1 Thessalonians 5:17. Do we “pray without ceasing”?
I’m sure we all know we need to pray. If we’re not praying every day, it’s a habit we need to form. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13), but if we’re not seeking Him first thing daily and seeking the Kingdom of God daily (Matthew 6:33), then we are walking in our own strength, instead of being “strong in the Lord and the power of HIS might” (Ephesians 6:10). (Woe be to the person who thinks he/she can fight their spiritual battles without YHVH with us, around us, over us and in us.)
But as we’ll see, Scripture also says in many places that we are to “pray always” or to pray “without ceasing”. How can we possibly do that? What does that mean? Understanding the answers will make all the difference in the level of our relationship with dear Abba, our heavenly Father.
It does not mean that we must literally have our head bowed, eyes closed, while praying non-stop 24 hours a day! We all would have been fired from our jobs long ago if we lived like that. It means we go through each day with an active awareness of the presence of the Almighty. It means we take time to connect with Him dozens of times a day in quick short prayers. I’ll explain far deeper as we go along in this blog.
We surely should connect with our Father first and last thing each day – especially in a formal prayer time on our knees. David and Daniel prayed three times a day in these formal type prayers (Psalm 55:17; Daniel 6:10, 13). In these prayers we praise Him, thank Him, ask for His forgiveness for where we fell short, we intercede for others, and we ask for the help we need as well. But we always praise and thank. (There are several sermons and teachings on this website about prayer.) These times of prayer on our knees, I think of as “formal prayer times” and I think they are necessary. It is good for US to be on our knees before our Maker. It is good for US to confess our sins, to ask forgiveness, and then to praise and to intercede. That’s formal prayer time primarily. I recommend you be sure you are giving God this honor. Don’t fall for the teaching that its OK to JUST have quickie prayers while we shave or do dishes or drive to work on the freeway. I teach we should have definite formal prayer times on our knees (if our knees and bodies allow for that) first as the foundation. THEN, to those times, we add the concept of “praying without ceasing”.
First let’s see some of the places we’re told to pray “always”:
• After discussing the “armor of God” in Ephesians 6, Paul concludes the section in verse 18 by saying, “praying ALWAYS, with all prayer and supplication in the SPIRIT…”. So we are to pray “in the Spirit”. Praying is part of our spiritual armor. It’s what makes it functional!
• To the Thessalonians Paul admonishes, “PRAY WITHOUT CEASING” (1 Thess. 5:17). He goes on to say “in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.” Here Paul stresses the connection of effective prayer with thanksgiving and the peace that comes from realizing we are in His hands. Is there a connection with lack of prayer and quenching the Spirit? Paul seems to imply so.
Read the rest of this blog for HOW we are to pray always and more on WHY we should.
First let’s continue to see some of the many passages that urge us to “pray always”.
• In the parable of the Persistent widow, the context was a parable showing “that men ought ALWAYS to pray and not to lose heart.” (Luke 18:1-2).
• Yeshua also orders us to “watch therefore and PRAY ALWAYS that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36). Here, “watch” refers far more to our spiritual alertness than it means to watch world news or something. We are to watch our own spiritual state, be on guard, to stay awake and alert – and that’s tied in to praying always. Prayer is about keeping the communication with God alive.
• We’re told that Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, was a devout man who “prayed to God ALWAYS” (Acts 10:2). As a centurion, he had many responsibilities, so how could he possibly really pray to God always?
So HOW do we “pray always”?
I believe it means going through the day with a keen awareness of the presence of Yehowah in your life. That will be easier to do if we started the day on a foundation of prayer, before we eat, before we go to work. It’s easier to do if you’ve consciously asked Him to help you “turn your heart” back to Him. After that, you’ll be getting nudged by His Spirit many times a day. You’re ‘hearing His voice” in many different ways, conversations and circumstances. So to me it means that all through the day we’re connecting with Father in dozens of quick short prayers. It’s like touching base with our Maker all through the day. If you’re not doing that already, you’ll be amazed how your life changes once you make a practice of calling on Father and Yeshua all through the day and into the night. He’s a FATHER! He LIKES hearing from His kids.
A few days ago something was heavy on my mind around 4 a.m. I wasn’t sleeping. So I just decided to get up, get on my knees, and I spent the next 10-15 minutes praising my Father for all the good He does in our lives and asking Him to put my restless mind at peace. I wanted to experience the joy of His grace, to share my heart with Him – and what a wonderful time we had together! It made me think of the many psalms where David says He praised in the wee morning hours. It was wonderful. That’s one of the ways we can “pray always”. Just touch base with our Father many times a day and night. Share your concerns and thoughts. Share your joys. Share what’s happening. Fathers like to have sons and daughters who share what’s going on in their lives. I know, I’m a father and grandfather. If my kids aren’t sharing their lives with me, I feel cut off from them. I’m joyful when they do share something. Just the other day my son shared something with me that made my heart sing all the rest of the day. It wasn’t a big thing, but it was a big deal in how it impacted me. God our Father is the same way. Share your life with Him, all through the day.
We are the temple of the Holy Spirit! In the “old days”, one man – the High Priest – could go into the Holy of Holies once a year for a few minutes – and that was it. Today we HOUSE the Holy of Holies within each of us, we are IN HIM, and He is IN US, and so we can come boldly before His throne of Grace. The Shekinah glory of God should be evident more and more in our lives. That’s especially true when we come into the Holy of Holies –every time we pray -- in Yeshua’s name. Hallelujah! We have the unprecedented opportunity to come before His presence any time we want, and frankly we should be capitalizing on that opportunity.
So think of “praying always” as a way to be walking and talking with God all day long. Always. Be saying silent prayers before and during important meetings. Lift up a brother or sister in Christ to heavenly realms in prayers several times a day, every day. Look up and just quietly ask Father to smooth out your paths for you, if things aren’t going well. Maybe you should have touched base many times before that point already! When feeling anxious, I like to look up and say something like, “there I go again. I don’t want it to be me – but to be YOU. I have no reason to worry or fret since you are with me. I have every reason to claim the victory, to shout the joyful triumphs, even long before I see the final outcome, knowing I walk with the King of the Universe!!!”
Our spirit should be in lock step with Yah’s spirit. It should be like the cloud over the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings – when the Cloud moved, they moved. When it stood still, they stood still. We should be so responsive to God’s spirit moving in us that we are in lock step with HIS will, HIS desire, and HIS purpose. It’s when we let the “noise” of society, too much TV-facebook-smart phone-emails-texting-twitter-games, too many concerns and worries and things that busy us – that Father’s voice starts to diminish. If we are “in Him”, we will grow in the ability to harmonize His will into our lives, to subjugate our own desires and seek His pleasure in everything we do.
This harmony comes about largely by constantly connecting and checking in throughout the day. And that is also WHY we “pray without ceasing” – to get in harmony with God our Father. To hear His voice. To let Him hear ours. And to walk together in the Spirit.
Try praying always. Again – that means walking in the spirit all the day long. That means touching base with Father and Yeshua many, many times during the day in quick 30 second-2 minute prayers. He’s ALWAYS on your mind. And you know YOU are always on HIS mind. Turn your heart to Father. Yes, pray always by keeping a keen awareness of Yehowah’s presence at all times – and saying something to Father all through the day. Remember to LISTEN as well. Prayer is a conversation, not a monologue.
In America, Father’s Day is this Sunday. Be sure we honor the greatest Father of all – our Yehowah Most High. As you ask the blessing over meals and activities on Father’s Day, remember to praise our heavenly Father too.
And practice and grow in your ability to “pray always”.
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