“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
When a fire is burning brightly, you don’t have to tell anyone. If they are anywhere close they will feel the heat and see the light. The same is true of the Holy Spirit’s fire in the worship of God’s people. In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonian church, he explains to these new believers what the fire looks and feels like in worship. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances…” At first glance it’s easy to assume that these verses apply to us individually. They do…but every verb is plural, which means God is not only talking to individual believers, but also to the Church. This passage describes what should make up every worship service. Joy, prayer, and thanksgiving are what any unbeliever should see and experience when God’s people worship Him.
There should be joy and praise in every gathering. Remember, the Holy Spirit is a fire. You can do one of two things with a fire – quench it or intensify it. One of the things that fuels the fire of the Holy Spirit is joy. Notice the command here is to be joyful, not to be happy. We cannot choose happiness because it is dependent on outside circumstances. Joy comes from within. It is the fruit of God’s Spirit living in us; therefore believers can choose joy regardless of circumstances. No matter what we are going through, three things are always true: 1) God is in control; 2) God is always with us; and 3) God is working everything out for our good. Unbelievers should always see a church full of joyful people; and that will be expressed in the way that we worship.
Every worship service should also be soaked and saturated in prayer. “Pray continually…” The word for, “continually” doesn’t mean, “continuously occurring.” It means, “constantly recurring.” A good way to picture this is keeping the phone line open and never hanging up. As believers, we should be continually praying for one another. We should be praying for those around us who need Jesus. There is no “right place and time” to pray. Our lives should be lived in a spirit of prayer…always ready to speak to the Father through His Spirit living in us.
“Give thanks in all circumstances…” There is so much to be thankful for any time we gather as believers. We should be thankful that we get to gather together in Jesus’ name. For God’s Church, every day is Thanksgiving Day. We are to be thankful in all things at all times. When our worship is full of joy, prayer, and thanksgiving, people cannot help but feel the fire and see the light of the Holy Spirit among us.
Application: Is your life full of joy, prayer, and thanksgiving?