Topic: Do We Have To? (October 17, 2016)
Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:12–28
Bible in a Year: Isaiah 50–52; 1 Thessalonians 5
Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:16
Joie started the children’s program with prayer, then sang with the kids. Six-year-old Emmanuel squirmed in his seat when she prayed again after introducing Aaron, the teacher. Then Aaron began and ended his talk with prayer. Emmanuel complained: “That’s four prayers! I can’t sit still that long!”
If you think Emmanuel’s challenge is difficult, look at 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “Pray continually” or always be in a spirit of prayer. Even some of us adults can find prayer to be boring. Maybe that’s because we don’t know what to say or don’t understand that prayer is a conversation with our Father.
Back in the seventeenth century, François Fénelon wrote some words about prayer that have helped me: “Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one’s heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you; tell Him your joys, that He may sober them; tell Him your longings, that He may purify them.” He continued, “Talk to Him of your temptations, that He may shield you from them: show Him the wounds of your heart, that He may heal them . . . . If you thus pour out all your weaknesses, needs, troubles, there will be no lack of what to say.”
Prayer: May we grow in our intimacy with God so that we will want to spend more time with Him.
For further study, read about Jesus’s example of prayer in John 17 and Luke 5:16.
Prayer is an intimate conversation with our God.
Insight: Paul ends this letter with a frenzy of instructions. In today’s verses, one small string of phrases is closely linked and includes a key to their significance: “for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (vv. 16–18). We often wonder what God’s will is for us in our circumstances. Phrases like these, though couched in a presentation that seem to minimize their importance, help us to clarify what it is that God desires of us. Do you want to follow God’s will? “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”