Day 2

Thanksgiving and Prayer

from the Philippians reading plan

Philippians 1:3-11, Acts 16:16-40, Philemon 1:4-7

BY Melanie Rainer

Early into this past Advent season, I wrote letters until the ring finger on my right hand blistered. For two days straight, I wrote cards of gratitude and joy for each of the volunteers in the children’s ministry I lead, followed by cards filled with stickers and sweet words for every child (ages three and over) in my ministry. In each child’s card, I wrote a variation on a similar theme, but all had the same conclusion: “I hope you always remember how much Jesus loves you.”

I assume these cards were tossed aside in the holiday hubbub, or purged in the seemingly requisite January clean-out that most families undertake. As I wrote, I kept thinking, Do these words matter? Is it worth the time? Maybe the cards matter, maybe they don’t, but I know the words on them do. And every time I penned that phrase, I prayed the child who received the card would take it to heart.

Paul’s letter to the Philippians starts with similar sentiments, echoing ancient truths and the hope that the words within the letter would sink down deep into the hearts of those who would read it. This opening exhortation to his readers in Philippi offers a template for godly relationships of believers deeply committed to sharing the love of Christ. Paul expressed gratitude for the Philippians, “for every remembrance” of them (Philippians 1:3), as well as their partnership in the spread of the gospel.

Paul has a history with the Philippians, and it is on this rich foundation that he builds this really beautiful letter. In Acts 16, we see that when Paul first came to Philippi, a woman called Lydia was converted to faith, and then she and her family invited Paul to stay with them. Their generous hospitality was marked by open ears, open hearts, and open homes.

Later in the chapter, Paul and Silas were arrested, and in the end, the Lord delivered them from prison. However, during their imprisonment, one of their jailers became a believer, and also welcomed Paul and Silas to his home: “He brought them into his house, set a meal before them, and rejoiced because he had come to believe in God with his entire household” (Acts 16:34).

Paul seems to care very deeply for the Philippians. As modern readers, we know the rest of this letter will hold both caution and affection. But this beautiful opening reveals the heart and intent behind Paul’s words. We see in these verses how godly relationships work when they are anchored in love for the gospel; there is push and pull, earnest prayer, and deep care for one other’s true well-being and spiritual growth.

As I write, I see the faces of those believers who I know I can cling to with the same godly affection Paul has for the Philippians, who balance their love for me with their desire for me to grow more like Jesus every day. They aren’t afraid to whisper (or shout) rebuke in love, and they bathe their strong words in prayer for my sanctification. These people have partnered with me in the hard work of sharing the gospel with a world that has become increasingly hostile toward it.

I am so thankful for these friends, and today I pray for them in the same way Paul prayed for his friends in Philippi: “that [their] love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment,” and that they would “be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9–11).

Post Comments (67)

67 thoughts on "Thanksgiving and Prayer"

  1. Camille English Davis says:

    I’m going to take the time to write personal letters to loved ones and friends. Thanks Melanie!

  2. Tricia says:

    Thank you to all of you through the years for your words of encouragement and love. I am so grateful to be a part of this community where we can share our hopes, our dreams and our sorrows. Where we can love on each other from afar.
    God is so awesome like that. Even though we are far away from each other we can still be close in Christ. Blessings to all of you today near and far.

  3. Emily says:

    Praying for you Lauren! I pray you feel God’s peace in your heart and for His wisdom as you navigate these difficult circumstances.

  4. Angie Guimaray says:

    Lauren, Praying for you and the decisions you need to make regarding your living arrangements. May God bless you and your family, your husband oversees, and your Mother’s health. Your strength is felt by your words.

  5. Jessica Nicolas says:

    That short sweet prayer in verses 9-11 warms my heart. I want to remember to always pray the same over my loved ones. That they know they are loved and prayed for. Amen!

  6. WendyJ says:

    Praying for you, Lauren! You are never alone and always have a heavenly father and community of believers who cover you in prayer. Be strong and courageous, but know that you have our support, as well.

  7. Lauren G says:

    Thank you, ladies, for all your comments here. I love these devotional, but reading how you all process the devotional is an extra blessing and helps the words to knead deeper into my soul.

    I’m needing these devotionals extra lately. I’ve posted before, but my family is in a really trying season right now. My husband is deployed overseas and I’m working and taking care of our 2 kids under 5. In the fall, my son was discovered to have an elevated lead level at his one year check up which prompted an inspection of our rental and required us to move out for a few months for remediation to occur. In the meanwhile, my daughter broke her arm, and my mom who has been a big support was diagnosed with a health issue that requires her to be in treatment several hours a day…I’ve also been struggling with long standing depression and having a hard time getting my medication dose right.

    We were preparing this weekend to move back
    Into our place and I re-swabbed the house to assure the lead was clear. Unfortunately I found lead in the tub which had not been tested in either of the inspections. So we can’t move back in and are now in another ugly battle with the landlord.

    I’m worn down and stuck away from our community. I’m thankful that we have a place to live, but sad to be more isolated in a time where I’m already somewhat isolated by our circumstances. I am BBC exhausted but have to make decisions about whether we permanently move out if our rental. Moving us exhausting, but especially as a single parent. Complicating things is that I already entered our city’s kindergarten lottery for the address of our rental

    Didn’t mean for that to be so long winded- guess I needed to vent. Would live any prayers for wisdom & energy. I know God sometimes allows periods of helplessness and lack of control so we can see how he works and draw us closer!

    Anyhow, In our season of isolation, I’m thankful to have this community to share with!!

    1. Sharon W says:

      Lauren, I am so sorry to hear about the timing of all you are going through. You need some extra hands for sure. God will help you to get through these struggles. My advice is to pray morning, noon, and night for strength, guidance and God’s love to pour over you. Hopefully, you are attending a church where you can speak to pastor or get a few friends to help spread the word that you are overly stretched too thin and could use a helping hand. Often one person has all the connections and will jump on the band wagon and get everything mobilized. People want to help, they just need someone to tell them what to do. Don’t be embarrassed about your struggles for God knows you, your children, and your husband is deployed. He wants your friends and church members to help one another. You can pray and God will send His best. Your burden will be lifted, God loves you.

      1. Sarah Pickering says:

        We are all thinking of you, wishing you the peace that only God can provide during this trying time. Your family is so lucky to have you at the helm. Cast all your anxieties on the Lord and He will provide everything you need. Prayers of peace for you, your children, your brave husband, and your beautiful mother. Blessings to you sweet Lauren.

      2. Bessie H says:

        That is wonderful advice. We are called to share our burdens. I will pray for you, Lauren. Please keep us updated.

    2. Jennifer Wing says:

      Praying for grace and rest and daily manna.

  8. Mary Pitner says:

    I had marked Philippians 1:9-11 in my Bible with a note to pray these verses for my children. I’m reminded to do this again as they are grown and starting their own families.

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