In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6 NIV emphasis added).
Really? In every situation pray with thanksgiving?
Sometimes we just can’t seem to get our hearts around that concept! Secretly, we hope the original Greek translation of this verse means “in most situations pray with thanksgiving.” That would leave room for worry and complaining which seem to come much more naturally.
In her book The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom tells a remarkable story about gratitude. During World War II, she and her sister Betsie lived in three different concentration camps. The entire ten Boom family had been arrested for providing a safe haven to Jews and Nazi rebels. It’s estimated they saved eight hundred lives before being caught and sent away.
Corrie describes how the barracks of the Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany was infested with fleas. The sisters were forced to sleep on wooden platforms with straw on top, but the straw was dirty, smelly, and crawling with the skin-biting pests. Corrie writes:
I sat up quickly and bumped my head on the platform above. “Fleas!” I jumped down to the floor. “The place is crawling with fleas! I . . . I don’t know how I can cope with living in such a terrible place!”
“Corrie, I think God has already given us the answer,” my sister Betsie said. “What was that verse we read from the Bible this morning?”
I pulled out my Bible from the bag I wore on a string around my neck. In the dim light, I read from 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 (KJV): “ ‘Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.’ Oh, Betsie, that’s too hard in a place like this!”
“No, come on, Corrie— let’s try. What are we thankful for?” my sister asked.
“Well . . . if we must be in this awful place, I’m thankful that we’re together.” . . .
“That’s right!” Betsie’s eyes danced. “And thank you, God, for the fleas— ”
Corrie goes on to say that the flea infestation kept the guards out of their barracks, allowing Corrie and Betsie to read the Bible aloud twice a day for any woman who wanted to hear. More and more women found the light of Christ in the darkest of places because of fleas.
Yes, there is a reason to be in grateful prayer in every circumstance…
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 NIV
Scriptures of the Week
Philippians 4:6, Matthew 14:28, Matthew 14:30, 1 Peter 5:7, Philippians 4:11-13, Philippians 1:21
Prayer for the Week
Jesus, we love You. We trust You. We thank You that You know every single circumstance in our lives. You are actively involved in helping us every step of the way because we are Your children and You love us. We want to shake off the stress and anxiety of the present moment and be filled with praise instead. Will You help us choose prayerful thanksgiving in every situation? We love You, Lord, and we are thankful. Amen.
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” — 1 Peter 5:7