Prepare Your Heart: Rejoice and Pray
Do you get overwhelmed by the expectation of the holidays? I do. Sometimes we get so caught up in needing everything to be perfect that we forget the real point of all of it – to glorify and give thanks to God.
Romans 1:21 says: “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.”
When we stop thanking God for every single day as a gift, we lose touch with reality, our hearts get hardened and we become foolish. The stories we hear every year of stampedes on Black Friday are foolish and sad, right? That’s not what the holidays are supposed to be about.
The good news is, we do not have to be trapped in this more, more, more world.
As Christians, we need to look at what we can do to change the trajectory, not just for ourselves, but for others. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” God knows that the world can be confusing and foolish, but he gives us his wisdom and grace to overcome that.
Paul instructs us on how it is that we are to set our hearts straight, especially today before this season.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16
Let’s look more closely at the “rejoice” and “pray” parts.
Paul understood joy is the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. He even says it’s one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Joy is infused with hope.
He tells us to not just rejoice here and there but always. This is not to say God causes or overlooks our suffering or our troubles. It’s to say even in those situations God is at work, so we have a reason to be joyful, to rejoice. Paul understands this because, when he wrote it, he was dealing with some challenges himself. When we rejoice, the Holy Spirit can infuse in our hearts hope, a hope we can find nowhere else.
Prayer is kind of a humbling thing to do. It’s a surrendered posture. It’s coming to God and saying, “You know better than I do. You have power I don’t have.” It’s giving ourselves up wholly to God and understanding we live absolutely dependent on him.
Pray all the time in all circumstances. Pray throughout the day. At any time, not just in certain times. Not just when you come to church on Sunday. Not just before a meal. Not just on Thanksgiving Day. Pray all the time – whenever!
You might be driving and there’s a moment of silence and a friend pops in your mind – that’s your cue to pray! You might be having trouble sleeping, and maybe that’s a good time to pray for something. Maybe you’re just having a moment waiting for the doctor, for your gas tank to fill or your lunch order to be ready. These are all good times to pray. You pray whenever. Pray continuously.
Jesus says, in Luke 18, we should pray always and never give up. He assures us that our Father God who loves us will hear our prayer. As we come into this often frantic and foolish holiday season, let’s remember: rejoice always and pray continually!
How will rejoicing and prayer make a difference in your family gathering, holiday meal or end-of-year deadlines? Write 1 Thessalonians 5:16 on your bathroom mirror, or on a Post-It note on your dashboard or desk. Let these daily reminders help you keep an eternal perspective, with the Holy Spirit’s help.