- Joe Steenholdt
1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 - Providence Prompts Prayer
Knowing our gracious God is in control, we can give thanks in everything
Read / Listen
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 28
Q. How does the knowledge
of God’s creation and
providence help us?
A. We can be patient when things go against us,
thankful when things go well,
and for the future we can have
good confidence in our faithful God and Father
that nothing will separate us from his love.
All creatures are so completely in his hand
that without his will they can neither move nor be moved.
Paul was no stranger to hardship. He had strenuous missionary journeys filled with angry mobs, shipwrecks, and imprisonment. Yet throughout his letters, he uses the verb “rejoice” and the noun “joy” fifty times! Thankfulness to God is a distinguishing marker for the Christian. Ingratitude is a marker of the wicked, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom. 1:21).
The Thessalonian Christians faced severe persecution for their faith when Paul wrote this letter. Yet near the closing of it, he commands them to rejoice always. Even though they faced threats from their fellow citizens, their primary purpose when gathering together as believers was to rejoice in what God has done for them in Christ.
Knowing God’s providence should prompt prayers of praise since we know Who the source of life is. Rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks are all linked together. Praying is our primary way of communicating with God, and the immediate posture toward Him should be one of gratitude.
When others say they need prayers or offer up prayer requests, the primary approach to praying to God is asking for specific needs. This is perfectly acceptable and even included in each of these devotions! However, verses like 1 Thessalonians 5:18 and Philippians 4:6 remind us that the foundation of a prayerful life gives frequent thanks to God.
Prayer does not always need only to be tied to a specific ‘quiet time’ during your day but can be included in short sentences of thanksgiving as you acknowledge the good gifts God gives you throughout the day.
There are many blessings in your life that you can acknowledge your gratitude to God for, and Q&A 28 tells us to be thankful when things go well. Then passages like 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 tell us to give thanks in everything. Notice how it says in everything, not for everything. You do not need to give thanks for illness, for losing your job, or getting a flat tire, but you can give thanks for what God still provides in the midst of those things.
You can give thanks for the promise that He will not leave you on your own and sends the Holy Spirit Who comes with joy (1 Thess 1:6). This joy from God helps the Christian to see God’s fatherly hand in whatever we face and know any momentary sufferings pale in comparison to the eternal glory God has in store for His people (2 Cor. 4:17).
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God is the Father of Lights and giver of every perfect gift (From James)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Rejoice and thank God for Who He is and what He has done for you in your life and in sending His Son Jesus for your salvation.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Hebrews 5