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1 Thessalonians

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©Jason Hall

Chapter 5:16-18 (ESV)

Posted on May 04, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 5:16-18 (ESV) - Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

Question to consider: What does it mean to “pray without ceasing”?

In the closing instructions of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonian church, he has addressed how they were to live in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. He began with the most difficult task of living in holiness in a godless culture which persecuted them for doing so. He then moved on to how they should live amongst their brothers and sisters in the church which served as an oasis in the midst of this worldly wrath. Today’s passage focuses on the personal attitudes of individual believers.

People are forever seeking “the will of God” as it pertains to future events or big life decisions. They do this because they want to select the path that will lead to the most peace and fulfillment in this life. Generally, that path is not revealed to us. Instead Paul reveals that the will of God is in the pursuit of holiness in the world and a spirit of gratitude toward Him. So when Paul wrote about the will of God related to the world, he exhorted them to “abstain from sexual immorality.” In our attitude toward God, Paul emphasized that His will is for us to rejoice and give thanks in all circumstances and continue to pray.

The idea of always rejoicing is not a command to always be happy. Praying without ceasing is not a command to live a monastic lifestyle where you spend all your waking hours in prayer. Giving thanks in all circumstances is not saying that we should receive every affliction as if we’ve been given a tremendous blessing. We should receive these things in the same manner as we did when Paul encouraged us to have hope in our grief when a believer dies.

These things are about finding our joy in Christ no matter what we face in the world. So we can grieve the loss of a loved one in Christ while rejoicing in the hope that we all will be raised together to spend eternity with our Lord. We can recognize the pain and sorrow we feel at worldly afflictions while holding fast to the joy we have in knowing that it is not being suffered in vain but for the good and glorious will of Christ Jesus. Our gratitude is also rooted in this, for outside of Christ, suffering is meaningless, and if someone faces meaningless suffering, they eventually fall into despair. Above all, when we face the trials and tribulations of this world, Paul is saying that we should turn to the Lord in prayer and not abandon it.

When we face times of difficulty, we are tempted to stop praying, stop coming to the Lord in His word, and stop coming to fellowship with other believers. I think it is because we want to project an image of strength and happiness and view vulnerability as shame. This should not be so. God has provided His word, has given us prayer, and has lavished upon us a congregation of believers to lift us up and draw us closer to Christ.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for welcoming our prayers and listening to our cries. Thank You for providing Your fixed and blessed word which helps us to know You and find comfort in Your eternal arms. Thank You for giving us brothers and sisters in Christ who can administer His love and encouragement, intercede for us in prayer, and provide a helping hand. What a joy it is to be known and loved by You and Your people. Amen.