The scent was faint at first, but slowly the delicious smell grew stronger as the Swedish Tea Ring was baking in the kitchen. The tantalizing odor enveloped me as I studied in the next room.
Have you ever used the verb envelop?
Envelop: to wrap around something completely; to surround, either literally or figuratively
Literally, fog can envelop a city, or a mom can envelop her child. Figuratively, peace can envelop your mind, or Christ can envelop your life. In fact, the Apostle Paul’s use of “in Christ” and “in the Spirit” has this idea of enveloping a person totally.
Envelop Your Prayers
Thankfulness should wrap around our prayers completely. When I come to God with my circumstances or with people that I am lifting up to Him, I am giving Him no new information – He knows and has ordained what is happening. In reality, I can bring Him two things: thankfulness for the situation or person, and a petition for His help. To truly envelop a prayer with thanksgiving, you start with it and end with it.
This is the key difference between praying to a sovereign God and asking favors from the genie of the lamp. Many Christians treat God like a genie: “Please do this, and do that, and when you’re done, I need this as well.” There is no recognition that the genie has caused our circumstances for His glory and our good, and we don’t say thanks because the genie is our servant. It is said that if we treat our friends like we treat our God we wouldn’t have friends. To say thanks is to fully acknowledge that He is in control and is working out a perfectly calculated plan.
So, we should begin and end our prayer with thankfulness. Paul gives us multiple examples of praying with thanksgiving.
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” Colossians 4:2
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Paul also demonstrates how he envelops his prayers with thankfulness when praying for people.
- First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world (Romans 1:8)
- I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus (I Corinthians 1:4)
- I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers (Ephesians 1:16)
- We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you (Colossians 1:3)
- We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers (I Thessalonians 1:2)
- We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing (2 Thessalonians 1:3)
- First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people (I Timothy 2:1)
- I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers (Philemon 1:4)
One key to praying thankfully is having the “foundation of trust” in good shape. I am currently working through Ole Hallesby’s book on Prayer and he writes:
“We realize that this deficiency in our prayer life is really due to the fact that we do not trust our blessed Lord. We think that we understand better than He does when and how our prayers should be answered.”
In order to envelop thanksgiving into our prayers, we have to trust the Lord God with all our mind, soul, and heart. He is completely trustworthy. On that basis I can be th(i)nkful and agree to receive what He is doing in my circumstances, though I don’t understand the whys and what fors, and may never understand them.
Th(i)nkful for Carmen
Her life is not easy. She has difficulties that many of us are not familiar with. But our friend Carmen loves God and runs to Him in prayer, with thankfulness.
This precious lady in Pennsylvania is a prayer warrior for us and the mission work here in South Africa. She thanks God on our behalf and provides prayer cover for us continually.
She is growing spiritually and envelops her prayers to the Lord with thinking thanks. And I reciprocate, thanking my Lord for her as I lift my prayer to Him.
So How Do You Start?
The beauty of being th(i)nkful is that it is not hard. Even if you have not been in the habit of enveloping your requests to God with th(i)nkfulness, just start with one thing. Here are some examples:
- Thank You, God, for the people who pray for me
- Thank you, God, for the opportunity to trust you and your character today
- Thank you, God, that I am not alone in my struggles, but I can come to you
- Thank you for the access and freedom I have, through Jesus, to come boldly to the throne of grace
- Thank you for the grace that is helping me start a new neural pathway of thinking thanks
- Thank you for the person that shared the good news of hope with me
Why not start right now in enveloping a prayer to God with thankfulness?