"You always leave the lights on!"
"You never give me a chance to speak!"
How many times have you said things like these to someone or has someone said them to you? In most cases, these words are an exaggeration. How many of us "always" do things like leaving the lights on or "never" do something like give someone else a chance to speak? We speak in absolutes like "always" and "never" out of frustration, not because we really mean them.
Paul uses words like these in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, but these words are not exaggerations. They are not absolutes being used out of frustration. They are words that reflect God's will for us.
Verse 16 tells us that we need to rejoice "always". We need to be glad and to take delight in the Lord. He is the source of true joy. This is so important that Paul gave that same instruction to the Philippians, stating it even more emphatically (Philippians 4:4).
Verse 17 tells us that we should pray "continually." Not just once in a while, or when we are going through tough times, but all the time. We should pray without ceasing. God desires to hear our prayers. He wants us to lift up our prayers to Him day and night without losing heart. He wants us to seek His will and His answer to our prayers.
And verse 18 tells us that we should give thanks in "everything." Not just in some things. Not just in good things or in good times. We need to give thanks in everything, in good times and in bad.
All of these things are God's will for us, so remember to rejoice in the Lord, pray, and give thanks, not just today, not just tomorrow, but every single day of your life.