Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
At first glance this list of commands might seem impossible. We have so many things demanding our time and attention, where would these things fit?
But the 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 meaning isn’t impossible, it’s practical. And if we listen to what it says it can change our life and our faith. Within these short few verses is some powerful wisdom.
In this blog post we are going to dive into this passage and see what the pray without ceasing meaning is and how it applies to our life. We are going to start by looking at the context in which these words were written.
The Context Of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
1 Thessalonians was written by the Apostle Paul to the church in Thessalonica. Really this isn’t a book as much as it is a letter. Paul deeply cared about this church and wanted to encourage them and help them in their faith. This is a very personal letter written with zeal for the spiritual well-being of this church.
Dr Tom Constable gives three purposes in the writing of this letter. “First, he wanted to encourage the Christians in Thessalonica who were making good progress in their new faith. Second, he desired to correct misinformation about himself and his fellow missionaries that some of his critics in Thessalonica were circulating. Third, he wrote to give additional instruction that would contribute to the Thessalonians’ spiritual growth.”
The passage we are looking at falls into that last category; it is to give instruction that would contribute to their spiritual growth. So let’s dive into the meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and see what truth it holds for us today.
The 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Meaning
This passage is a brief series of commands that covers the basics for Christian living. These are general commands that are not just useful to the church in Thessalonica but are also used today.
If you understand and follow these commands your life and faith will grow, and you will be able to experience the joy that God has for you.
To help you better understand the 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 meaning we are going to break down each command individually.
Rejoice Always Meaning
The New Testament continually reminds followers of Jesus to rejoice. Seventy times this command is found. What’s interesting is this command is given in the middle of challenging circumstances. The Bible reminds us that we can always rejoice because of what God has done for us.
When Paul says, “Rejoice always” this isn’t some disingenuous command to fake it til you make it. Rather it is a reminder that we should have incredible joy in what Christ has done for us AND hope that our present trials will end.
For Christians joy is not found in our circumstances, but rather in Jesus. Regardless of what we are going through we can experience deep-seated joy.
Pray Without Ceasing Meaning
The command here is not that we be in prayer every moment of every day. Rather that we pray regularly and frequently. Paul is showing his readers that prayer is a fundamental activity in a Christian’s life.
It’s through prayer that we can be in continual dependance on God AND conscious of his presence with us. Paul is encouraging his readers to continually pray throughout the day. Whether we are struggling or full of joy, we should go to God in prayer.
Give Thanks In All Circumstances Meaning
Similar to pray without ceasing, to give thanks in all circumstances shows how followers of Jesus are to be in continual connection with God.
Notice that Paul doesn’t say we should give thanks in good circumstances. But rather we should give thanks in all circumstances. We can do so because we know God is working all things together for his people.
Now, it might not seem like it from our vantage point. It might seem like our lives are falling apart. But God promises his followers that everything is falling together. And one day we will be able to see how he took even our dark moments and turned it into something good.
Therefore, we can give thanks in all circumstances because we trust that God is working in ways we cannot yet see.
For more on how God works everything together for good check out: What Does ‘All Things Work Together For Good’ REALLY Mean?
For This Is The Will Of God In Christ Jesus For You Meaning
Paul ends this short list with an acknowledgement that these commands are part of God’s will for every believer. These are not just good ideas, they are God ideas. They are things that should be the markers of a Christian’s life.
That means that followers of Jesus should live with joy. They should continually be praying. And always thankful for what God has done, and is doing, for them.
Applying The 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Meaning To Your Life
So, now that we know the 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 meaning and the pray without ceasing meaning, I want to switch gears to how we can live this out.
While these commands are relatively simple to understand, they are really difficult to master. So I want to give you three simple practices that you can try out.
I want to encourage you to try these out. It will be difficult and maybe unnatural at first for you. It’s like going to the gym for the first time in a long time, it’s painful. But after some time you get used to it and you start getting in better shape. So it is with our faith; the more we practice these things the more we will grow.
So, here’s how we can live out the meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 in our everyday life.
1. Find Things You Can Rejoice In Every Day
There is always something to rejoice in, the problem is we often just aren’t looking for it. To rejoice always, we need to find things to rejoice in.
Each day think through your day about what you were thankful for that day. Could be anything; a sunset, a good dinner, a friend, a family member, your bed, your favorite shirt, whatever. Find the good things in your day and thank God for them; rejoice that he gave you those things.
If you practice this regularly you will start noticing these things more naturally throughout the day and have plenty of reasons to rejoice.
2. Practice Small Prayers Throughout Your Day
I think sometimes we picture prayer as this long and uninterrupted time. We need to set aside time and get alone with God. And that certainly can be a great way to pray. But it’s not the only way we can pray.
We can also practice short prayers throughout the day. Saying a prayer as we walk into a meeting. Praying one sentence for the person we drive by. Thanking God for something beautiful we saw. A great way to pray without ceasing is to practice short prayers throughout the day.
If you’ve never done this it might take some getting used to. But it’s a good discipline to develop, and it can show you how God is always with you.
3. Find A New Way To Connect With God
Rejoicing always and giving thanks in all circumstances is only possible with God. Without him we will rejoice when our circumstances are good and life is going up and to the right. But when things take a turn for the worse joy will be fleeting.
So to give thanks in all circumstances we need to stay connected with God. This will help us keep our eyes on him. Find a new way to connect with him. Go for prayer walks, get a prayer journal, find a devotional, or write poetry. Whatever it is find a new way to connect with God.
If you are looking for some more specific ways check out my blog post: 15 Creative Ways You Can Spend Time With God
So, how can you apply this passage to your life this week?
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Thank you for reading this blog post about the meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, I hope that it helped you better understand the pray without ceasing meaning. If it did would you share it with a friend?