"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV
From cover to cover, the Bible makes it clear that the Lord hears and answers the prayers of His people. But what happens when we seek God's will in a situation, and no matter how long or hard we pray, we still don't know what to do? We do what we know is the Lord's will in every situation and circumstance, as revealed in First Thessalonians 5:16-18.
First we're told, "Be joyful always." (v. 16) When I was in a very discouraging trial recently, I heard the Lord speak to my heart, "Choose joy!" He led me to Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NIV), which says: "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior." Habakkuk was in effect saying that no matter how bad things got, he was determined to remain joyful in the Lord. He goes on to reveal how he manages that: "The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights." (Habakkuk 3:19) In other words, he knew he wasn't able to be joyful in his own strength; he was drawing on God's power to help him stand firm in his faith. We can do the same because as Christ followers, we have the Spirit of God dwelling on the inside of us. After hearing the Lord speak to my heart in the midst of my turmoil, I began to declare repeatedly, "I choose joy!" At first I had to do it by faith, but before long, I began sensing the joy of the Lord rising up in me. And for the first time, I experienced a peace in my soul about my situation.
Next, we must "pray continually." (v. 17) Think of being on the telephone with God. We should never hang up the phone, but we should stay on the line with Him at all times. Constant communication is what is called for in this Scripture. The more we practice this principle, the more sensitive we will become to the subtle promptings of the Holy Spirit. When He prompts us to pray about something, we won't put it off until a later time, but we'll do it right then because we're already in a prayer mindset. Consider Nehemiah. The Bible says that while he was in the middle of a conversation with the king, he whispered a prayer to God. (Nehemiah 2:1-5) When we adopt a prayer mindset, we will find ourselves doing the same thing. Our praying should be like breathing. We shouldn't have to think about it. It should just naturally flow out of a vibrant, intimate relationship with our God. Being in tune with the Lord in this way will make us more likely to hear from Him the moment He is prepared to reveal His will for our situation.
Lastly, we're told to "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for [us] in Christ Jesus." (v. 18) David declared, "I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak His praises." (Psalm 34:1 NLT) This attitude of his was undoubtedly one of the reasons why God called him, "A man after My own heart." (Acts 13:22) We can be people after God's own heart, too. No matter what is going on in our lives, we can choose to give thanks and praise to our God. We can thank Him for all of the blessings, rewards, and opportunities He has already given us. But we mustn't stop there. We can thank God for all of the good things He has in store for our future. The Bible says that Abraham praised God in advance for giving him a son. (Romans 4:20-21 TLB) When we thank the Lord for blessings that haven't manifested in our lives yet, we demonstrate great faith, and we know that it's faith that pleases God. (Hebrews 11:6) Scripture says: "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him." (2 Chronicles 16:9 NKJV) One of the ways we can show our loyalty to God is to give Him thanks and praise in the midst of our problems. When we demonstrate our faithfulness in this way, we will surely witness the Lord moving heaven and earth to reveal His perfect will for our lives.
Prayer: Lord, when I don't know what to do in a situation, even after I've prayed in faith, remind me of these powerful principles. No matter what comes my way, give me the grace I need to continue to pray, praise You, and rejoice in You. Thank You that as I do my part, You will reveal Your best for me in every situation and circumstance!
- J. M. Farro