Thanksgiving in Advance
By Yongyeun Lee
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18)
St. Paul arrived at Tyre on the way to Jerusalem after his third mission trip. His disciples dissuaded him from going to Jerusalem because it was dangerous. Through the Spirit, they told Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.
When Paul arrived at Caesarea, he stayed at the house of Philip. Phillip’s four daughters prophesied that Paul would be bound and threatened with his life. They also urged him not go to Jerusalem. Nevertheless, he decided to go to Jerusalem, even if it was God’s will for him to die for Jesus. Then, they prayed that the will of the Lord would be done.
The prayer of faith is to rely on God's will and pray for his will to be done. The prayer of prophecy is a prayer that gives wisdom to inform and prepare for what will be done in the future.
Prayer isn't always about getting the answers we want. The prayer of faith is that we seek first the will of the Lord and obey his will, even if his will is different from ours.
The prayer of faith is to leave everything to the will of the Lord and move on in faith.
Even if the future is unclear or dangerous, the prayer of faith is that the Lord achieves his will. The prayer of faith leaves everything to the will of the Lord and allows us to continue on in faith. In general, people tend to see the results and then give thanks to God. We thank God for giving us good health, for food and clothes, for our children's well-being, and for a successful business.
However, the thanksgiving of faith is to give thanks in advance, believing that God's will is to be done, regardless of the results. St. Paul said to the Thessalonians, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.”
How can you always be happy? How can you give thanks to God in all circumstances? If we pray with faith, we can be happy and grateful to God.
Last month, I attended a healing seminar with Korean pastors of the New York Conference. Matt Scott, pastor of the Gathering Place United Methodist Church in Alabama, talked about the healing ministry in his church. In his seminar, we had a time to pray for healing for one another. Matt asked us to raise our hands if we were sick. I raised my hand. While traveling to San Francisco, I sat on the plane for a long time and then sat in meetings all day, so I had a boil on my hip. There was a little pain, and it bothered me whenever I sat on the chair.
When I raised my hand, Matt asked another pastor to come and pray with me. I experienced God's touching my body while I was praying. I was convinced that God would heal my body. So, I gave thanks to God for healing in advance, even though the boil had not yet completely healed. After a week, the abscess disappeared.
Through that experience, I realized how to pray with faith and how to thank God in advance. Even if God has not healed my illness, I can give thanks to God in advance because of my faith.
If you have not yet achieved results, pray in the name of the Lord and give thanks to God in advance that his will be done in your life. Amen.
Rev. Yongyeun Lee is pastor of Prospect United Methodist Church in Bristol, Connecticut.
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