1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV) 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Prayer is essential in the life of a believer and is evidence of our faith In God. It is vital in our ability to function in this world. . But exactly what does it mean to pray without ceasing? Does it mean we are to walk around with our head-bowed, and eyes closed all day? Does it mean that we’re supposed to devote ourselves to reciting ritualistic prayers or forms of prayer? Of course not. In fact Jesus made a comment about that.
Matthew 6:5-7 (HCSB) 5 “Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! 6 But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 When you pray, don’t babble like the idolaters, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words.
When Paul wrote this to the believers in Thessalonica he wasn’t talking about non-stop talking but an attitude, an awarness of God, and a surrendering to God which we carry all the time. He was talking about an awareness that God is with us and involved and engaged with us in our thoughts and actions.
There are of course specific times that we should set aside for prayer and at those times we may want to have certain postures like bowing our heads, or kneeling, or laying on our faces. But most of us can’t do that 24/7. While certain postures and specific times set aside for prayer have an important bearing on our communication with God, to "pray at all times" obviously does not mean we are to pray in formal or noticeable ways every waking moment.
Well What Does It Mean?
It means that we are to consciously turn all our thoughts into prayer, especially when those thoughts turn to worry, fear, discouragement, and anger. Every prayer should then be turned into thanksgiving. Here are some suggestions that Paul gives us in his letters to the Philippians, and Colossians.
Philippians 4:6 (HCSB) Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Colossians 4:2 (HCSB) Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.
He even told the believers in Ephesus to use prayer as a weapon. After he described the armor of God that each believer should put on everyday including the one offensive weapon the sword of the Spirit, he said;
Ephesians 6:18 (HCSB) Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.
When we go through our day in unceasing prayer we are showing our dependence on God. If we don’t have this attitude throughout the day we may start to depend on ourselves instead of depending on God's grace. When we live our lives and go through our day in constant communion with God then our minds are constantly on the things above.
Colossians 3:2-4 (HCSB) 2 Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. 4 When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
Here’s something that I read on gotQuestions.org;
For Christians, prayer should be like breathing. You do not have to think to breathe because the atmosphere exerts pressure on your lungs and essentially forces you to breathe. That is why it is more difficult to hold your breath than it is to breathe. Similarly, when we are born into the family of God, we enter into a spiritual atmosphere where God's presence and grace exert pressure, or influence, on our lives. Prayer is the normal response to that pressure. As believers, we have all entered the divine atmosphere to breathe the air of prayer.
The following is from a Charles Spurgeon sermon “Pray Without Ceasing” delivered on March 10th, 1872
Never give up praying, not even though Satan should suggest to you that it is in vain for you to cry unto God. Pray in his teeth; "pray without ceasing." If for awhile the heavens are as brass and your prayer only echoes in thunder above your head, pray on; if month after month your prayer appears to have miscarried, and no reply has been vouchsafed to you, yet still continue to draw nigh unto the Lord. Do not abandon the mercy-seat for any reason whatever. If it be a good thing that you have been asking for, and you are sure it is according to the divine will, if the vision tarry wait for it, pray, weep, entreat, wrestle, agonise till you get that which you are praying for. If your heart be cold in prayer, do not restrain prayer until your heart warms, but pray your soul unto heat by the help of the everblessed Spirit who helpeth our infirmities. If the iron be hot then hammer it, and if it be cold hammer it till you heat it. Never cease prayer for any sort of reason or argument. If the philosopher should tell you that every event is fixed, and, therefore, prayer cannot possibly change anything, and, consequently, must be folly; still, if you cannot answer him and are somewhat puzzled, go on with your supplications notwithstanding all. No difficult problem concerning digestion would prevent your eating, for the result justifies the practice, and so no quibble should make us cease prayer, for the assured success of it commends it to us. You know what your God has told you, and if you cannot reply to every difficulty which man can suggest, resolve to be obedient to the divine will, and still "Pray without ceasing." Never, never, never renounce the habit of prayer, or your confidence in its power.
10 Ways To Pray Without Ceasing?
Here are 10 ways you can do that from beliefnet.com. These are just suggestions. You can modify them or come up with others. The important thing is to start praying without ceasing. I can personally tell you that when you start working on it, praying without ceasing is really like breathing, you do it naturally. If it comes naturally then when those bumps in the road come you don’t even think about it your thoughts automatically go to God seeking His grace, His mercy, and His guidance and there is constant thanksgiving. You don’t have to think about its automatic.
Pray without ceasing and giving thanks. Remember it’s God’s will for you. If you’re not doing it start today.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.