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 (83)

83 thoughts on "Thanksgiving and Prayer"

  1. Shelby Lomax says:

    I am currently pregnant and reading through this and so grateful for this day specifically. I am using this as an opportunity to read the Bible out loud to my baby and the prayer in Philippians 1:9-11 struck home for me. I plan on reading this verse every day as my prayer for the growth of my child.

  2. Melanie Ewert says:

    Being currently displaced due to COVID and unable to return home, this hits a soft spot in my heart as my family and I yearn to be with those we love who are far from us now. I look forward to the day when borders open and we can return. In the meantime we will pray and remember Gods loving kindness.

  3. Yecenia Paredes says:

    To Erin Wagner – I pray that the peace that surpasses all understanding guard your heart, your body and your unborn little girl. That you find strength in the mighty God we serve, through the power of the Holy Spirit – as you serve the needs of others you can be rest assured he is covering you with his provision. He will supply to all of your needs!! Thank you for your service during these challenging times – Be blessed and Be strong in the Lord!!

  4. Sarah Hewitson says:

    I’m really glad that Gods reminded me to be grateful for my friends today. In this weird time as we work out how to be at peace when there is so much uncertainty, I’m so grateful for the constancy of people in my life who I know love and care about me

  5. Erin Wagner says:

    Hi all. I’m asking for some prayer! I’m a physician in a large hospital, and it’s so easy to be overwhelmed with the coronavirus and how many sick patients we are taking care of. I’m also pregnant (19 weeks 4 days- we just found out we’re having a girl!). Please pray for safety and health and peace. So thankful for this community of believers. ❤️

    1. Larissa Dean says:

      Prayed for you today

    2. Sarah Scott says:

      Healthcare can be an especially exhausting place to work right now. Praying for your spirit and your heart as you walk into work each day and care for patients, Erin. May you feel God’s strength surrounding you in each room. Praying for health and a safe pregnancy! Thank you for what you’re doing for the Kingdom through your work.

  6. Karen says:

    I am doing this study late but have enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts and personal struggles. Victoria, hang in there! I am praying for you and your husband this morning that you will find a church that centers their teaching on God’s truth and love for all people. You might also see if there is a Bible study fellowship group in your town as those groups meet to read the Bible together and to glean wisdom and understanding from it. Here is the link: . To Emily, I pray for you and your coworkers as you mourn the loss of a dear friend. May God give you strength and courage during this time and help you to process what happened. I know that has happened in my workplace and it was so shocking to all of us to know that the person who passed away was seeking drugs/alcohol as an escape. It woke me up to be more compassionate to others and to reach out to them with God’s love each time we meet. God bless you!

  7. Emily McGhee says:

    What a powerful prayer, thank you Lord for the words to say and the grace to receive your strength ❤️

  8. Victoria Hollis says:

    Hi sisters! I am a newlywed and I am struggling to find my roots in Jesus. I recently moved from my hometown of familiarity and godly relationships and it feels hard being a new wife.

    I don’t have too many friends in Birmingham, and it makes me feel even lonelier on my walk with the Lord. My husband and I have a great marriage; always growing and learning. But we’ve both become bitter over the church—how many people don’t focus on the poor and marginalized. How the focus is on God’s mercy and love only and leaving out the resurrection of Christ. It’s so hard! Please pray for me. I long to love the Lord in the right way.

    1. Cara Jenkins says:

      Oh sweet sister! May God bless you with just one solid friendship in your new town and help you and your husband navigate the feelings you have about the church. Continue to seek His face and be encouraged to know that this season shall pass…eventually. Lean into Christ and fill your mind with His truth. Praying for you!❤️

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