What Does Praying Without Ceasing Mean
What does it mean to pray without ceasing?
The Apostle Paul counseled the church at Thessalonica to pray without ceasing .
Ive met very few Christians who are completely satisfied with their prayer lives. We all know we need to pray. We all know we need to pray without ceasing, but what does that look like?
What does it mean always to pray or to pray without ceasing?
First, praying without ceasing has to do more with attitude then number of hours spent in prayer.
Neither Jesus nor Paul nor any of the early disciples and apostles prayed constantly. We dont find any example of that in Scripture. In fact, Jesus warned us about repeating prayers as if our many words would demand the action of God .
What we do find is a picture of believers who knew that Jesus was right there with them and that they could call upon Him at any moment. They had the experience of being in constant communion with God the Holy Spirit in their lives.
To pray without ceasing, we need to have the understanding and belief that God is right here with me and He is with me at all times.
Second, to pray without ceasing means that our lives are constantly turned toward God the Father. We recognize that everything in life involves Him, that we cant do life apart from Him.
Third, to pray without ceasing means that we put everything in Gods hands. Paul told us to be anxious about nothing but to be prayerful about everything . Therefore, we must seek Him and seek to pray about everything in life.
Tell Him What He Already Knows
When my first child was in kindergarten, I realized that although I had a pretty good idea what she did at school, I didnt need to know the details. But when she told me about how she and Jacob played at recess, or laughed as she tried to tell me the story her teacher read that day, it deepened my connection with my daughter. I got to see her life through her eyes and I reveled in her unique perspective. Of course, God already knows whats in our heartsbut when we offer our thoughts to him, it turns what might be a solitary life into a richer, more meaningful relationship. And I think God delights in this.
Jesus Christs Example Of Prayer
Jesus also taught and demonstrated persistence in prayer.
Jesus let His disciples know about His close relationship with His Father as an example and a lesson. As He came to His friend Lazarus grave, He prayed, Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me . God backed this up by raising Lazarus from the dead!
Jesus prayers on the day He was crucified also demonstrate His open line of communication with the Father.
After the meaningful Passover service, Jesus went to pray in a garden on the Mount of Olives. He withdrew a stones throw and knelt down. Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done .
He prayed so earnestly, His sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground .
Finding Peter, James and John sleeping, He said, What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak . He then prayed again twice more.
Even hanging on the stake, He continued His passionate prayers.
- Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do .
- Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? .
- Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit .
Read more about the meaning of these and His other sayings in the article Seven Last Sayings of Jesus.
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Wired For Silence: Learning To Listen To God
“I’m an electrician,” said a friend of mine recently at a Discovering Prayer mini retreat. “I used to be too cool to be cool, and yet now I’m blown away because God met with me in the silence.”
My friend had made a couple of hours free to be in a workshop and spend a bit of concentrated time with God. He reported afterwards being transformed by God in terms of his sense of purpose for his life.
I’m increasingly conscious of our hunger to have some space in our lives, whilst at the same time trying to cram in more activity. It’s a strange paradox that silence is something we fear and yet crave at the same time.
Why Is It Important To Pray Without Ceasing
In every relationship, communication should be the only constant for it to work. Be it friendly relationships, family relationships, or even romantic relationships. Lets say, for instance, you spend just three minutes every day talking to your significant other. Do you think youll be able to get to know that person more? Do you think youll be able to know them deeper when you spend a little time talking to them? Thats a big no.;
Then, what makes us think that this situation will also work with God? Dont you think He deserves more than just a few minutes of our day? Our relationship with God doesnt deepen overnight. It needs a lot of discipline and commitment.;
To pray to God is one thing, but to pray without ceasing is another. It is important to pray without ceasing because it convicts you and allows you to flee from temptations. It gives you peace beyond understanding. It gives you joy. But more than all of these, praying without ceasing changes your heart. It transforms you from the inside out, making you more and more like Jesus.;
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Life In The Absolutes
And then comes the phrase that Zach was asking about, and it makes a little more sense now: Pray without ceasing . If that life sounds hard to you pray without ceasing then he gives a specific example of the kind of prayer in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. It is not just, Help, Lord, which, of course, we would pray all the time. I need help to live this way. But he goes on and says, Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you .
