“He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking guile; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:10-12.
These next three verses which begin our study are one sentence that gives the key to rejoicing always.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
The words, “…pray without ceasing” have the meaning of continuous prayer, without intermission. While this sounds like a difficult thing, it really is not as complex as it seems.
Many people tend to formalize prayer, making it a sort of ritual that will not reach God if everything is not done correctly. Nothing could be further from the truth.
God is ever attentive to the prayers of those who have accepted Christ as Savior, the only thing anyone can lack in prayer is practice. If a person does not talk to God they will not begin to see how simple it is.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8a.
Open up your heart to Him and He will bring a peace upon you through the Holy Spirit.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.
“Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving…” Colossians 4:2.
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men…” 1 Timothy 2:1.
Prayer is often joined with thanksgiving and this can lead to praise from a thankful heart. Praise can flow forth from a heart filled with love and thanksgiving for all God has done. This praise can come in a similar manner as it does in the first sentence of the Lord’s Prayer.
“Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.” Matthew 6:9b.
Hallowed, means that the Father’s name is to be held in reverence, sanctified; if this sentence is merely repeated from memory it is nice but it does not have much meaning unless it comes from the heart.
When “Hallowed be Your name” comes from the heart it becomes a form of praise because the one saying it is giving God the glory He deserves.
The Jewish prayer quoted below better expresses the power of the words “Hallowed be Your name.”
“Let His great name be magnified and sanctified in the world, which He hath created according to His will.”
We come now, full circle, to thanksgiving; your prayers can be about anything, health, financial, food, clothing, housing, or confession of known sin, but try to give thanks for something.
Be specific, “Lord thank you for helping me find the bargains while grocery shopping.” Pretty lame is it not? But guess what, you have noticed a blessing from God.
The next time you pray, give thanks for something else. Now you have two things to be thankful for.
These things will start to get your attention and they will begin to pile up until one day you are struck by the realization that you have been receiving an avalanche of blessings without noticing them before.
Your thanksgivings will now come from a grateful heart, a thankful heart, a heart that will, “Rejoice always.”
Just as a parent loves it when their child thanks them for all they have done for them, or even just for one thing, God the Father loves it when His child is thankful.
So, how do you, “pray without ceasing”?
The obvious objections are how can an accountant, computer technician, policeman, or any of these focused concentration type jobs pray continually? For the most part you probably cannot.
But what you can do and should do is pray for your work, or perhaps I should say workmanship, every day before you start; this will go a long way toward keeping your boss happy.
You can then use any pauses in your work schedule to pray silently. For instance, when you finish one account and go to start another one, do you usually get up, stretch, get a cup of coffee, and sit with it for a few minutes? Can you pray while you drink it without robbing your employer?
Do you usually gab with another employee while drinking your coffee? Can you go back and pray instead, without hurting their feelings?
As you can see there are a lot of little moments when you can pray; on your commute to work, breaks, during lunch.
Again, most emphatically, a Christian must not rob their employer by praying when they should be working, nor should they be taking up the time of their fellow employees with talk about God when they both should be working, this is theft and often brings resentment.
To press the matter a little further, there are a number of jobs that may not take a terrific amount of concentration; cleaning houses, house painting, warehouseman, or repetitious factory work.
However, even a fast food restaurant can take all of a person’s focus for long periods at a time; look for opportunities, but do not rob your employer, and no matter what your job, never forget the safety rules.
During a regular prayer time in a quiet place, your prayers should consist of confessing known sin, praying for others, the needs of others, or yourself, praise, thanksgiving, or just worshipful prayer. In other words, your prayers will be fairly organized in what you say to God.
May I suggest that your prayer time always include petitions for the salvation, the needs, and the protection of your family and loved ones? And may I also suggest that you lift them up every time you think of them?
“Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children…” Lamentations 2:19a.
Now, as for the rest of your time of continual prayer there will be, for the most part, little time for organization, so you might ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind the things that need prayer.
