Saturday, November 29, 2014
Rejoice, Pray, Give Thanks!
1 Thess. 5:16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
As Paul closes out his letter to the Thessalonians he has these staccato words of advice. It is a formula for practicing godly behavior and in this we find a balance, or constancy. There is something about a follower of Christ looking for the best in what they see around them.This is an optimism that should help us to live a life of rejoicing. Optimism is contagious and when we are abiding in the presence of the Lord we are overwhelmed by the immense possibilities that we can experience in him.
This abiding which brings rejoicing is experienced in prayer. Prayer without ceasing is really an attitude of abiding in the presence of the Lord, both when we are still and when we are engaged in his mission. This makes us grateful for the opportunities which arise. John Wesley said it this way, “Pray without ceasing — which is the fruit of always rejoicing in the Lord. In everything give thanks — Which is the fruit of both the former.” There is a connection between the three and they all reflect the state of our spiritual life.
Trying to find a simple formula for the Christian life is probably not a good idea. We get too caught up in following the formula that we can miss the point. However, there are markers along the way that can help to keep us on the right path. There are disciplines in life that can help us on this journey. They include the practice of rejoicing. No, not everything in life is going to be praiseworthy — but there is a discipline of looking for the good. It’s far too easy in life to be brought down by negative thinking — or by always looking for the weaknesses of others. This is not helpful. Instead, we are to rejoice always — keeping a spirit of optimism alive. This helps to charge our batteries on a daily basis. It’s why we can get out of bed looking forward to tackling another day.
Praying without ceasing — now that’s always got to be a good idea. Learning to abide in the sweet presence of our Lord day in and day out is a spiritual discipline. It’s an easy-going conversation with him when we get up in the morning, when we go to bed at night and at all the events in-between.
Finally, we must live with a heart full of gratitude for the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Sometimes the circumstances may not make sense to us, but this is where we must simply trust in the Lord.
No, not a cliche formula, but a way in which we can practice our spiritual life on a daily basis. Will we always succeed? No, probably not, but rejoice, pray and give thanks are good things to practice!
Lord, may I abide in you and your presence today, living into the formula you have provided. Amen.