Pauls burden is not just for private piety when he teaches about prayer.
Lets keep in mind two things about that context. One is the everys and the alls: Do good always to everyone. Rejoice always. Pray always . Give thanks always . The other contextual observation is that there seems to be a deepening to the question How? How to live?
Answer: Do good always to everyone, even when they dont do good to you. How? Rejoice always. Find your joy in something other than the way you are treated. How? Pray without ceasing. How? Be in a continual disposition of thankfulness to God.
The Discipline Of Prayer
A ceaseless or regular prayer routine can feel robotic, like a doctrine, a principle, a system, according to Bonhoeffer. On the contrary: it should be full of life. People say that they want to pray spontaneously. They want to be always in a spirit of prayer. They dont need set times of prayer. That is legalistic. But some discipline in regular times of prayer during the day keeps this kind of without ceasing prayer alive.
Daniel was referenced for the value of spontaneous prayer, but he was also a disciplined, three-times-a-day prayer: praying and giving thanks regularly. Daniel lived a life that combined discipline with spontaneous encounters with God, and I think that is the way it should be with us. He gave his complete attention to God, allowing time to hear from the Lord.;
As with any relationship that matters, one must set regular time aside to talk and to listen. God is always ready and waiting for His people to talk to Him, but He also answers prayer. If we want a heart to pray like Daniel, Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart . That is, He will implant a desire to pray.
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We Give Up The Belief That We Control Our Lives And Pray For His Will To Be Done
Im a self-reliant type: a problem solver whose natural inclination is to fix her own circumstances. Although Im fully aware of Proverbs 3:5-6 and its urging to trust in the Lord, I habitually gravitate to my own understanding: deeming it better to lean and depend on finite knowledge and limited wisdom. Its my futile attempt at maintaining a semblance of control.
Life, however, is a very good reminder that I control nothing. Although I create endless to do list, record dates in my Google calendar, and spend large amounts of time tossing around solutions in my head, I am no match for the curve balls of life. I think this is by design.
God wants us to recognize our limitation and come humbly to him to satisfy our needs. As his children, God longs for us to make our requests known to him . When we do this, we honor Gods power and glory by letting him reign over our lives, accomplishing his purposes for us.
The Persistent Widow Teaches We Always Ought To Pray
One of Jesus most memorable teachings is His parable of the persistent widow.
Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, Get justice for me from my adversary. And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
Then the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth? .
If even such an unjust judge would respond to the widow because of her persistence, how much more will our just and caring God respond to us!
God is not unjust. But sometimes He does not answer immediately, and that can teach us longsuffering, persistence and faith. We must grow in faith that God does have our best interests in mind, even when we dont understand why He doesnt answer right away.
For more on how to have the kind of prayer God wants, as well as the faith He wants us to develop, see Prayer From the Heart and How to Grow in Faith.
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Reasons To Pray Without Ceasing
Some of the reasons you should pray without ceasing:
Every person has times when he does not want to pray. It might be because of sickness, weariness, or depression. It could be that the mind or spirit is too dull to pray. That is the exact time when one should pray without ceasing. It is extremely important to pray whenever you feel yourself drawing away from God. Prayer is the way to reverse your direction to be close to the Lord again.
Praying without ceasing doesnt mean to pray nonstop. It doesn’t mean to pray around the clock. It actually means the activity is constantly recurring. In other words, your life should be one of continual prayers.
Praying without ceasing is as easy as breathing when you make prayer part of your lifestyle. That way itpleases God and satisfies Paul’s advice. Therefore, you can pray while you work, while taking a shower, while waiting at a stoplight, and while doing everything else in the course of a day.
You do not have to kneel, prostrate yourself on the floor, look toward heaven, or close your eyes to pray. Audible praying is just one way to pray. Let prayer be part of your lifestyle. That’s why I can teach, preach, and write and pray while performing those activities.
