Helping You Thank Differently

Living 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

As I try to “practice what I preach” by being more thankful, I am experiencing new aspects of thankfulness. I observe what it does to me. What I’m discovering is that living more thankfully gives room for ongoing communion with God. In other words, real thankfulness consistently connects the heart to God.

These experiences remind me of what Paul wrote: 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5.16-18)

What he exhorts becomes more of a reality from experiencing thankfulness more fully. There is a radical transformational power when living a life of thankfulness. In thankfulness you know God as you know His will. It’s no longer a matter of repeating words from the Bible to get yourself into a better place; trying to convince yourself that what is written is true. It’s now a matter of actually living His will and life while experiencing the transformational effects of doing so. You are being transformed by actually doing His will. 

Three observations from this passage (in the context of experiencing thankfulness): 

1. This is one sentence. All three practices are to be practiced all at one time. Three practices equal one communion with God. Three practices, one reality.   

Always rejoice — pray unceasingly — in everything give thanks. These actions are inter-related; connected. They are bonded together as a formula for ongoing communion with God. Do you want a life of intimate communion with the Triune God? Then connect with God along this triadic path: rejoice, pray, give thanks always and in everything.  

These are three legs of a stool. Sit on it and commune with God.

This reminds us of the three members of the Trinity. Reside in their community by these practices.

2. Giving thanks is a means to communion with God in Jesus Christ. The ultimate purpose of thankfulness is oneness with God. The Greek word here is eucharisteite. In the eucharist you experience oneness with Jesus Christ. In a eucharistic life, a “giving thanks” life, you experience oneness with God. Expand your experience of thankfulness. Giving thanks to God in every moment and in every situation is a primary means of communing with God. 

Giving thanks implies a recipient of the thanks. You’re giving thanks to someone. When you do, there is a deep connection. This is true of God as well. 

3. All of this is God’s will for you.

Do you want to know God’s will for your life? Rejoice always. Pray always. Give thanks in everything. Clear and simple. 

Do you want to know what it is to live in Christ Jesus? Give thanks in everything. This is not theoretical nor emotional. It’s not even “spiritual.” When you are in Christ Jesus you give thanks in everything. Giving thanks in everything provides a fuller experience of living in Christ Jesus. 

This is what God wants for you. And, honestly, this is what you want for yourself. What a great way to live – doing God’s will in this way. 

The path to knowing God’s will is to rejoice always, pray always, give thanks always. Start here. Don’t make it more complicated than it is. 

The tough part is experiencing HOW to rejoice always, pray always, give thanks always. Here’s some help: 

  • Repeat throughout the day the Jesus prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
  • Be attentive to what is in front of you for which you can be thankful. Say, “Thank you for _________” throughout the day.
  • Begin your day by saying St. Philaret of Moscow’s Morning prayer:

O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely upon Your holy will. In every hour of the day reveal Your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with the firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by You. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will; teach me to pray; pray You Yourself in me. Amen. 

  • Consistently and thoughtfully say “Thank you” before each meal, as you awake and as you fall asleep. 

To a thankful and happy day,

Dr. K  

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

6 thoughts on “Helping You Thank Differently

  1. Hey Pastor, as always a great lesson. Thanks for writing this. I was curious though, you are saying to say these prayers. I thought Jesus was against repeating a prayer. THought praying was more a conversation with God, a heart felt conversation.. So i am a bit confused about you saying to repeat a prayer from St.Philaret of Moscow’s Morning prayer:
    Or would this be considered an Affirmation more then a prayer? A bit confused. Thanks!

    • Hi Ron. Thanks for your good comments and questions. You’re asking about an important distinction. Jesus warns against “vain” repetition not repeating words. If you look at his teachings on this it’s always in the context of dealing with Pharisees, etc. who wanted to look good in the eyes of others. They said their prayers in vanity. That is NOT what I’m talking about. Prayers written by others give words to what our hearts want to say but often can’t. Talking to God using my own words often results in me saying the same things over and over – kinda’ rote like. Actually, the church has prayed (using set prayers) for centuries in liturgy. Think of the Psalms. Those are great to pray. Paul wrote prayers in Ephesians and Colossians. Jesus gave his disciples words to say when they asked him to teach them to pray. It’s biblical and good to pray like this. But, find out for yourself by saying St. Philaret’s prayer every morning and see what happens. Or pray the Lord’s prayer every morning/evening and see what happens. Thanks Ron for asking about this. I appreciate you. Pastor K

  2. Great brother!

    I have to admit though, whenever I hear someone say they have found “a formula” I cringe, like someone is dragging their fingernails across a chalkboard.

    Paul thought he had a formula in being a ‘Jew of Jews’, until he got knocked off his donkey by the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus. The Jewish rabbi’s thought that they had a formula in all of the rules and regulations (is it 482?) that needed to be followed in order to be holy, and they still do, unaware that they have missed the messiah.

    It is still a matter of the heart; our motivations… I can pray ANY prayer, but if my heart is not right, if my motivations are not founded in Christ… they are merely words.

    Keep at brother. Let’s never let our prayers be merely words…

    • Thanks John. You know that I am not advocating a thoughtless, formulaic means of living what Paul says. I am captivated by and trying to take seriously his sequence of exhortations to rejoice, pray, and be thankful ALWAYS. They seem to be three aspects of one activity. Is the word “formula” always negative? A “fixed form of words” does not always mean routine or thoughtlessness. These are Paul’s words, not mine – rejoice, pray, give thanks. How could this “formula” be negative? Jesus gave the disciples words to say in response to being asked to teach them to pray. He then gave them instruction on how to live a life where prayer is meaningful. He did not just say, “pray whatever comes into your mind from a sincere heart.” We want a right heart before we pray. It seems the way of Christ, Paul, and the saints is to pray words and a right heart will develop. Of course, it is never either/or and always both/and words-heart. True. Any words said over and over can become thoughtless routine. The problem is not the words. The problem is our own struggle to be attentive to what we’re saying. My point of this particular post is to live Paul’s exhortation to always rejoice, pray, and give thanks. There is a connection between these activities. I’ve learned that I cannot just “wing it” when it comes to doing this. I need lots of help. Liturgical, routine, set words have been the missing link in my ability to live this kind of life. The Pharisees got it wrong for many reasons. Merely saying words won’t get it done – you’re right. Saying meaningful words with an attentive, humble, and repentant heart – that’s a different story. From my limited experience of trying to live a life filled with rejoicing, prayer, and thanks, set prayers have played a major role. If others can live this kind of life without them, then God bless them. I fear, however, that most Christians are not living as Paul instructs. I’m just trying to help them. Blessings to you brother. Thanks for engaging!! Keith

Comments are closed.