In this final installment of our five-part series on developing a discipline of gratitude, let’s look at the way gratitude serves as its own form of prayer.
In Philippians 4, Paul offers the believers in Philippi an antidote for worry. And they have a lot they could be worried about. Paul is in prison, members of their fledgling congregation are fighting, their friend Epaphroditus had been deathly ill, and apparently they are engaged in spiritual battles with those Paul calls “enemies of the cross of Christ,” maybe even inside the church.
Instead of stewing in their anxiety, the Philippians are invited to present their requests and petitions to God. But that’s not all. As they pray about all that’s troubling them, Paul calls them to do it “with thanksgiving.” This seems to be another version of Paul’s command to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
It’s not that the Philippians are to abandon their worry for gratitude. Rather, even in their worry Paul knows there are still things to be thankful for. And as they season their requests and petitions with gratitude, they will better recognize the hand of God already at work on their behalf. The results, Paul says, is an unexplainable peace that will help them guard against additional worry.
So this is the end of our series … or maybe it’s just the beginning. We talked about the importance of developing a habit of gratitude, and also four ways to move from the emotion or feeling of gratitude into thoughts and actions about who God is and how he wants us to live.
As we wrap up, here’s a quick summary with brief action steps for you to try.
- Gratitude draws us into a posture of humility. What good thing in your life are you grateful for and how does it remind you of God’s goodness and power?
- Gratitude also reminds us God’s redemptive work in the world. What small thing has God done for you today that can move you toward greater gratitude for the very big thing he did on the cross?
- Gratitude also leads us toward praise. How can you move from feeling grateful to actively praising God this week?
- Gratitude helps us pray in peace. What is making you anxious this week? As you pray about that situation, also thank God for the ways he’s already at work to resolve it and help you grow.
Find earlier posts in the series by clicking on the link below: