February 8, 2023

February 8, 2023

Author: Pastor Mark Bauer
February 08, 2023

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”

Philippians 1:3-5

As we read those words, I think it’s good for us to keep in mind that the apostle Paul is writing these words while he is in prison, he is chains. And you know as you think about that we realize there’s no sense of him being absorbed or caught up in his own trials and his own difficulties and problems that he’s faced with. He’s able to share with them that he is able to pray with a heartfelt thanksgiving. With a joy for all of the saints that are there in Philippi. So, as I was reflecting on these verses I looked back and did a quick survey through Paul’s letters. As I did so I noticed that in most of these letters we see this pattern of Paul that he begins with a prayer of thanksgiving. He’s praying with thankfulness, and we see that prayer of thankfulness he’s consistently expressing for the church. It’s always in every prayer of his, and for all of the church. Paul’s thanks and his prayers are not a selective praying for just a few members or people that he had a closer fellowship with. No, it's for all of God's people, he’s giving thanks. Every time he comes to prayer he’s giving thanks, and then obviously the one to whom he gives thanks is to God.

Paul’s thanksgiving is always directed to God. We often read words like this “I thank my God” or “I give thanks to God.” I think it’s just a helpful reminder to us that although Paul was used by God in many ways to build the church and to plant those churches and share the gospel, and even though the local church there is actively working and causing the gospel to continue to be spread, Paul acknowledges that it is ultimately God who is the one that’s working to build his church. He’s the source of every good thing. He is the one to whom we should always give thanks, for it’s to God who belongs all the glory. But as I was looking again at these verses and as I was examining this pattern, I think in these prayers of Paul we see that he typically also includes a reason for his thanksgiving. He'll say things like “I thank my God because of some things” or “For these reasons I give thanks to my God.” So, I was looking at what those reasons were, what were the reasons for his thanksgiving.

We noticed that first and foremost he’s focusing on positive things and one of the primary things that he’s giving thanks for is their faith in Christ, that they are fellow believers in Christ Jesus. It’s a faith that is a gift of God, it’s by grace that they have been saved. It’s a sincere faith, it’s a growing faith, it’s this faith that is working. Also, we see another reason that he gives thanks in these prayers. He gives thanks as he thinks of their love for all the saints. A love that manifests itself in their labor to care for each other and to share with one another the burdens that each other has. But also, their love that’s shown in their partnership in the gospel. It’s a partnership in which they have an active support both financially but also in their encouragement for each other for the gospel messengers, for their care for one another and even in their prayers for Paul. In Paul’s prayers he notes that they have a faith and that they have a love and that these are not stagnant, no that these are growing, they’re increasing and that it’s continuing. It’s as he says here from the first day until now, so these are but a few of the reasons that we see in Paul’s letters why he gives thanks to God when he comes to God in prayer. He's remembering their faith he's remembering their love for one another and he’s remembering their partnership in the gospel. And this thanksgiving of Paul then causes them to have joy, a joy for what God has done and what God is doing in the lives of the Saints, those who are in Christ Jesus.

Sinclair Ferguson writes in his book he said, “The joy in his prayers came from his heart, like water rushing down a hill.” As I was thinking of that he also then says with this in mind, I think that sometimes though I think by even myself I find myself in a situation kind of like what Sinclair Ferguson also writes that “Sometimes we find ourselves to feel like we’re a man swimming against the tide.” Sometimes I find that I might be struggling having difficulty to pray. How do I stir up myself to be ready to intercede for my brother and sister in Christ? Well, I suggest that to help us we should seek to imitate Paul in our prayers. We should seek to try, if we find ourselves having those struggles and battles, we should try to seek to start our prayers with a focus on being thankful for the saints, thanksgiving obviously that would be directed to God. Giving thanks to God for his grace that saved save those who were lost. But also, we can give thanks for the faith of our brothers, their faith in Christ, trusting in Christ as their savior and their only hope. But also, that it’s a faith that produces works of love, so as we give thanks, and we hear reports of love for one another we can give thanks for that love that they’re showing for one another but also that love that’s demonstrated in a focus on the gospel. Being partners in the gospel so we can give thanks for their commitment to Christ and his church. We can pray for faith in them that will continue to grow and be abundant. We can pray for them for a love that we hear of that it increases more and more and that it would do so even during times of persecution and affliction. So those are just a few of the reasons as I look back at Paul’s prayers that would encourage us that as we pray, we should give thanks. We should give thanks for those who are in Christ, those that we’re praying for and as we do so as we come to God in prayer with thanksgiving on our lips may this even cause our prayers to be even energized and being full of joy even this evening.