Does it trouble you that in the Bible we read about giving thanks, rejoicing and praying always? I find the admonition difficult if not impossible as a goal or lifestyle. How about you? “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers” (1 Thessalonians 1:2 NIV). There it is, always and continually. How about 1 Thessalonians 5:16 saying, “Be joyful always, pray continuously, give thanks in all circumstances, for it is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” The Message paraphrase says “day and night,” but that too seems hard. I have been doing a lot of thinking about this in this Christmas season, but especially because we have a daughter-in-law who just has had surgery at Mass General to remove a large brain tumor. My prayers have been more than day and night as servants of the Lord in 2 Chronicles 6:20 were commanded, “May your eyes be open toward this temple day and night.” The psalmists use this phrase often, starting with the first psalm speaking of the blessed man, “ whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.” We read in Psalm 32:4, “For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.”
I do believe that God wants us to be always seeking Him. This is an attitude and heart of prayer like David, “The man after God’s own heart,” that knows that all things are first sifted through the hands of the Lord and as “Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God” (Luke 18:27). It is the recognition as Jesus also said in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Where do you think all things derive? God was and still is the Creator. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). You can trust Him to do all things for your good and His glory. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I don’t know about you, but every time I try to do things on my own, I screw them up. I have come to a place where I trust God to lead me and not my own ideas in all things. That means I try to seek him always before I act or speak. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:4-6). This is the way I have tried to live ever since God spoke to me audibly saying, “This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21). The complete verse says that “whether you turn to the left or right you will hear a voice behind you saying, this is the way; walk in it.” Yes, when God speaks we should listen to Him, not the talking heads of CNN or any politician. They are all frail humans, broken sinners.
Throughout Scripture God admonishes us to follow Him and His commandments always. “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29). But, they were “stiff-necked” and would not do it. What is it that causes us not to listen to God’s voice? It is pride, the first sin in the Garden and from the fallen angel Lucifer (Satan). The word “always” occurs 134, and “continually” another 26 times in the Bible. But the word “all” occurs over 4,000 times speaking of God’s sovereignty, power and presence. I am convinced or convicted that it’s vital for me to always follow God. The only way that I can do it is in the power of the Holy Spirit. When I trusted in God in Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit came to dwell in me as my Counselor, Convincer, “Convicter,” and Comforter. I just need to listen to Him- always.