When I was serving in the British army during World War II, I was stationed in the deserts of North Africa. One negative aspect of desert living conditions is that they tend to provoke murmuring and complaining. This happened with Israel many times, and it often brought God’s judgment and disfavor upon them. I got so weary of the desert, the food, and the blaspheming British soldiers that I began to complain. When I did this, I lost the sense of God’s presence and blessing.
I decided to set aside a special day to fast and to ask God why His presence seemed to have withdrawn from me. I said, “God, why are You not near to me? Why do I have to continue this monotonous, wearisome life in the desert?” By evening, God had given me the answer. He spoke to me very clearly, saying, “Why have you not thanked Me? Why have you not praised Me?” As I meditated on what God said, I realized that I had lost the sense of His presence because I had become unthankful.
In due course, the Holy Spirit directed me to various passages along this line, including 1 Thessalonians 5:16–19: “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit” (nasb). Again, the implication is that if we do not rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in everything, we are quenching the Holy Spirit! By murmuring and complaining instead of praising and giving thanks, I had quenched the Holy Spirit in my life.
God expects us to continually offer up a sacrifice of praise from our lips—not just inwardly from our hearts. We have to make our praise vocal by giving thanks to the name of the Lord!