1 Thessalonians 5:17 instructs us to “pray without ceasing”. How is this possible? Can it even be done? YES!
Now first, a confession: “Do I, personally, pray without ceasing?” Not always. “Well then, by definition, aren’t I ceasing to pray if I’m not always praying?” Technically, yes, but just because the goal is lofty doesn’t mean we still shouldn’t aim for it! Let’s dive into this together, shall we – with open minds and lots of grace.
Jesus Himself instructed us not to “babble on like the pagans, who think they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7). Eloquence is not the goal. Quantity of words is not the goal. I would even suggest that quantity of time is not the goal.
Pray without ceasing is not about logging hours on some cosmic time sheet, hoping we can eventually reach that perfect score of “24/7”. Pray without ceasing is about a mindset – a heartset – towards continual communication with God.
Another translation of 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says “Pray continuously”. I think this hits closer to the goal. Not that we would have a single, unbroken stream of prayers flowing from awakening to sleeping. I think the goal of pray without ceasing is to always have a constant, continual, unbroken line of communication open and active between your heart and God’s.
Imagine calling a close friend on the phone and talking for awhile. After a few minutes of chit-chat and hearing about each other’s day, you begin to talk about the deeper things: a dilemma at work… an argument with your sister… the weight of financial debt… an aging grandparent…
Now imagine you reach the “end” of your conversation – but you both decide together that neither of you is going to hang up the phone. Hours of silence may pass, but with the receiver up to both of your ears, a single word from either of you would reignite the conversation!
Communication is so much more than just talking, anyway. “Pray without ceasing” is so much more than just “never stop praying”. I think it means “never hang up the phone” with God. Stay connected, so that not a single word is missed.
In my next post, I’ll list several practical strategies for praying continuously, all throughout your day.
In the past, when you have read 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “pray without ceasing”, what has been your first reaction? What affect has that instruction from God’s Word had on you?