2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.
It was quite a few years ago when I heard someone point out that this is the record of a direct answer to prayer. In his first letter to them, Paul had prayed, “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12) You could hardly get more specific in the prayer and the answer! I personally think one factor is that this is the sort of prayer God delights to answer, because it so clearly aligns with His will. After all, it’s the sort of thing Jesus prayed for in His great Pastoral Prayer before his crucifixion! (John 17) Recognizing such answers to prayer is one of the biggest reasons to keep some sort of a prayer journal. Frankly, we tend to forget what we’ve asked for, and so fail to be properly thankful when God provides it. It’s not that we aren’t pleased to have it, but when we recognize it as an answer to prayer our gratitude is intensified, and our faith is certainly strengthened. I think one of the delights of heaven will be getting to see all the many, many ways God has protected us over the years, and all the prayers He has answered, so that we may give Him the praise and thanks He truly deserves.
I’ve been using the SOAP system of devotions for quite a few years now, writing daily, but I haven’t kept prayer lists the way some people do. I might try that, to sharpen my awareness of answered prayer. I am regularly aware of God’s grace in speaking to and through me, but after all, Jesus did say, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (John 16:24) I don’t want to miss any of the joy God has for me! I do find myself overwhelmed with gratitude at times when I read over what I have written in the past, both remembering answered prayer and being touched afresh by what God has said to and through me that I have recorded. That’s just one of many reasons I encourage every believer to have a consistent devotional time, specifically including writing. I am grateful to Wayne Cordeiro for formulating the Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer system that I use, but there is nothing canonical about that; any of a number of systems will do. The important thing is to spend time daily with the Lord and keep a record of it, both to hear from Him and to know that we hear from Him. We tend to doubt that God cares about us that personally, but if we have consistent, daily devotions, it shouldn’t take long to realize that God really is speaking to us, as the Word comes alive in relation to our daily lives. I need to keep speaking this truth in love so that more and more people will realize that God really does care about them, individually, and so commit themselves as His disciples.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the growth that I am seeing in some of the believers. Those who have latched onto reading the Bible daily make the most progress! I pray that everyone in this church would have the joy of knowing that You speak to them, that You answer their prayers, and that You use them for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!