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Praying with a joyful and thankful heart

by Rachael Stone

Rachael shares some simple thoughts on prayer on Live at Five.

You may be feeling overwhelmed… I do too sometimes.

We’re told in Ephesians 6 to stand our ground. How?

Here are three ways that I believe are key to this.

Thess. 5:16-18 Be joyful always: pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 

1. Verse 16….a whole verse for these three words. Be joyful always...

You may ask, how can I be joyful in the midst of all the suffering I see? But of course, this is the sort of joy that only the Holy Spirit can give. By rejoicing and worshipping and asking for a spirit of joy, we’re coming in the opposite spirit to what the news would fill us with, which is despair.

2. Verse 17. Again, a whole verse for just two words. Pray continually…

How on earth do I pray continually? Well, think about this. You won’t be on earth while you’re doing it because prayer is stepping into the presence of God... joining him in the throne room.  You don’t need to be praying great and lofty spiritual warfare prayers. There is nothing in our lives and experiences that God doesn’t want to hear about if we have the humility to bring it to him in prayer.

3. Verse 18. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Give thanks… give thanks always… because every one of us has something to be thankful for and thanksgiving changes the spiritual atmosphere around us and it changes us. It’s not denying that we’re struggling and that people around us are suffering but it is proclaiming his kingdom and his goodness in the middle of it all. A thankful heart feels so much better than a heavy heart and it’s so much healthier.  

A word here about the health of our heart and the words we speak.
Luke 6: 45 says For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks… and Proverbs 4:23 says Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Words of life will spring from a thankful heart. Lets be careful how we speak during these times when we’re bombarded with bad news and the temptation can be to grumble and join in. We’re told in scripture that God inhabits the praises of his people - so who inhabits our words when we complain and grumble? The enemy is the accuser of the brethren and I don’t want to be a witness for the prosecution, I want to be a witness to the goodness of God.

Take your stand in these times by worshipping him and rejoicing in what he’s done for you. Turn all your thoughts, longings, anxieties and dreams to prayer. Talk to him throughout the day, and give thanks, whatever your circumstances. Let faith rise up above the things we can’t control or understand. 

Finally, because none of this is easy, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to increase in us the gifts of faith and joy and thankfulness.