From our Dear Sister in Christ Kathy Branzell of National Day of Prayer!
Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:18b-20
As you settle in to read through this message, I am praying that you have been filled today with wonderful food, fellowship with family and friends, and especially filled and overflowing with thanks to God for His abundant and everlasting lovingkindness throughout your life.
Our hearts have been filled and overflowing in prayer for you in the weeks leading up to this day. While our attention, appreciation and affection should be first and foremost directed in an eternal perspective towards God, the holidays, and every day, are also filled with earthly emotions from the past and present that seems to swell and spill over into these days as well. Your National Day of Prayer Task Force family has been praying for you throughout the weeks and months leading up to the holidays; praying God would be glorified and that He would fill your gatherings with fruitfulness from the Spirit in you and guard your heart from the enemy who seeks to steal your joy and silence your thankfulness.
As a military daughter and then wife, I came to think about holidays as a day on the calendar chosen to celebrate an occasion. Holy days that were meant to mark our hearts more than a day on the year and so when my dad or husband was going to be away from us over the calendared day, we got to choose our own day and celebrate our own way. We could choose to be sad and disappointed on the day when a chair sat empty on a holiday, or we could choose to celebrate twice, once before they left and again on the day. I learned an attitude of being twice as blessed instead of a mindset of less.
The truth is that we give or should give thanks to God EVERY day. We should celebrate the birth and resurrection of Jesus EVERY day. We should express love to one another EVERY day and not just on one calendared day each year and so I want to encourage you now if you did not have the Thanksgiving you had hoped for; if there were people missing from your table because you share them with in-laws or they are working, serving or because there has been a dispute between you, I am praying that you will pray now and ask God to show you how to reach out and invite them over for a do-over. People are more important than whatever opinion is keeping you apart. Jesus dined with many people throughout Scripture that were far from His Heavenly Father, but He came to love them, He listened to them, He treated them with kindness and gentleness that drew them to follow Him. Jesus modeled and mandated that we be more committed to giving people a piece of our heart rather than a piece of our mind. We must take every thought and word captive and ask ourselves, “What do I hope to accomplish by saying this?” and “Will what I actually accomplish be pleasing to God or just settle some earthly and possibly evil score?” Remember, Jesus washed the feet of one who would betray Him at holiday dinner table.
The world is filled with darkness, meanness, and wickedness. We are called and commanded to be light and love, fruitful ambassadors of Christ manifesting the transformation His forgiveness, grace, mercy, and love have made in our lives. More than how beautiful our dinner tables look, we need to be aware and prepare for how our hearts perceive and receive people and how they perceive Jesus because of what we say and what we do. This is how we respond in holy thankfulness to God for all He is and all He has done in our lives. A response that is worth celebrating and sharing every day.
Will you please join me in prayer right now?
Lord Jesus, thank You for our lives and the countless ways Your love fills our days. We pause right now to remember the many, many ways You have blessed us, been patient and forgiving, gentle and generous. Thank you for Your work and ways in our life and how You fill us not to hoard Your love and goodness but so that we would overflow and show others what their lives could look like, the joy and peace they could experience every day following You. Help us to see and seize everyday opportunities to praise and thank You. Please heal the hurt in our lives, wrap our wounds and loss in Your love and renew our hearts to bless You. Thank you for Your enduring lovingkindness towards us. If we did not bless You today, cause us to humble ourselves and repent for the pride or pity that we embraced instead of expressing the thanks that You are due. Remind us that our thoughts, words, and deeds are to be filled and overflowing always with thanksgiving to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen!
Serving Him with gladness,
President, National Day of Prayer Task Force
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About the National Day of Prayer
The National Day of Prayer tradition predates the founding of the United States of America, evidenced by the Continental Congress’ proclamation in 1775 setting aside a day of prayer. In 1952, Congress established an annual day of prayer and, in 1988, that law was amended, designating the National Day of Prayer as the first Thursday in May.
National Day of Prayer Task Force