Don’t Forget to say Thank You

“Don’t forget to say thank you!” This was the regular reminder from my mother before I left the house to go and visit with a friend. On the rare occasion that either my brother or I forgot to say thank you, we would receive “the look” and the reminder “What do you need to say?” There is great importance in instilling thankfulness in children as they grow up. It’s always a blessing to have one of the kids come up to me to say thank you for a birthday card. Anyone doing any job needs the appreciation and the blessing of being thought of and thanked for their service.

When we stop to appreciate the amazing gift of God’s salvation and grace which we receive through Jesus Christ, we recognize that we did nothing to deserve his love, but in contrast, we do everything to deserve his anger, judgement and wrath. Yet because of his great love for us, Jesus stepped into the middle of our mess to bring redemption, the forgiveness of our sin through God’s mercy. But he also opened up for us reconciliation with the Father and through the Spirit, adoption to sonship. When we see all of what God has done for us, the question comes “What do you need to say?”

The Heidelberg Catechism asks the question. “Why do Christians need to pray?” The beginning of the answer to that question is “Because prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness God requires of us.” (Q&A 116) Prayer is our response to the ongoing work of God in our lives, it’s our way of saying thank you for everything God has, and is continuing to do in our lives. Pray is our vocabulary of thanks. The Apostle Paul reminds us: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Prayer is the relational response which connects us with God who has given us so much through the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. It’s our expression of thanksgiving for his work in our lives, but it’s also the channel through which deeper and greater intimacy with the Father, our Abba – Daddy God, can be achieved. It becomes the doorway to a relationship which is out of this world. It gives us access to the vast love, grace and power of God, which He with joy longs to share with his children. Prayer becomes this never-ending adventure with the Father who never stops revealing the depths of his amazing grace to us, and his invitation to join him in the work he is doing in this world.

Prayer is the most important part, but also the most exciting and rewarding part, of this relationship with our Father in heaven.

Have you said thank you today?

Abiding in Christ

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. John 15:4

An important element of a healthy prayer life is learning to abide or remain in Christ. Jesus gave the command to “remain in me, as I also remain in you.” The word remain, in the original language, has a range of nuanced meaning including: remain, stay, persist, wait for, and to dwell for an extended period. The direction that Jesus gives is to remain, stay put and persist in him as he also remains in us. This is an invitation, a directive, to continue in relationship with Jesus. We cannot just give lip service to the Lord, with a quick prayer here and there, and then go off to do what we want to do the rest of the time.

Jesus wants us to remain with him as he remains with us, through the Holy Spirit who lives within us. We can have the Spirit in us, but if we do not pay attention to Him, we miss out on His ability to lead us. Therefore, Jesus urges us to remain in him. He wants us to cultivate an attitude of mind and spirit which remains open to the voice of Jesus through the Spirit, so that He may speak to us during the regular activities of our lives.

There are times when we shut Jesus out of our lives. Times when we try to do life on our own. Times when we try to live out of our own strength and our own resources. But there are also times when we actively shut the door on Jesus so that we can pursue our own sinful habits and desires. Jesus is encouraging us not to shut him out, but to continue to invite him in, to continue to remain or abide in Him.

When we remain in Jesus we will produce fruit. In other words, there will be an effect. When we remain open to the Spirit’s voice to lead us, change will happen in our lives and our spiritual walk. The Spirit will pull us away from the things which would cause us harm and instead continue to point us towards things which bring us life. When we choose not to shut Jesus out of our lives we will grow in relationship and intimacy with him. He will continue to guide us into places where his glory may be demonstrated.

Our prayer life becomes richer because of this continually growing relationship with Jesus. The psalmist says. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). The invitation of Jesus is to live with him, to remain in this place of connection and intimacy with Almighty God. What a privilege to remain with him in life and in prayer.