Week 4: Be joyful, prayerful, and thankful
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (NLT)
In these challenging and uncertain times, we have a beautiful opportunity and privilege before us to practise this scripture, to always be joyful, to never stop praying, and to always give thanks, for it is the will of our Beloved.
What does Paul mean when he commands us to ‘always be joyful’? It seems like quite a strange concept, but it is important to remember that he wrote this to new believers who were suffering persecution because of their faith. This command to rejoice always must be viewed not as a matter of feeling, but rather of obedience. When we find ourselves in difficult times, or trials, or if people have mistreated us because of our faith, we have a choice: either we can focus on our trials and lapse into self-pity or we can choose joy – knowing in Whose hands our eternity lies.
The idea of ‘never stop praying’ means praying with persistence. The word “pray” is in the present tense and carries the idea of customary prayer. Continued prayer is a state of steady communion with God, it becomes a part of who you are, a daily lifestyle. Great people of God in the Bible persevered in their appointed times, and non-appointed times of prayer. They never got out of communication with the ‘throne of grace’. They constantly had a sense of dependence on God.
This Scripture says that in ALL circumstances, we are to be thankful, this includes the good and the bad. When all is going well with us and according to our plan we seem to find it easier to be thankful to God, but when bad times strike, or when we get knocked off our feet for a while, we feel that we’ve somehow been abandoned by God, and struggle to count our blessings.
Take time today to see God in the little things, see Him in the fact that you woke this morning, see Him in the provision of your home, health, and food, see Him in the laughter of your children, and in the singing of the birds. Everything we have, and every opportunity we get to experience, is by the hand and grace of a loving Father. Take time today to journal these blessings, and to thank God for each one. Today, choose joy, thankfulness, and continuous prayer.
Image: Pexel/Matheus Bertelli