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A Letter from the General Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery

Minding Our P’s & Q’s
November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving Day! The presbytery staff joins me in wishing everyone in our churches and beyond a blessed day. Whatever your form of observing the holiday, one thing is constant: On this day we are reminded that all we have is sheer gift, and our only right response is to give thanks to the Giver of all.

When I was a child, in Canadian schools we were taught not just the “3 R’s” but also auxiliary graces such as penmanship, elocution, and etiquette. One of our chief commandments in good manners was, “Mind your P’s and Q’s,” shorthand for “please” and “thank you.” How we ask for things and how we respond when given things is fundamental to proper decorum. We learned quickly that it also heightened our prospects of success in getting what we want.

Paul also links how we ask for things and how we respond to what we are given, from a more theological perspective: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6) How we ask in prayer matters. We ask “with thanksgiving.”

“Please” is shorthand for “if you please.” It is asking without demanding. It grants freedom for the one being petitioned to say either yes or no, as they please. It says, in effect, “I will be thankful to you either way.”

So this Thanksgiving, I invite us to mind our P’s and Q’s in our prayers. Let us make our requests with thanksgiving, acknowledging that however God pleases to respond, we will be grateful. Don’t ask small. Don’t ask timidly. Just ask “with thanksgiving.” And the sweet fruit of “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

Ask heartily. Ask thankfully.

Peace to you in our Lord,

The Rev. Dr. Sheldon W. Sorge, General Minister

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