Pray Without Ceasing
Four little letters. One simple word. And yet prayer changes everything.
The power of prayer is not found in the one who utters the prayers, but it is found in the God who hears them.
We read about this Holy God who created the world and sustains our every breath. This is the God who knows the number of stars in the sky, the sum of sand on the shore, and every single thought that comes to your mind before a single word is on your tongue.
This powerful, infinite, Almighty, loving God has heaven and earth at His fingertips, and yet through prayer He invites us to personal, intimate, constant relationship with Him.
He initiates a pursuit of our hearts through the Holy Spirit that allows us to know Him individually. By prayer, we offer our thoughts, our fears, our praise to God. Through prayer we seek His face, we listen for His answers, and we know Him more intimately.
Prayer is a discipline. It is a spiritual rhythm. It takes time and thought. But it is a beautiful gift, freely given to all who call on Christ.
Friends, I want to be upfront here and say that prayer alone is not the goal, prayer alone does not save, and prayer itself is not to be worshipped or idolized.
Prayer is simply the means by which we communicate with our Heavenly Father, the One True God who saves and redeems and sustains. He alone is worthy of our worship and praise.
Prayer is important, and it is the practice by which we grow in grace and endure this life apart from God. But we want to rightly value prayer as it belongs in the life of the believer. It is the practice of maintaining our relationship with God as we are commanded throughout Scripture to pray to our Father in Heaven. It’s not optional - it’s commanded, and it’s modeled by Christ.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray without ceasing.
- Philippians 4:6 tells us not to be anxious about anything, but in everything with prayer and petition and thanksgiving to present our requests to God.
- Ephesians 6:18 calls us to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
- James 5:13 tells us to pray when we are in trouble.
- Jesus teaches us to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44).
- Jesus tells us to pray in secret (Matthew 6:6).
- Jesus calls us to prayerfully give our requests to God in faith (Mark 11:24).
- Jesus modeled prayer for us in Luke 11 when He taught the Lord’s prayer.
- Jesus also lived by example. He would draw away to pray to God during His time here on earth throughout the night and early in the morning (Luke 3:21, 5:16, 6:12, 8:18, 18:1-8).
- Prayer to God is also accompanied with the promise that God will hear us! Proverbs 15:29 tells us that He hears the prayers of the righteous.
- James 1:6-7 teaches us to pray in faith so that we will receive.
- James 4:3 also calls us to examine our motives - and that praying for specific things should be done so that God may be glorified - not to advance our own desires!
- We pray to confess (1 John 1:9), to give thanks (1 Timothy 2:1-2), to ask God for help in our time of need (James 1:7) and to be near to God (Psalm 145:18).
- When we do not know what to pray, the Spirit intercedes for us! He uses groans that we cannot even understand, but God hears on our behalf (Romans 8:26).
- Verses like Job 22:27, Jeremiah 29:12 and Psalm 17:6 let us know that He will hear us when we pray!
So what keeps us from praying?
If prayer is communicating with God - speaking to Him on any and all occasions - walking in step with Him throughout the day because we get to stay connected - why on earth would we ever stop praying?
There are a million little things that we use as excuses, but I really think it boils down to one main thing: we get caught up seeking after pursuits other than Jesus.
When we take our eyes off of Jesus, we stop communicating with Him. We stop depending on Him. We stop coming to Him to share our hearts, voice our concerns, and thank Him with our praises because we're so easily distracted.
Friends, I'm so guilty of this! It's easy to pray when we have a lot of time, or when we're really desperate from something. But when life gets busy, when excitement distracts us, or when we just fall out of healthy rhythms - prayer seems so difficult. If you're there right now, I hope and pray that these words are not ones of condemnation, but rather of invitation. Because I'm preaching to my own heart today, friends!
Whether you've never prayed before, you pray all the time, or you only pray whenever you need something - the invitation is the same. Come and pray. Speak with the Lord. Tell Him what's on your heart and be willing to listen in response. Speak truthfully and honestly. Be sincere and be open. And whatever you do, don't stop praying!