"I am grateful to God -- whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did -- when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day." (2 Timothy 1:3)
"I'm praying for you!" My friend's text message meant so much to me, coming out of nowhere when I was in a time of great distress. I believe in prayer, and there is something so empowering about knowing that people who love you are praying for you. How encouraging it must have been for Timothy to read that his mentor, the Apostle Paul, remembered him constantly in his prayers, even though Paul is in prison. How was Paul able to live such a life of prayer?
Certainly his faith relationship with the risen Christ was the core of his life. But how did he keep his focus on that relationship? His comment to young Timothy points to at least four keys to the spiritual life: (1) "I am grateful to God." Paul practiced gratitude, which is an attitude that has to be intentionally cultivated. He spent time and effort to reflect on God's goodness to him, especially in the gift of God's grace given in his Son, Jesus Christ. The practice of gratitude brings us into the flow of the Spirit. (2) "I worship." Even in prison, Paul was connected to his faith and his faith community through worship -- giving praise to God, seeking to glorify God's name, listening to God's Word in Scripture, sharing in prayer, surrendering to God's will. Regularly joining with other disciples to worship God is a powerful pathway to sharing in the life of Christ. (3) "With a clear conscience." Worship must lead to and be supported by accountable discipleship, in which we are helped by our brothers and sisters to examine our daily lives, our behavior, our morals, our relationships, in order to discover where we need to repent, to make amends, to change direction. Few qualities are more life-giving than a clear conscience. (4) "Prayers night and day." Paul didn't just pray in emergencies; he had daily habits and disciplines of prayer, morning and evening, alone and with fellow believers. It was the daily rhythm of prayer that taught him the deep secrets of intimacy with God and openness to serve others. Prayer is the exercise of our relationship with God.
I invite you to share in the life of Christian community at Trinity in ways that will develop your spiritual practices of gratitude, worship, examination of your conscience, and daily prayer. You will be blessed by your brothers and sisters in the faith, as Timothy was blessed by Paul, and you may also become like Paul to someone else, encouraging a strengthening of others in the way of salvation.
Grace and peace,
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