HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO PRAY WITHOUT CEASING?
I found Paul’s statement concerning prayer in, 1Thessalonians 5:17 so interesting that I just could not get it out of my mind the other day. Paul boldly stated that we should ‘pray continually’ or as it says in the KJV, ‘pray without ceasing’. As I thought about this phrase, several things came to my mind. The first being that if we take Paul’s statement at face value, one has to believe, that we should be able to pray continually and without ceasing in every situation and in every place we go.
This led me to wonder, if it is possible for anyone to obey this teaching. After all, can a person realistically spend all their time in a posture of prayer? Surely, this is not what Paul meant when he said we should ‘pray without ceasing’. We all have days filled with the busyness of life and activities. What if a husband/father spent all of his days at home in prayer, what would become of his business and his family time? Suppose the wife/mother spent all her days in prayer, who would clean the home, cook the meals, and take care of the children? One would also wonder if this would be pleasing to God.
I believe Paul is actually saying to us that as a Christian we should know God intimately. Prayer is not so much a matter of specific times and places, as it is our being conscious of God being with us continually, wherever we go. Would you not think it odd to spend time with a person and find at the end of your time together to have never entered into a conversation with them? If that happened, one would easily conclude, that the two of them are not in relationship with the other.
If our ‘praying without ceasing’, really does mean we are to do everything in prayer then how are we to do it? I really do not think it means that before we undertake anything, we should stop, kneel and offer a prayer up to God. Rather we should have a heart that is in constant communion with God. Perhaps it is to live so close to God that we find ourselves talking with Him wherever we go, asking Him questions and receiving His answers as we seek His help, His wisdom, His guidance.
SPREADING TRUTH, GRACE AND LOVE!
We should realize that a day without prayer is not only a day without His guidance but also a day in which we are incapable of experiencing the fullness of His abiding presence in our lives. I wonder how it would be if we formed a habit of conversing with God with each step we take. Paul mentions in Col 3:17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” It would seem that Paul is telling us that every word we speak aloud and every deed we enter into is a part of our conversing with God and our attitude of thankfulness to Him changes every aspect of our life.
Imagine what it would be like to have every word, that passed from our lips be blessed with prayer before it comes forth. If we could learn that secret, our speech would be full of truth, grace and love, edifying all who hear with Godly wisdom. If our words went to God in prayer before leaving our lips, we would speak out of His nature and there would scarcely be found an angered or unholy word in our speech.
Paul mentioned that if our deeds, meaning the activities that consume our day, were done with the thought of pleasing our Lord, we would live in the full richness of that which He has for our life. What would happen if before doing business at a store, sending out an email or talking with someone over the phone, a silent prayer would come forth? Think how it would change our lives, if all of us would bring our cares before God, seeking his blessing, approval and direction. If we would think about it, is that not how every Christian should and could live?
Perhaps this lack of prayer and communing with our Lord continually is why so many people fail, why our efforts often fall short, why our efforts often fall short, why we have problems with our relationships or why we lack joy in the tasks that are before us. Could it be that this lack of prayer and intimacy with God is why so many people (even born again Christians) are depressed, discontented with life and have such bad tempers?
Some would say, “Do we really have time to pray all the time?” However, I have observed that we have all the time in the world it would seem to do those things which are of questionable importance. Do we have time to seek God’s face before a new business venture, plan a trip, make an investment, go out for the evening or before we watch a movie? Look at all the time we spend sleeping or thinking about what we are going to eat or what we should wear. The good news is that in this case of “praying without ceasing” that taking time to pray does not really take time but is an abiding and ever-present intimacy and conversation with God.. Time is—really on our side in this!
HOW TO BEGIN A ‘GOOD’ HABIT!
Once a man wanted to find out the secret to how Francis of Assisi, a man known for his mighty prayers, would pray. Again and again as he watched him all he could see was Francis, with head bowed and hands clasped in front of him say the name of Jesus—“Jesus! Jesus!” That is how he prayed and in everything he did, he would say that blessed name. As I thought about it I realized that I could at least do that much. Think for a second how much peace we could gain in our daily lives if our first thought and action was to call on His name and our lips carried that heavenly name.
Just think of the times we have spoken bitterly or answered someone with a sharp reply when someone says an unkind word or acts unkindly towards us; of the instances when we are tempted to refuse a person’s request for help and are motivated to react selfishly, of the incidents where we pass by another human in need, or speak an untruth. What if our first reaction would be that our hearts would cry out, “Jesus, help me to do your will” and in the event that a sudden temptation should come your way. “Jesus, save me!”
What would it be like if we were blessed, by such a spirit and habit of prayer? To pray without ceasing is a habit we all could benefit from. The world would have no power over us for we would be strong in Him where now we are weak. We would be victorious over those things that hold us in bondage.
Some think that prayer is only about making request of God. They never talk with God unless they have a need and want something from Him. If we come to God, only when we are in trouble or in danger we will be missing the greatest thing of all, to ‘commune’ with Him. May we want to be with Him with no definite favor to ask but to sit and bask in the sweet atmosphere of His presence, letting His love capture our hearts and transform us as we draw near and remain in Him.
The world has never seen the kinds of activity that we live in today. Everywhere, you look people are mesmerized by cell phones, computers or television. Even with all the gadgets, designed to make our life easier…life is not easy for any of us. The only way any of us can fully be alive is by being with Christ. We will be robbed of blessings, beauty of character and of power in service if we fail to make room for communing with Jesus, each and every day. Let us most of all be fearful, that in the busyness of life we would become oblivious to the fact that He is within and beside us and find ourselves unable to hear and respond to His voice.
Lord help us to live in constant communication with you and to be aware of your presence at all times. We thank you for Resurrection life and for sending the Holy Spirit so we may live in constant communion with you.