“So what do we thank God for? Elsewhere, Paul tells us to set our hearts on things above (Colossians 3:1). If what we highly cherish belongs to the realm of heaven, our hearts and minds will incline to heaven and all its values; but if what we highly cherish belongs to the realm of earth and the merely transitory, our hearts and minds will incline to the merely transitory. After all, the Master himself taught us that our hearts will run to where our treasure lies (Matthew 6:19-21).
“So what does this have to do with our praying?
“If in our prayers we are to develop a mental framework analogous to Paul’s , we must look for signs of grace in the lives of Christians, and give God thanks for them. It is not simply that Paul gives thanks for whatever measure of maturity some groups of Christians has achieved, before he goes on to ask for yet more maturity (though in part that is what he is doing). Rather, the specific elements in his thanksgiving show the framework of values he brings to his intercession — and we urgently need to develop the same framework.
For what have we thank God recently? Have we gone over a list of members at our local church, say, or over a list of Christian workers, and quietly thanked God for signs of grace in their lives? Do we make it a matter of praise to God when we observe evidence in one another of growing conformity to Christ, exemplified in trust, reliability, love and genuine stamina?”
(D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers, Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1992, p. 45.)
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