#ThinkingTuesday – Change your thinking; Change your life.
At the start of this year, we examined 12 instructions given to us from I Thessalonians 5:12-22. We decided to implement these instructions by doing at least one of them each month. Following our list, the instruction for August is:
PRAY WITHOUT CEASING
It’s a fact that there’s no religion without prayer. While many religions have set and definite times for prayer, Christianity does not. Instead, we are given the command to pray without ceasing. At first glance, this seems preposterous but on closer look, there is a good reason why we are given this instruction.
What Does Pray Without Ceasing Actually Mean?
The concept of “ceaseless praying” is found, not just in I Thessalonians 5:17, but also in Ephesians 6:18a. In the Greek, it translates to “praying without intermission” i.e. without allowing gaps to intervene between our times of prayer [MHC]. Therefore, to pray without ceasing means to be in constant communication with God, to involve Him in everything you do and seek his guidance and approval for all your life’s activities. If you do these things, you will be like the Israelites in the wilderness who carried the Ark of the Covenant before them and trusted God in the cloud by day/fire by night to guide them to the promised land – they prayed to Him without ceasing.
P – raise
R – epent
A – ask
Y – ield
You’ve probably heard about the PRAY acronym in the box above before. A well-rounded prayer life is one that incorporates all four aspects, rather than just the A, for asking. Our prayer lives must expand from using God as an ATM to communicating with Him about everything else and submitting to His will in every area of our lives.
It is possible to pray without ceasing when prayer is not a one-way call but a two-way conversation.
Imagine you are on a phone call, and you are the only one speaking for long periods of time without getting any reaction or response, wouldn’t it be tiring? But where there’s a good response from the other party, the conversation can go on forever!
When we’re the only ones talking in prayer, we become frustrated and unable to maintain the command to live without ceaseless gaps in our prayers. However, the beauty of true Christian prayer is that God speaks back to us when we pray to Him. If your entire prayer life has consisted mostly of you talking to God and not Him speaking back to you, you are missing out on the fullness of what it means to pray!
Many Christians only feel like they’ve prayed when it involves screaming, shouting, warfare, casting out demons or deliverance but prayer doesn’t always have to be this way. When it comes to talking, you can have gentle conversations just as you can have violent conversations. ALL counts as prayer.
Sometimes the most meaningful conversations we can have with our heavenly father involve us simply lying at His feet like Mary and listening to what’s on His heart for our corner of the world – i.e our sphere of influence.
God longs for us to seek His face not just His hand.
He wants to us to seek Him for WHO HE IS not just WHAT HE CAN DO. For a long time, the crowds followed Jesus because of the miracles He would perform and the free food they would receive, but His disciples remained with Him all the time because they understood His identity as the Messiah. They were able to “pray without ceasing” because they moved beyond seeing Jesus as a tool for getting what they wanted to a person who deserved their utmost devotion.
Real prayer begins when we long for God not out of a desire to get something from Him but just because we desperately want to know more of Him.
The Benefits of Ceaseless Prayer
In our previous post, I mentioned that praying without ceasing is the key to always being joyful. This is the real reason why scripture encourages us to never allow long gaps in between our prayers. Because prayer is the best stress reliever! And this world is FULL of stress! When we pray, we rid ourselves of the anxiousness of this life by casting our burdens on the One big enough to bear them. Doing this allows us to stay joyful, rejoicing continually in God’s promises!
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. [Philippians 4:6]
When you pray without ceasing, you fulfil Psalm 91:1 – You “dwell in the Secret place of the Most-High” and “abide under the shadow of the Almighty”. You’re never away from God’s presence and “in the presence of God, there is fullness of joy.”
You would rejoice more if you prayed more.
A truly prayerful life is a life of constant joy. True joy is more than a feeling, it is a state of mind. You can feel pain and yet be joyful. Like a woman in childbirth, who rejoices at the sight of her child despite the pain she might be in.
You can pray in the midst of a multitude just as well as you can pray all alone. Simply connect, for God is always listening. All it takes to begin a life of ceaseless prayer is the simple statement: in Jesus name. Never stop praying and watch your intimacy and relationship with God grow and transform in ways far beyond your imagination!
Finally, here’s some digital art to remind you of this month’s lesson, you can set them as your wallpaper to remind yourself of the need to pray without ceasing!