HOW DOES ONE PRAY WITHOUT CEASING?
Prayer for a follower of Jesus is far more than a spiritual exercise – although it is that! Prayer for the follower of Jesus is all about lifestyle and a state of open communion with God. After the Apostle Paul encouraged believers to put on the full armor of God, he added “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Eph. 6:18)
In I Thessalonians 5:16-18 he exhorts us, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Did you notice the consuming nature of the relationship Paul was encouraging? But in real practical terms – how is this possible?
John Calvin wrote, “Since our weakness is such that it has to be supported by many aids, and our sluggishness such that it needs to be goaded, it is fitting each one of us should set certain hours for this exercise.” For Calvin, to “pray without ceasing” meant setting five designated times during the day to pray a brief prayer. When he awoke in the morning; (This was his main time in the Word to set a tone for the day.) before he began work; at his noon meal; after the day’s work; and when he was getting ready for bed at night. And maybe that’s not a bad idea, to formulate brief written prayers (which Calvin did) to more thoughtfully express ourselves to God throughout the day, to help keep our attention focused on Him.
For me, I have tried to embrace prayer as largely a lifestyle. Much of what I learned about this I learned from the lifestyle of Jesus and from the writings of spiritual giants of the past who, through much trial and testing, figured out a way to keep themselves in a state of God-consciousness. Brother Lawrence in his book, The Practice of the Presence of God shared how he had become so comfortable with this means of communion with God that for him there was no discernable difference between his times of worship in the chapel and his times at work with his hands in the sink washing dishes at the monastery. God was equally present and real to him in both places.
He wrote: “Whatever we do …we should stop for a few minutes – as often as possible – to praise God from the depths of our hearts, to enjoy Him there in secret. Since we believe that God is always with us, no matter what we may be doing, why shouldn’t we stop for a while to adore Him, to praise Him, to petition Him, to offer Him our hearts, and to thank Him? What could please God more than for us to leave the cares of the world temporarily in order to worship him in our spirits?”
I want to challenge you to stop trying to segregate the secular and the sacred. For us, loving and serving Jesus is a 24/7, round the clock, 365 days a year matter. Viewing life through those lenses every moment presents an opportunity to be in touch with our Lord and to reflect on His Word. Every moment holds the opportunity to ask him for his help, forgiveness, direction, and blessing. Every moment presents an occasion to praise him for the wonderful gift of His Son Jesus and the hope we possess of an eternity with Him. Every moment is a moment to bask in His presence and cultivate friendship with Him.
By praying in this way without ceasing – faith remains fresh and more active; hope is strengthened; the beauty of God is realized; our unruly human will is tamed; and Jesus becomes a living reality.
Be blessed my friend.
The Barnabas Group (Loads of Love)
Psalm 139:1-10; Phil. 4:6; Romans 8:26-27; 12:1-2; James 2:23