August 26, 2020
Dear Praying Friends,
Thank you for devoting this day with us to pray for revival and for our prodigals. Allow the promises of Scripture to encourage you. “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy” (Ps. 126:5). “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).
As we revisit the passage in First Thessalonians, there is a statement that we cannot avoid. The exhortation is simple, concise, convicting, and timeless, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:17). Three words in English and only two in the original Greek — “proseuchomai adialeiptōs.”
The word, “pray” in this verse is an inclusive word meaning to pray to God, to supplicate, to offer prayers for, and to worship. Prayer is one of the trademarks of Christianity. God’s people are people of prayer. It should be as natural and automatic as breathing itself. We have been wonderfully brought into relationship with the God of heaven through the person and work of His Son. The beauty of relationship is that it involves communication. Praying is just that, talking with our God and Father: looking to Him, seeking after Him, pouring out our needs to Him, drawing near to Him, lifting up those we know and love to Him, bowing in humble adoration of Him, and simply chatting with Him throughout our days. Prayer wonderfully encompasses it all.
This expression “without ceasing” is one word in the original and it’s found four times in our New Testament. Three of those four are right in First Thessalonians. It means uninterrupted, incessantly, without omission or intermission. When things start piling up in our lives, we often say, “Give me a break!” There should be no break in our prayer life. In fact, when things start piling up we should pray more earnestly! If you watch the NBA playoffs, you know there are four quarters of play, with breaks in between each--fifteen minutes at halftime, and two minutes between the other quarters. While there are needed breaks in sports, our prayer life is different. Prayer is our lifeline and we desperately need it. We are not in a game but in warfare with the powers of darkness. One person said, “Pray without ceasing because Satan is preying without ceasing.
So what is Paul saying? Does he intend for believers to stay home all day and never rise from their knees? Of course not, because then you wouldn’t be able to do the many other things God desires you to do. I like what David Guzik had to say, “Prayer is communication with God, and we can live each minute of the day in a constant, flowing, conversation with God.” To pray without ceasing is to bring God into every detail of your life. Peace Pilgrim says, “Praying without ceasing is not ritualized, nor are there even words. It is a constant state of awareness of oneness with God; it is a sincere seeking for a good thing; and it is a concentration on the thing sought, with faith that it is obtainable.” What we learn from this statement is that to pray without ceasing means to be in a state or attitude of prayer all the time. This is the real meaning of union with Christ or living in a condition of fellowship with Him.
While prayer should be natural and automatic for the child of God, it is a struggle. This is why the exhortation is given in the first place. We are mortal and often fail. We wander from our God. We are forgetful, and sometimes the business of life crowds in upon us, and we allow things to hinder us from praying as we should. I hope we will all take this little yet vital exhortation to heart, and live in full awareness of His presence.
The reward of this type of life is inestimable. It is not for the benefit of God, although He loves us and loves hearing from us, the real profit of prayer is for us. When we pray, there is joy in seeing God answer and work. When we pray, there is peace from knowing that God is near and understands. Our anxiety is replaced with true calmness of soul. When we pray, there is courage and strength to do the tasks assigned by God. When we pray, the independence and pride that comes so easily give way to dependence and reliance upon a strong, eternal God who is capable of fully looking after us in every situation. May God encourage you and me in this great privilege of prayer!
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel