Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
When I first discovered this verse, I found it to be incredibly freeing. As a natural planner and dreamer, I often ponder the next task or next stage of life. In the midst of always thinking ahead, ’God’s will’ for my life has often felt like a great unknown; that either I was meant to be hearing more from Him about, or obediently walking into blind.
This simple instruction from Paul is one of my all time favourite verses, as it has given my busy mind a place to rest; a daily, succinct, answer to that absolute whopper of a question: “What is God’s will for me?”
And yet, what an answer it is. According to this scripture, God’s will for us is not some great unknowable mystery, and that is a comfort, but it is also no small task. I love the clarity of these instructions, but I am aware that there will always be space for me to pursue these things more.
I suggest that today, you look at these directions afresh, wherever you are in your journey with Jesus. As you reflect on these words, take a moment to practice God’s will for you to rejoice, pray, and give thanks. And in practicing these things, my prayer is that God will teach us how to do these things in all seasons of our lives.
A few things to try today:
To rejoice is to show great joy. As Christians, we have been promised joy regardless of our circumstances. Joy is the second listed fruit of the Spirit. Because of Jesus we can always access joy that comes from Him. When I think of rejoicing I think of my dad at the football, when his team is winning. I have never heard him celebrate anything with more gusto — he rejoices in their victory. And we can rejoice in the biggest victory of all.
Pray this prayer: ‘Jesus, help me to rejoice and celebrate your victory over sin and death today, and everyday.’
Write down 3 truths about God (His character or what He has done) that you can rejoice in today. Read them aloud and ask God to make them real to you today.
2. Pray continually.
Continual prayer testifies to a belief that God is always present, always listening, and always ready to act in our lives. Jesus purchased us closeness with God on the cross, and in prayer we live out our sonship. Since doing the prayer internship at Re:Hope last year, my mind has been blown by how praying more has increased my intimacy with God, and my praise.
Is there anything you have stopped praying about, either consciously or unconsciously? Pray and ask for God to act in this area now, and set an alarm on your phone to remind you to pray for this daily, until it becomes habit.
3. Give thanks in all circumstances.
Giving thanks to God is our tool against feelings of pride on one hand, and hopelessness on the other. In giving thanks we remind ourselves of what God has done already and who He is, leading to more hope. Practicing thankfulness also helps us to move the spotlight off ourselves, and onto Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.
Pray something like: ‘God, help me to remember and take note of the ways you’ve loved me, and the good gifts you’ve given me.’
Take two minutes and write down as many of these ways and gifts that come to mind.
Read, remember and give thanks.