As a result your continual prayer will be like train of thought; whatever comes to mind pray silently, or out loud if you wish if you are alone.
So your prayer might go something like this. “Forgive me for my anger back there, help me to be kinder; Lord please save uncle Joe, oh, and aunt Louise; help my child with their finals test today; please heal that lady from church who asked for prayer; this job I am doing is dangerous, do not let me injure myself; save my best friend Don; protect my wife and children; praise you Father for being so kind to me, and for giving me such a wonderful family; God you are so big, look at those clouds and these green trees.”
Do you see how this can work all day long? Try not to be repetitious, even though you will repeat yourself often throughout the day. Soon, you will find yourself just talking to God.
You have a friend, not an invisible friend, but the One who powers the whole universe, and will still listen to us prattle on. You cannot do that with anyone else.
Some folks can do continual prayer because they want to be in the Father’s presence always, some pray a lot because they love Him and some very little because they do not realize the power of prayer.
Speaking of power, if you are in a desperate situation I recommend prayer and fasting, see Daniel 9:2-22.
Often I have found fasting with prayer a means of getting answers even after praying long without otherwise getting results.
America needs prayer and fasting now to save our land and to end her destruction!
Continual prayer has been studied here because it has the authority of the Scriptures, and it is the way for rejoicing always.
“Do not quench the Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19.
To quench the Spirit is to stifle His work either in the believer or in the church. When a person is moved by the Holy Spirit to warn another of the danger of the sin they are engaged in and they do not, that is quenching the Spirit.
When a person is moved by the Spirit to speak to someone about the Lord, and the opening is clear, and they do not, that is quenching the Spirit.
If one is not allowed to exercise their gifts in church, such as healing, working of miracles, or prophecies, to name a few, that is quenching the Spirit.
But the Spirit was quenched long ago when profane men split the church up into clergy and laity, effectively silencing the Holy Spirit in the majority of Christians; Christians who now sit dumbly in pews while an educated few dispense words from the Bible.
And it went downhill from there.
“Do not despise prophecies.” 1 Thessalonians 5:20.
The word prophecies here is not always meant in the predictive sense, such as, the Lord says that thus and such is going to happen.
Prophecies here are used in an interpretive sense, declaring the will and counsels of God as found in the Scriptures.
People were not to say, “No you cannot say those things here in church”, rather the words spoken out, whether predictive or interpretive, were to be examined against Scripture as stated below.
“Test all things; hold fast what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
This verse reminds the church that the things folks prophesy to them are to be examined in the light of Scripture.
“These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing [the Holy Spirit] which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.” 1 John 2:26-27.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1.
“These are murmurers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.” Jude 16-19.
We are not only to test all things, but we are told to hold fast what is good which connects us to the next verse.
“Abstain from every form of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:22.
The New American Standard Bible phrases this verse exactly the same but the marginal in that version says, “appearance”. If we were to insert that word, the verse would read this way, “Abstain from every appearance of evil.”
This seems to make it more personal, though a little more controversial. Does the Christian get numerous tattoos and piercings, or does the Christian woman dress like a lady of the evening.
The first reply from someone like this is, “I have a right to dress the way I want to. No one has the right to judge.” Actually, you do not. As a representative of Jesus Christ the righteous; you are told to abstain from every appearance of evil.
Well, “My rights!” will you be commended for this at the judgment seat of Christ?
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10.
“But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we [Christians] shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Romans 14:10.
“So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” Romans 14:12.
Those who demand their right to dress or act any way they want to without being judged, are being conformed to the world, this is not from Christ.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2.
“It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.” Romans 14:21.
Abstaining from every form of evil also entails the places where the Christian goes and the questionable people they hang out with.
“Be not deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals.” 1 Corinthians 15:33, American Standard Bible.
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. Brethren, pray for us. Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28.
Pray Without Ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-28 taken from godisrevealed.com posted on 9-25-13 updated on 1-25-21.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.