Companions of Thanksgiving

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,  for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Timothy 2: 1 – 4)

With the approach of Thanksgiving it is appropriate to consider giving thanks.

Prayer, talking to God, is therapeutic. A letter from the Apostle Paul to his young colleague Timothy having this in mind encourages four types of engagement with the Lord. They form an admirable pattern for prayer today.

They are:
Supplication. This means to recognize a need and ask God to meet it. It arises from a sense of inadequacy or inability to meet a need. It involves asking God to supply the need or to meet it.

This is the type of prayer most often offered.  It is not to be discouraged. It is actually encouraged by God. The pages of the Bible ripple with appeals for us to ask of the Lord. It should be remembered there are qualifications for asking. Every limitation to the effectiveness of prayer are on this end of the line.

Prayers. This word literally means to draw near to God and pour out your heart. It is a general term for worship of the Lord as the God whose name is hallowed. 

Intercessions. The term was used to refer to asking authority to enter into the king’s presence and make a request on behalf of someone. This, too is an evidence selfishness doesn’t rule in the life of the one praying. A prayer for a person is a way of showing love for that one.

Thanksgiving. This is an expression of gratitude not only for blessings bestowed and prayers answered, but for the very privilege of praying. It is the spirit in which all prayer should be offered and life lived.

Those who lack a basic sense of gratitude in their lives lack a basic Christian virtue.

Why should we give thanks? It is answered in the text, “this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior. . . .”

In an agricultural era (1844) Henry Alford penned a hymn entitled “Come, ye thankful people, come” that has appeared in 661 hymnals. These inspirational words constitute the first stanza.

“Come, ye thankful people, come, 
raise the song of harvest home; 
all is safely gathered in, 
ere the winter storms begin. 
God our Maker doth provide 
for our wants to be supplied; 
come to God’s own temple, come, 
raise the song of harvest home.”

Let the first line of this classic resonate in your mind during this season of Thanksgiving. Don’t just give thanks, be truly thankful for our benevolent God.