1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 — “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Paul answers this simple question with a most emphatic, “continually”! Always, without ceasing, never ending, never stopping — unbroken contact with God is our true need. Jesus allows us because of His work on the cross to have restored fellowship with God and be in constant contact with Him. That means that as we go about our daily lives, we live in an ever-present attitude of prayer. We give thanks in all circumstances, with a heart full of rejoicing, and so we remain aligned with His heart and intentions throughout the day.
Alright, let’s be honest — do we really experience this? Do we really find ourselves truly in this unhindered, uninterrupted state throughout the day? Some may answer “yes” — and I won’t fault you for it. Many will say “I do my best” and that “I experience something like this” — again I don’t question your honesty…But for those of you who struggle (I include myself in this category), can I just encourage you that the difference between the way things are and the way things ought to be, is often the experience that Christians relate to most profoundly. Circumstance is the chief enemy of this unhindered contact…and when it hits we are often ripped out of this pleasant state of thankfulness and rejoicing and plunged into a fury of things that act as an undertow that pulls us out into the depths of an ocean of despair.
How do we get out of the undertow? There is a “church answer” that we just pull ourselves out of it, or shake it off…pull ourselves up by our spiritual bootstraps so-to-speak. But the Bible answer is that we learn to give thanks, in any and all circumstances. This is not easy at first, of course. We must discipline our hearts to understand God’s desire for our good no matter what. When we develop a grateful heart that begins to give thanks, even for life’s hardships, we are getting closer to God’s heart. We find it easier to joy and joy again (rejoice)…we are transformed in mind and body. We trust God’s heart that He works all things for our good and His glory. (Rom. 8:28) The avenue of “prayer at all times” opens as He transforms our minds and hearts into His. The more we pray continually, the more natural it becomes.
Father, sometimes it is hard for me to stay in tune with You. I get bowled over easily by the stresses and worries of the day. Please help me to stay connected to You through my day. Help me to remain in that state that Your Son knew of being perfectly aligned with You. I want to have Your joy constantly. Help me to joy and joy and joy and joy! Thank You for Your great patience and lovingkindness toward me. Thank You for my life and each breath that I have. Thank You for my family and friends, thank You for my church and for Your grace. You are amazing and I will remember that even in the hard times of life. Thank You for every moment, even the difficult ones, that You allow me to experience. I am grateful for Your great glory. Amen.