Thanksgiving is inseparable from true prayer; it is almost essentially connected with it. One who always prays is ever giving praise, whether in ease or pain, both for prosperity and for the greatest adversity. He blesses God for all things, looks on them as coming from Him, and receives them for His sake — not choosing nor refusing, liking or disliking, anything, but only as it is agreeable or disagreeable to His perfect will.
Are we praying? I know we are talking a lot. I know we have concerns. I know we have questions. But are we praying?
And how are we praying? John Wesley reminds us that thanksgiving is inseparable from true prayer. It doesn’t matter what our personal opinions might be. It doesn’t matter who we agree with and who we disagree with. It doesn’t matter how we feel or what we think. Brothers and sisters, we are to be a people of prayer — and by extension, we are to be a people of thanksgiving.
What thanksgiving prayers do we have to pray at this moment? For one, we should all pray for this wonderful church of ours. Many wonder about the future, but regardless of what we might decide, this is still God’s church, “working out its own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for God’s good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12b-13). As our Bishops and our Commission on the General Conference and the Judicial Council work faithfully and tirelessly to guide our General Conference in seeking wholeness and unity for the future of our church, let us never forget who is really in charge. In prayer, trust that truly “all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).
We are a people of faith, not fear. Our love for God and our trust in Jesus the Christ form who we are. This is not a time to worry about tomorrow, but to be faithful today. Our world still stands in need of the good news of Jesus Christ. There is enough pain and suffering, violence and despair — in prayer, we ask God to continue to use us to be light in the darkness, and a source of healing, comfort, and grace. Let our prayers be filled with thanksgiving for the opportunity to serve. May we constantly pray that God may refresh, renew, reenergize, and revitalize us as disciples prepared to transform the world.
And let us pray to Launch Out! God is calling us to reach new people, more people, to continue to serve the people in our churches, and to reach out to those beyond our walls. We have the opportunity to extend love and healing, mercy and compassion to a broken world. We have the power to use our gifts and resources to not only Imagine Wisconsin Anew, but to welcome in the new creation that God most desires for our church and world.
Are we praying? We should pray more — and let our prayer be grounded in thanksgiving. Let us join together with gratitude to pray for Launch Out! “Jesus said, ‘Put out into deep water and let your nets down… Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.’” (Luke 5:4,10). Here is our Launch Out! prayer:
God of Grace and Promise, help us to put our trust deep into your promises and faithfully respond to your call. Strengthen our hearts, our minds, our spirits, and our bodies to be generous. Empower us with a vision for new people, new places, and new communities. Grant our churches gifts of new life and vitality. Lead us to a ministry of peace, justice, and mercy. Give us wisdom and courage; as we boldly launch out! Amen.
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).