Rejoice Always, Pray Without Ceasing, In Everything Give Thanks 1Thes5:16-22

Rejoice Always, Pray Without Ceasing, In Everything Give Thanks  1Thes5:16-22

‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good’

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22


Is it possible for all believers to live in the Spirit 24/7, or is this a calling reserved for so-called “super-Christians”?


Once, when I was newly baptised, I expressed a desire to live continually in the Spirit – only to be told by a seasoned friend that this was impractical, and that it was exclusively reserved for worship leaders and for those in ‘full-time ministry’. It didn’t make sense to me back then, since the innate desire and the ache for a life of complete transcendence stubbornly persisted. As I ponder these verses today, I see that it was Paul’s desire also for the entire church, and not just a few star individuals, to live in this way.


To the early church, it would have been completely natural to live in a place of continual rejoicing, prayerfulness and thanksgiving, since we're used to the unction and flow of the Spirit in daily life. To us, it can seem a tall order – almost like a new list of burdensome commandments. Yet as we lean into the grace emanating from each word Paul writes, we begin to perceive that it is ‘His energy working powerfully within [us]’ that makes it all possible (Colossians 1:29). The real work of faith is evident in the second half of these verses, enabling us to achieve this standard of excellence. It consists in yielding, rather than quenching the flow of the Spirit; in believing prophesies, rather than allowing fear to create inner defences; in exercising our natural, God-given discernment in order to stay restfully awake rather than existing in a state of somnolent hyper-vigilance.


It is not as difficult as it seems. I remember once meeting a lovely Ugandan nun on a prayer walk outside the walls of Jerusalem. A serene smile played around her lips and eyes as she stopped and looked at me through a prophetic haze. We were both in our individual glory bubbles of shalom, and we recognised one another in the Spirit. She told me she’d seen me in a vision during her prayer time that morning. And so we spent the entire day joyfully building each other up through words of prophecy, thanksgiving and love!


I believe this blissful state of communion is what Paul envisaged when he wrote to the Thessalonians – a people he evidently held dear in his heart, ever since he first had a vision of a man pleading for him to visit them. What he desired for them was this easy flow of grace. In the same letter, he describes himself both as a concerned father and a longing mother -- eager to protect them from anything that would quench the fire of the Spirit in their lives. He shares God’s heart that they be free to design a corporate culture that would facilitate the natural flow from heaven to earth. And he reminds them, as in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, to keep their oil lamps burning for Christ’s imminent return. A gentle warning that is all the more prescient and exhilarating for us in the days in which we are now living!



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