” Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
In this hectic and confusing world, what does it look like to fulfill this charge that Paul left with the Thessalonians? Often when I talk with people about prayer and the role it plays in their life, they respond “I just don’t seem to get around to having quiet time with the Lord.” One non-profit ministry leader told me last week that he doesn’t really pray anymore, he leaves that up to the other people involved in his ministry. Many people tell me they feel guilty that they don’t pray very often.
I’ve come to realize that while people say these things and feel they are not praying, they are often talking with God all the time. This is life-style prayer. Often our definition of prayer is too narrow and associated with the idea that we each need to spend dedicated time with God each day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for dedicated “quiet time” with the Lord and I do feel it is soooo calming and instructive to spend this time. However, let’s face it, it’s not always possible.
Rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks can happen anytime. I talk with God all day long. Yesterday I saw a kid on a bike narrowly miss getting hit by a car. I audibly said “Thank You Jesus!” as I drove away. People often ask me to pray for them and I am committed to do so, but this doesn’t always take the form of me sitting in my prayer chair with a candle lit. God is everywhere and hears us from anywhere. He’s told us he doesn’t expect long, windy prayers. What he expects is sincere concern and care for others.
It’s easy to talk with God spontaneously when things are going well. Remembering to give thanks in the midst of challenging circumstances is another thing. Often God wants us to look beyond the present situation and allow him to show us, in the moment or over time, the “silver lining” purposes which he has put in our suffering.
Paul was a busy guy and so were the people of Thessalonica. I am sure they talked with God throughout their days. I am also sure that they did take time out once and a while – as often as they could – to sit and LISTEN to the Lord.