“And pray always without ceasing…” 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
Have you ever wondered what in the world Paul was thinking when he wrote this? Or perhaps thought that since he spent so much time in prison that he just naturally was of the opinion that all people had the time that he had to pray, and therefore had no qualms about expecting all believers to do as he did, and pray without ceasing.
But there are many more scriptures that admonish us to this way of life. Ephesians 6:18, Luke 18:1, Luke 21:36, Romans 12:12, Colossians 4:2, and 1 Peter 4:7 bring us to the same conclusion; we must be constant in prayer. So why does God’s Word behest constancy in prayer? What is the need for consistent prayer, and how are we to accomplish this along with a career, laundry, kids, cooking, shopping, playing, dishes, reading, school, choir, and the other assorted necessities of life?
This morning was not unlike any other weekday morning. My husband and I awoke to the sound of the Brett and Kim show, the Newsboys belting out a song of worship, and the always fun morning brain buster. We continued to lie awake in bed, wound around each other, with a mumble here and there about the possible answer to the brain buster and the fact that Kim is way to perky at this time in the morning and someone should give her a reality check. My husband is always first out of bed, and a little while later, I finally roll myself from the comfy covers into a fluffy bathrobe and slippers, stumble over the cat, and grab some coffee as we discuss our day. Even after he leaves for work, we communicate via Facebook, text, and phone. As husband and wife, open, frequent, and, if possible, immediate access to one another is our privilege and our right.
This is the very nature of praying without ceasing; being in consistent communication with our Father, Savior, Comforter, and Guide, because we love Him, need Him, and desire to talk with Him often. We are called by Biblical directive to regularly set aside time for private prayer in which we can seek the face and heart of God with dedicated single-mindedness. But what allows us to pray always is what can be described as “arrow” prayers; those prayers that are breathed from the heart, at times spoken, at times just knowing a prayer from our heart to His is being heard.
New Testament epistles were often started with the writer thanking God upon every remembrance of the recipient. It has become my aim to breathe a prayer at every remembrance of those that I am blessed to have in my life. My mom prays for all that are involved whenever she hears the wail of a siren. I bring “arrow” prayers to the throne of grace as I search for something I cannot find (which is happening more and more often!), as I read status updates of friends on Facebook, while reading my Bible, and as I answer phone calls from needy clients. I plead for God’s help when drawing on eyeliner, and burst forth in fervent prayer when I realize it’s 4:30 p.m and I have yet to even think about what to fix for dinner! Every time my husband tells me of an appointment with a potential client, I pray for favor and blessing upon his work, and I never fail to pray that all grease stains will magically and effortlessly be drawn out of his jeans. I consistently cry out for the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart to be acceptable to my Lord, and ask that all I say and do be acceptable in His sight. My soul overflows with thankfulness that His mercies are new every morning and His blessings are innumerable.
As I have learned to walk in ceaseless prayer, the resulting peace and intimacy with the Lord is astonishing. My cup began to overflow! Could this be it? Could this be the reason to pray always? The all-knowing God of the universe simply wants us to talk to Him, to have our mind stayed on Him, to be the center of everything we experience, at all times!
Being always in prayer is infinite in its advantages and benefits. As we grow in constant prayer and draw nearer to Him, He draws near to us, guiding us in His will. We are more able to hear His still, small voice leading. We have greater ability to stand against temptation as it becomes second nature to cry out to Him and take hold of the Hand that was nail-scarred for just such a time. We feel His Arms instantly wrap around us in times of heartache as we more easily recognize His touch. The most mundane tasks become exciting times of communion. We more easily discern right from wrong as we learn of Him, our hearts become more tender for confession and repentance, we more readily see the light He provides for our path, and are enabled to walk in it. Being always in prayer surrounds us with a shield of divine power and protection, empowers us to become more like Christ, allows His redemption and restoration to flow through our lives, and is an avenue through which we renew our minds.
“Prayer must fasten all the other parts of our Christian armor…Though set and solemn prayer may be not be seasonable when other duties are to be done, yet short…prayers darted out, are always so. We must pray with all kinds of prayer, public, private, and secret; social and solitary; solemn and sudden…Our enemies are mighty, and we are without strength, but our Redeemer is almighty, and in the power of His might we may overcome.” (Matthew Henry’s concise commentary)
I have heard it said, “How do I know my Lord is alive and real? ‘Cause I just talked to Him 5 minutes ago!” I love that! 🙂 To see the face of our Lord and follow hard after Him ought to be our one true desire, our one true obsession, our one true need. Oh, how I long for His presence and communion, how my soul thirsts for Him, how I hunger after His righteousness! Oh thanks be to God, it is our privilege and our right to have open, frequent, and immediate access to Him…without ceasing!