Reading: Communicate that you thank God for the other person

STEP ONE: Relationship - Build it.

Philemon 1:4I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers ...

4. Communicate that you thank God for the other person.

Don't you just hate it when someone comes up to you and says:

"Do you have a minute?”

"I have some concerns.”

"I would like to talk to you.”

"Can I speak candidly with you?”

"I have heard several people say some things, and I would like to talk to you about it.”

You know what is coming. This friend, acquaintance, teacher, or boss wants to set you straight on something, and they have already judged you guilty and in need of their critique.

A few years ago, I had the whole prayer team from the church that had just called me to be their pastor come up to me with this kind of thing.

"Pastor, a few of us concerned members want you to know that we have been praying for you over these last few months. And we have gathered up our concerns and have assembled them into this anonymous letter we would like you to read.”

When people tell you that they have been praying for you, it is not always a good thing.

I had pastored two churches before. This was my third - a then struggling, once thriving church that was imploding in on itself. I had succeeded in my first church - a country church that doubled in size. I had succeeded in my second church - a church plant in Vancouver, Canada, that had daughtered two churches. But this, my third church, was another story.

Though once a congregation of 300 people, it had dwindled down to 100 or so. The previous pastor received most of the blame for the downturn and was let go. With a lot of hope and promise, I was called to take his place.

Good things had happened in my previous churches. But not with this one. Under my expert leadership, I helped lead this church from 100 people down to 50.

So, I suppose there were plenty of things to pray about for this group of concerned members.

Back to the letter; I refused to take it or read it. I have always refused to read anonymous letters. My feeling is that if you have something to say or write, attach your name to it or forget about it.

The group was shocked. After all, the things written in their letter were things they had prayed about.

In verse 4, Paul communicates to Philemon that when Paul prays he gives thanks to God for Philemon.

Before he asks Philemon for anything, or shares his concerns, or even begins to deal with the complicated situation of Onesimus, Paul first assures Philemon that he cares about him.

The group of the concerned members had never once communicated that they were thankful when they prayed for me. So if they were not grateful to God for me, what were they doing before God concerning me?

Can you guess?

They were blaming me, just as they had done with the previous pastor.

Who wants to be accused, put down, reprimanded, criticized, or even corrected? It is not that we don't need people to do these things with us, but we tend to take it or hear it only when we know that those doing it genuinely care about us. And the only way we know that people care about us is that they say and show it repeatedly.

So, perhaps you have concerns you want to bring to your spouse, your parents, your kids, your boss, or your pastor. If you have not repeatedly communicated that you care about them in a multitude of ways, you would be better off keeping your concerns to yourself. Why? The people you want to help with your advice will not be able to hear what you say. They will react defensively or maybe even go on the attack. You must first work on communicating that you care about them.


Start by actually praying for them. And I don't mean that you pray that God would change them into an image of your liking. Thank God for them as they are. Find something in them for which to give thanks.

Thanking God for someone does two things:

One, thanking God for someone helps you, the one doing the thanking, start to think of positive things about this person. Maybe you could be thankful for some aspect of their character. Or you could be grateful for the good things they have done for you or others. Find something to be thankful for.

Two, thanking God for someone will force you to humble yourself before God concerning this person. It is hard to thank God for someone and at the same time think negatively about them. When you pray to God for a person, you are in effect inviting the all-knowing, all-forgiving One, the One who knows both of you - the good, the bad and the ugly - to sit in on the relationship. And in His presence you are less likely to find fault with the other person.

After you have prayed for someone for awhile, find a way to communicate that you have been praying for them, not that God would change them, but that God would bless them.

His name was Tom. Our church in Vancouver rented office space above his sound studio. We often tried to get Tom to come to church, but he saw no need for it.

I liked Tom, and I liked music, so we often talked.

One day he confided in me that his sister was sick, and he was quite worried about her. I told him I would put her in my ACTS. He looked at me puzzled, but I just left it there.

A week later, I asked about his sister, and he told me the report from the labs came back negative - good news. I told him I was not surprised as I had put her in my ACTS.

He worked up the nerve and asked me what this ACTS thing was.

So I took out my Day Planner, which had ACTS sheets in it for every day. Each ACTS sheet had the headings: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication (one's needs). The idea was to write something every day under these headings as one's prayer to God.

So, I showed Tom every ACTS sheet of every day since I had told him I would pray for him and his sister. He could read his name and concern in my prayer journal, day after day. It was there in black and white.

Tom was so impressed that he asked me where he could get ACTS sheets.

When you know that someone is positively praying for you, you can't help but feel like they care about you. And when a person feels cared for, they are more open to you.

So make a habit (Maybe you could go pray every day for people in a section of your contact list on your phone.)of praying for people, especially those with whom you have issues. Never criticize or offer suggestions to someone you are not in constant prayer about.

One more thing. Paul communicated that he thanked God for Philemon whenever his name came up in his prayers. To communicate that you thank God for someone is to honor them. It is like a teacher or a coach thanking the parents for the outstanding performance of their son or daughter. In the process, both the parents and the child feel honored.


Philemon 1: 4I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers...

Philippians 1:3I thank my God every time I remember you.

Colossians 1:3We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you ...

1 Thessalonians 1:2We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.

2 Thessalonians 1:3We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.

2 Timothy 1:3I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.

1.Paul had a habit of communicating with the people to whom he wrote letters that he was thankful to God for them. Notice he did this at the beginning of each letter (for example, in the letter to Philemon, the Colossians, the Thessalonians, and Timothy). Later in each of these letters, he deals with some difficult relationship issues. In effect then, he builds the relationship before finding fault. Why do people often find fault first, and then try to salvage the relationship when this doesn't go well?

2.Even if you never told the person that you were praying for them, what would your prayer for them accomplish? Why do it?

3.What does telling the person that you are praying for them accomplish? Why do it?

4.When someone communicates that they are thankful for you and are praying for you, how does it make you feel?

5.How would praying for a person and telling them you are thankful before God for them help when some complicated relationship issue comes up in the future between the two of you?

Last modified: Monday, August 13, 2018, 9:07 AM