Can you do anything continually? Can you sleep or play continually? Can you eat or meet continuously? I don’t think so. I don’t think a human being can do anything continually. I know, how about being selfish? Well that getting closer. But the Apostle Paul in one of the harder verses in Scripture said, “Be always joyful, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). In the NKJV it says “pray without ceasing.” How about the New Living Translation’s “Never stop praying.” How about “in everything give thanks”? This is God’s will for each believer. This is a superlative call to action in our rejoicing, gratefulness and prayer. Why and how do we do this?
Why the present pluperfect case of continually? I think that God desires of us this state of mind and heart because anything else allows the carnality of our earthly body to seep in and muddy the water. We may not go from rejoicing to complaining and grumbling immediately, but we open the door for it. If we are not seeking God in prayer, whom are we seeking? If we are not giving thanks in all things, for which ones are we not thankful? In the Jewish tradition, the whole house was swept of yeast. “Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?” (1 Corinthians 5:7). This passage goes on to say that old yeast is wickedness and malice and that without it the bread or our lives are sincerity and truth. This cleansing if you will becomes part of the Passover celebration annually. For Christians, the previous Jewish Rabbi Paul was saying that this habit must be continuous. What is yeast but a puffer-upper? As the son of a former yeast company executive, I know how it works. I love fresh bread from the oven. But that is not the biblical point here. Unleavened bread is a holy sacrifice unto God. A life without pride and sin is gained only through the continuous sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God in all things.
Do we give thanks for all things or just in all things? This one is a little harder. Do we give thanks to God for the Cancer in our body? Well, I believe that God did not cause the cancer in our body, but He did allow it and He will use it for our good and His glory. God created the earth as Paradise without sin and disease. Humans let it in through sin. Now we live in an imperfect world, but God is still sovereign. He knows all about it and wants us to praise and thank Him anyway. Why, because as we praise we submit to His authority and goodness. We look to His eternality and omnipotence. He will make our illness work out for good. If we trust Him as 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “He is faithful” and will provide a way out or through the trial so that you can stand up or firm in it. God is allowing it to mature and complete us. That is the faith-life He wants from us because He will continuously prove faithful to us. As a cancer care chaplain I find most patients almost miraculously being thankful or at least accepting in their circumstances because God has used it and them for a higher purpose that has been a blessing.
A continuous action of prayer or praise is an attitude of the transformed heart. It is a Holy Spirit filled life given fully over to God. This completely filled; confident and courageous state comes through being made new by the perfect power of the Holy Spirit. It is not of man but supernaturally from God in His complete love for us. So, pray continuously as you continually rejoice and give thanks in everything with God’s help.