Jul 09

Part 2: Praying from a Place of Gratitude

Todd Pruitt |Series: The Soul of Prayer |1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

If we could boil down Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica to one major theme and one major “feel,” it would be gratitude. Now, the Apostle Paul opens almost all his letters with a word of thanksgiving and gratitude. But here that gratitude is the engine that drives the entire letter. One commentator observes: “The first letter is at heart a record of the apostles’ gratitude to God. Their thanksgiving must not be glossed over as a formality…The giving of thanks and the reports of their prayer are in fact a large part of the letter’s substance.”

The church in this bustling center of commerce was only a few months old when Paul was thrown out and banned from returning. The young Christians had to deal with harassment from their pagan neighbors while being cut off from the apostles. Timothy was sent to check in on them and offer assistance and instruction. What he found was a church which, by God’s grace, had remained faithful in the face of political, financial, and cultural marginalization. Having received this encouraging report, the first epistle to the Thessalonians is Paul’s outpouring of gratitude to God for his protection of these beloved new Christians.

What we give thanks for is a good window into what we most highly prize. For the apostle Paul, it is clear from the content of his thanksgiving that what he prized above all were the signs of God’s grace in the lives of the Thessalonian Christians. He offers effusive thanks to God for the evidence that these hard pressed young Christians are among the elect, having received with faith the gospel he preached to them (vs. 4). For all of these reasons and more Paul and his band of brothers “give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before God our Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (vs. 3).

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