“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT
Our joy, prayers, and thankfulness should not fluctuate with our circumstances or feelings. Obeying these three commands—be joyful,
never stop praying, and be thankful—often goes against our natural inclinations. When we make a conscious decision to do what God says, however, we will begin to see people in a new perspective, and we will have an easier time being joyful and thankful.
God commands us to never stop praying. To spend all our time on our knees would be impossible, but we can have a prayerful attitude at all times, regardless of our posture or the place. Such an attitude is built upon acknowledging our dependence on God, realizing his presence within us, and determining to obey him fully. Then we will find it natural to pray frequent, spontaneous, short prayers. Regular times of prayer will lead to God’s transforming power in our lives. A prayerful attitude is not a substitute for regular times of prayer but should be an outgrowth of those times.
Have you ever grown tired of praying for something or someone? Paul said that believers should never stop praying. God always hears us and always answers. He is sovereign and has a plan. Sometimes he answers us with a yes or no, but often he tells us to wait. Praying and waiting humble us before God and teach us to rely on his plan instead of our own.
Paul was not teaching that we should thank God for everything that happens to us but in everything that happens to us. Evil does not come from God, so we should not thank him for it. But when evil strikes, we can still be thankful for God’s presence and for the good that he will accomplish through the distress.