Friday, 16 June 2007
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, 1 Thessalonians 1:2
This is a greeting which, even if slightly amended for the occasion, is common to Paul’s letters. In some letters, the stress is on the thanks, in others it is on the prayers. It is rather close to the words of Colossians 1:3 –
“We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,”
However, when he wrote his letter to the Thessalonians, he noticeably gives thanks “to God” rather than “to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He has already carefully placed Christ Jesus within the Godhead in the previous verse, and so the thanks are obviously to Him as much as they are to the Father. Therefore, Paul combines the two into the simpler term “God.”
Here he notes that he, Silvanus, and Timothy “give thanks to God always for you all. These thanks are lifted to God, who is both Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. As always, his wording highlights the deity of Christ. There is the human Jesus, and there is the Christ of God, being God. He is the Lord Jesus Christ who issues from God the Father, and who dwells with the Father in the Godhead. It is to this God that their thanks are directed at this point.
In their thanks, he then notes that they are “making mention of you in our prayers.” Paul’s idea of “praying without ceasing,” which he will state later in this epistle, is evident in words such as these. Whenever the thought of one of his beloved churches came to mind, he and those with him would utter forth a prayer to God on its behalf. When they talked about one of the churches, they would probably issue forth a quick prayer of both thanks and petition for it. To them, praying was certainly a normal extension of their regular lives and conversations.
Life application: God already knows the end from the beginning. His plan is also complete in His mind. Despite this, we should not have a fatalistic view of life where we ignore prayers. Instead, God figures our prayers into the plan, just as our free-will calling on Jesus is figured into the plan. If we don’t receive Jesus, we will not be saved. Likewise, prayers that are not uttered are not heard. God’s foreknowledge of all things outside of time factors in our actions within the stream of time. Pray!
Heavenly Father, one of the beautiful things You have granted to us is the opportunity to pray. When we open our hearts to You, You hear and respond according to Your grace and mercy. And because we have Jesus as our Mediator between our prayers and Your ears, we can know that those prayers which are offered through Him are acceptable to You. And so, as we offer them to You in His name, hear and respond according to Your wisdom. Thank You that our prayers are heard because of Him. Amen.