Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.”
1st Thessalonians 5:16-19 NKJV
We don’t often see verse 19 grouped in with a teaching on the first three verses, do we? I wonder why, because it is of drastic importance. The Holy Spirit is our direct link to the God of the universe. Without Him, we have no way to communicate with the Father. And more importantly, the Father has no way to communicate with us. But what does it MEAN to “quench the Spirit” exactly? Let’s turn in our bibles to Ephesians:
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:30-32 NKJV
We quench the Holy Spirit when we harbor bitterness and resentment in our hearts. We grieve the Holy Spirit when we talk poorly of others. We grieve the Holy Spirit when we desire to hurt others with our words or actions, or gossip about them behind their backs. When we do things that we know are not God-honoring, we quench the Holy Spirit and hinder our prayers to God. Anyone else noticing a theme here? I don’t want to spend too much time on this, especially since I already HAVE written about forgiveness, TWICE even! Suffice it to say, forgiveness is of vital importance if you desire to see your prayers answered.
I’d like to spend some time today focused on what it means to:
Pray without ceasing.
1st Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV
That’s a difficult concept to wrap your brain around, isn’t it? When we think of prayer, we’re imagining being on bended knee every night, crying out to God. We’re seeing a family gathered around the dinner table. We see a room full of students on exam day, or a family gathered around a hospital bed. We fail to see the mom who has reached the end of her rope and is crying in the broom closet. We don’t see the woman who is growing large with her first child praying in the lobby of her doctor’s office, hoping against hope that her baby will be okay, even though she hasn’t felt him move in three days. We don’t see the writer preparing her heart to share what God has shown her that day.
Praying without ceasing, to me, means being in constant communication with the Holy Spirit. What does that look like?
- Beginning my day with prayer. Every morning, I drag myself out of bed, let the dog outside, grab my bible and supplies, and open up my email devotions. Before I start reading, I close my eyes (I focus better that way) and ask God to open my heart to what He wants me to see. I ask Him to point out any unforgiven sin in my life and ask for His forgiveness in those situations. I ask Him to guide my time in His word, that it would be productive in bringing me closer to Him.
- Being open and listening throughout the day. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit will whisper something God wants me to do/say, but it’s harder for me to hear Him if I haven’t started my day in prayer and in His word.
- When something comes up, no matter how small, pray. Even if it’s a silent prayer just asking God to give you wisdom and guidance, take a moment to focus on that connection. Acknowledging you need God’s help in the moment changes your perspective and helps you to honor God in everything you do.
- End the day with prayer. Every night, I crawl into bed (it’s cold, and I have bad knees, so no kneeling for me) and just spend time talking with God. I usually open with the Lord’s Prayer, and just let the Holy Spirit guide me through what He wants to say:
In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Matthew 6:9-13 NKJV