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Pray Without Ceasing: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-18

1 Thessalonians 5:12-18  We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.  And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak be patient with them all.  See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

 

Summary: We are continuing the Life Together series this week by addressing the need for us to be a community of people who practice unceasing prayer. For the church to live healthy and happy as we are waiting for the return of Christ, unceasing prayer must be part of the fabric of the life of our church. In this passage, prayer is not seen as merely the matter of making requests, but rather a constant consciousness and interaction towards God: a “practicing the presence of God.”  Constant communion with God like this will lead us to be people who are constantly rejoicing and giving thanks in all circumstances.  

 

Loving God’s Glory

Describe your present habit of enjoying God through prayer? Does your description align with Paul’s view of the Godward life of prayer in 1 Thessalonians 5?

How does prayer facilitate thanksgiving in all circumstances? Give an example of this in your own life.

Loving God’s People

Our church covenant states that we “by praying earnestly for the health and growth of the members of Christ Covenant Church.” How are you doing in walking out this commitment? What distractions could you remove to help you walk in fulfillment of this commitment?

What benefits do we receive by engaging in prayer at the corporate level, actually praying with one another and not only for one another?

Loving God’s World

How does our joyful, prayer-filled response to the difficulty of life reflect the goodness and sovereignty of God to a world that is apart from him?

 

This experience of abundance which is the result of both extraordinary ingenuity and untamed desire is a tell-tale sign that we have moved from a traditional society to one that is modern, from a time when God and the supernatural were “natural” parts of life, to one in which God is now alienated and dislocated from our modernized world. In traditional societies, what one could legitimately have wanted was limited. It was, of course, limited because people lived with only a few choices and little knowledge of life other than the life they lived; their vision of life had not been invaded, as our is, by pictures of beguiling Caribbean shorelines, sleek luxury under the Lexus insignia, time-shares in fabulous places, or exotic perfumes sure to stir hidden passions.  [David Wells]

 

“I commend to you the reading of biographies of those who have been used by God in the church throughout the centuries, especially in revival. And you will find this same holy boldness, this arguing, this reasoning, this putting the case to God, pleading his own promises. Oh, that is the whole secret of prayer, I sometimes think. Thomas Goodwin uses a wonderful term. He says, “Sue him for it, sue him for it.” Do not leave him alone. Pester him, as it were, with his own promise. Quote the Scripture to him. And, you know, God delights to hear us doing it, as father likes to see this element in his own child who has obviously been listening to what his father has been saying. “ [Martyn Lloyd-Jones]

 

The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given, and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. Tis true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God’s vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the meantime is constantly increasing, and you are everyday treasuring up more wrath; the waters are continually rising and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God that holds the waters back that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward; if God should only withdraw his hand from the floodgate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, then thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it. [Jonathan Edwards]

 

O God whose will conquers all. There is no comfort in anything apart from enjoying thee and being engaged in thy service; Thou art All in all, and all enjoyments are what to me thou makest them, and no more. I am pleased with thy will, whatever it is, or should be in all respects, and if thou bidst me decide for myself in any affair, I would choose to refer all to thee, for thou art infinitely wise and cannot do amiss, as I am in danger of doing. I rejoice to think that all things are at thy disposal, and it delights me to leave them there. Then prayer turns wholly into praise, and all I do is to adore and bless thee. [Valley of Vision]