Updated: Feb 11
Let joy be your continual feast. Make your life a prayer. And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God’s perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 TPT)
James Moffatt wrote of these verses, “To comment adequately on these diamond drops would be outline a history of the Christian experience in its higher levels.”
The peculiarity and stringency of these three precepts is the unbroken continuity that they require. To rejoice, to pray, to give thanks, are easy when circumstances favor, as a taper burns steadily in a windless night; but to do these things always is as difficult as for the taper’s flame to keep upright when all the winds are swirling around it.
These verses identify three areas in our lives we must focus on:
1) Unbounded Joy
Not only rejoicing in happy things but sorrows also. The Christian can rejoice always because their joy isn’t based on circumstances, but in God. Circumstances change, but God doesn’t. This unbounded joy isn’t found in materialistic things but in Christ himself. You can have pleasure in material things, you can have pleasure in sins. And yes there is pleasure in those things but it is only for a short period. The real joy, the unbounded, and never-ending joy is only found in Jesus. The joy He gives also stays with us in the middle of storms. We will be tranquil and joyful in every circumstance.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
2) Praying Continually
Christians are to pray continually. We can’t bow our heads, close our eyes, and fold our hands without ceasing, but those are customs of prayer, not prayer itself. Prayer is communication with God, and we can live each minute of the day in a constant flowing, conversation with God.
There is significant, important value in a time where we shut out all other distractions and focus on God in a time of closet prayer (Matthew 6:6). But there is also room- and great value in every moment of the day fellowship with God.
There are many valuable implications from this command:
· The use of the voice is not an essential element in prayer.
· The posture of prayer is not of primary importance.
· The place of prayer is not of great importance.
· The particular time of prayer is not important.
· A Christian should never be in a place where he/she could not pray.
“Prayer is not everything, but everything is by prayer…”
3) Giving thanks to God no matter what happens in our lives
We don’t give thanks for everything but, in everything. We recognize God’s sovereign hand is in charge, and not blind fate or chance.
“When joy and prayer are married their firstborn child is gratitude.” (Spurgeon)
After each of these exhortations, we are told to do all this because it is the will of God. The thought isn’t “this is God’s will, so you must do it.” The thought rather “this is God’s will, so you can do it.” It isn’t easy to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks, but we can do it because it is God’s will.
Faith in God’s unfailing goodness to men enables the Christian cheerfully to accept the disappointments and suffering in social life. This faith can only be held by prayer, i.e., a constant reference of all life’s course to God and such prayer must be more than mere resignation; it implies a spirit of unfailing gratitude to God, instead of any suspicious or rebellious attitude.
These three virtues combine to form the wonderful expression of Christ’s life within us.