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It happens. I mentioned in a prior post (“And Then I Drift Off”) that in spite of my best intentions and desires, I can end up getting distracted, loosing focus, drifting from praying to . . . well, to just saying a few words and then off and on to something else.

Throughout the Scriptures, the friends of God are encouraged to talk with him. We are invited into intimate, vital communication with the living God. And although I have heard the invitation, I don’t always live into it well.

Paul writes to the Colossians: “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). I’d like to live that way–devoted to prayer, keeping alert rather than ending up drifting away. And in this exhortation, Paul provides a hint to growing in faithfulness in prayer–“with an attitude of thanksgiving.”

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul also writes about prayer in general and couples it with thanksgiving: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). In that passage, Paul uses a few different words that refer to prayer. “Prayer” is the generic word for communication with God; “supplication” has to do with appealing to God for the needs of others; “requests” is a word that speaks of asking God for specific things. And then there is “thanksgiving.” That word refers to . . . giving thanks!

When I reflect on these two passages (Colossians 4:2 and Philippians 4:6), I notice the prominence that Paul places on thanksgiving–and I realize that it just may be that thanksgiving is not nearly as significant a part of my prayer life as it could be, as it should be.

Maybe my drifting–my lack of alertness–is tied to my diminished commitment to giving thanks. As I rehearse before God what I want, my list of things to talk with God about is limited by what I can think, recall, envision. But if I began to talk with God–with thanks–about his goodness, his mercies, his blessings, his grace, then my mind and heart will be captured by all that he is and all that he does.

Perhaps attentiveness to the goodness of our God and the riches of grace that come through Jesus and the kindness of the Spirit in transforming our lives would open up my soul to greater thanksgiving . . . and be the fertile ground for a richer and more “alert” life of prayer.

 

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3 Comments

  1. For me it seems, the first step that I usually take in times of drifting away from God is to quit being thankful…….turning away almost always ,in time, follows unthankfulness………..to really be in His presence first requires “thankfulness”.

    Enter into his gates with thanksgiving , [and] into his courts with praise : be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name.
    Ps 100:4

  2. You’ve answered the question for me, because i confess that i am guilty of drifting…

    “Attentiveness to the goodness of our God and the richness of grace… (In my words, Constant focus).

    ” If i can only and always do this (and if my wife would too), we would be ok, but sometimes we loose focus and place the focus/emphasis/priority elsewhere…i.e..things, job, career, money, relationships, children and then church stuff ie…choir, prayer meeting, Bible study, comittees, programs, seminars, assignments, socials, travelling etc.

    Its not easy but its doable… So for me i will place a note in my mirror, my refrigerator, my computer, my dining room, in my car, my boat, in the shed outside and then a hat, a tee shirt or even tie it around my neck. I have to remind myself to be “Attentive to the goodness of our God and the richness of grace!”…If im not to be didtracted.

    Thanks.

  3. Love it. Such good thoughts about the helpfulness of thanksgiving on securing our souls from drifting. So, let’s enter His gates, let’s come before Him with thanksgiving! That’s where I want to live.


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