Looking for a lovely Thanksgiving prayer for friends this year?
I have a lot to fuel prayers of thanksgiving for friends. I feel God has brought friends into (and out of) my life at just the right moments.
In thinking about a topic for this article, I asked myself:
“What are some Biblical examples for thanksgiving prayers for friends?”
We need to develop a habit of thanking God for friends, and thanking our friends for specific characteristics they have that we value in our friendships with them.
First, God has blessed us with fellowship among His followers, and friendships are formed from among those people. We should be giving thanksgiving in our prayers to God for our friends.
Second, I think it is important to let our friends know that we are thankful for them. In doing this, being specific builds the friends up and shows them their God-given strengths when it comes to lasting friendships.
Paul and John give us examples of thanksgiving prayers for friends and encouragement of friends as they address their friends in their letters. Other apostles showed their thankfulness for friends in the greetings portions of the letters they wrote to various churches and people as well. A few characteristics of their friends are identified in those greetings.
In Paul’s letters, Paul often mentioned why he was thankful for his friends, starting in Romans and continuing throughout the New Testament letters that he wrote.
“Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world. (Romans 1: 8, NLT).
“How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me” (Philippians 4:10).
“Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing.” (2 Thessalonians 1:3, NLT).
“I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people” (Philemon 1:4-5, NLT).
The qualities Paul was thankful for are good characteristics for each of us to develop when it comes to being a friend. These same characteristics should be what we search for when we look for new friends.
Basically, Paul was thankful for their flourishing faith and their care for him and others.
I especially like Philippians 4:10 where he is thankful for the way the Philippians were concerned about him. Don’t miss the little word, “again.” Caring for Paul (and probably many others) was not a one-time occurrence. Paul says they had done it before. That consistency is worth giving thanks for.
John also said much about the things he was thankful for in his friends (but didn’t actually use the word, “thankful”) as he penned the book of 3rd John. He started with “Dear friend” either to give his friend, Gaius, instructions or to express his hopes for him.
“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. Some of the traveling teachers recently returned and made me very happy by telling me about your faithfulness and that you are living according to the truth. I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth” (3 John 2-4, NLT).
“Dear friend, you are being faithful to God when you care for the traveling teachers who pass through, even though they are strangers to you” (3 John 5, NLT).
“Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good” (3 John 1:11, NLT).
John was happy (and I can only imagine thankful) that his friend (Gaius) was strong in spirit, was faithful, and was living according to the truth. These are definitely some of the characteristics of a godly friend.
Characteristics of friends to be thankful for
I was wondering what other characteristics I could find among my friends for which I should be thankful. I sent a short survey to some of my friends who I believe are godly. The survey asked two questions:
- What are your first thoughts for a definition of a Biblical friend?
- What are the characteristics you most appreciate about a Biblical friend.?
I received a wide range of answers, from the short to rather long. As I looked over the responses, I realized there are many qualities for which we can be thankful for in the friends God gives us. Each of mine, and probably each of yours, exhibits at least a couple of these characteristics.
- Someone who has patience, kindness.
- Someone who points me to the Lord.
- Someone who is slow to speak and quick to listen.
- Someone who deeply cares about your personal relationship with Jesus and encourages growth.
- Someone who uses Biblical standards and understanding when giving advice about family, kids, etc.
- Someone who keeps me going when I am down because they understand what I am trying to do with my life and affirm its value.
- Someone who balances grace and truth in the context of friendship.
- Someone who is like Ruth: compassionate, honest, respectful, devoted, and diligent.
- I always go to where two are better than one because when one falls, the other is there to pick them up.
With all these characteristics to say thanksgiving prayers for friends, what is stopping you from thanking God for the people in your life?
We need to start by remembering to be thankful for friends. The number of times Paul says he’s remembering or being thankful for his friends and co-workers in Christ in his letters is astounding.
God knows how often I pray for you” (Romans 1: 9a, NLT).
“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God” (Philippians 1:3, NLT).
“We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Colossians 1:3, NLT).
“For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong” (Colossians 2:5, NLT).
“We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly” (1 Thessalonians 1:2, NLT).
“As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 2:13, NLT).
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them” (1 Timothy 2:1, NLT).
“Timothy, I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers” (2 Timothy 1:3, NLT).
“I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon” (Philemon 1:4-5, NLT).
As I wrote this article, I was challenged to connect with my friends more – and to make sure I share with them why I am thankful for them.
Based on the responses of some of my friends to my two questions above, I discovered an interesting correlation. Each of them said what they look for in a friend, but each of them exhibits the characteristics they are looking for. I can be thankful for each of them, and at the same time evaluate and change my behaviors to match up and be a good friend to others.
This conversation is far from over. We each need to remember to include thanksgiving prayers for friends regularly, and we need to connect with friends and let them know why we are thankful for them.
Maybe it’s time to pull out some paper, cards, and pens. Maybe it’s time to send intentional text messages. Maybe it’s time for an email. Maybe it’s time for a phone call or a video meeting. Let’s not put it off. Tell God about the friends you are thankful for, and tell friends to encourage them.