What Coughing Teaches Us About Prayer
Does coughing explain how to pray without ceasing?
My children were the first to get it. A couple of weeks later, I started to feel stuffed up. Then came the sore throat and finally the cough.
It wasnt like I coughed all the time, but I had regular coughing episodes three or four times an hour. And through this miserable time, I learned a lesson on prayer.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, the Apostle Paul exhorts us to pray without ceasing. This verse is a bit puzzling, because if you prayed without ceasing as the New American Standard reads it would be near impossible to do anything else, like work, talk, eat or sleep.
At first glance, the Greek word adialeiptos; suggests we are to pray all the time. Thayer interprets it as unceasing and continual.
But how did the people of Pauls day interpret the word. Their usage would certainly suggest its intended meaning.
The ancient Jewish-historian Josephus used the word to describe the Romans continuous attacks against Jotaphatha .; Did this mean the Romans were attacking all the time? No, because if they were it would be one constant battle. Obviously, they came back and again and again and between the attacks there were moments of respite.
And Paul uses the word in much the same way in Romans 1:9, where he says For God is my witness to how unceasingly I make mention of you .
Rather pray: Jesus save my parents or Jesus provide my kids with Godly spouses.
So dont suppress those urges to pray.
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Pray Like How Jesus Did
While Jesus spent His days here on Earth, He prayed to His heavenly father in unbroken communion. Meaning, He modeled a lifestyle of prayer. How? Well, it says in Luke 5:16 and Matthew 14:23 that Jesus often went by Himself to places where He could be alone to pray. He needs His Father just as much as we need One. So if Jesus, being the Son, prayed here on Earth, how much more should we be that kind of life as well?;
Incorporate Prayer Into Everyday Chores
Let your everyday tasks become acts of worship by turning them into times of prayer. As you fold laundry, pray for each family memberand then if your laundry piles are as high as mine, and youre done praying but not done folding, branch out from there. Pray for your childs soccer teammates, for the teachers standing in front of your childrens classrooms, for the partner who works hard to pay the bills, for health to stay active, for the workplaces where the clothes are worn. Or simply give thanks for the warmth of the home where you relax in those pajamas.
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When We Pray Without Ceasing We Look First To God For Clarity Not Ourselves Or Others
As we consistently look to God in all things, our perspective begins to change. The question is no longer how am I going to solve my problems but rather how is God going to display is might in my circumstance?
Adopting this perspective means we must purpose to make prayer our number one go to in times of difficulty: trumping friends, spouses, books, our limited ability, and popular opinion.;
The next time you’re facing a challenging circumstance, be mindful of whether or not your first inclination is to go to God in prayer, or whether you’re more often tempted to dwell on the problem or first talk it through with friends or family.
Pray As If He Is Your Friend
Are you so close to your friends that you tell them the most random things? You should also do the same with God. He likes that. He isnt annoyed when you talk to Him randomly. In fact, He is just waiting for you to speak to Him in the simplest way possible. Whether you are in the shower, in the car, at work, or even while youre out running errands, he doesnt mind you talking to Him whatever hour of the day or every minute of the day.;
Also, praying as if God is your friend means that He doesnt want to hear the perfect words, or He wants you to say the perfect prayer. Often, we are too afraid to come to Him because we feel like we dont know how to pray. Its as if He wont listen if we do not say the right things. But in reality, He isnt impressed with great prayers. He wants your heart. Speak to Him like how you speak to your friend. After all, He is not just our God. Hes our friend too.;
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Bible Verses About Pray Without Ceasing
Bible verses related to Pray Without Ceasing from the King James Version by Relevance
1 Thessalonians 5:17 – Pray without ceasing.Philippians 4:6 – Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.Matthew 6:6 – But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.Ephesians 6:18 – Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;Matthew 21:22 – And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.Colossians 4:2 – Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;Romans 8:26 – Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.Matthew 6:9-13 – After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.;Jeremiah 33:3 – Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.Matthew 7:7 – Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
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