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::Devotional:: ‘How To Pray Without Ceasing – Part 1’

December 11, 2009

A friend of mine asked the question this week, “How is it possible to pray without ceasing?”  Reading in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Paul gives the command but it does seems confusing to think about being on our knees, hands folded and eyes shut all the time.  How would we get anything else done?  It is a fair question and a good one to lead us in to the importance of prayer in our lives.  So how do we pray without ceasing?

In the book of 1 Thessalonians, Paul refers to ceaseless prayer at least three times and in none of the cases does the context suggest he is referring to a specific posture and length of prayer.  In other words, nothing he said should lead us to believe that he is suggesting we are to be on our knees, hands folded and eyes shut for hour after hour.  However, the context does suggest that prayer and thanksgiving were a constant component in his life. They were part of his personality and his attitude towards life.  You could even say they were part of his worldview.  

A study tool I often use from www.biblestudytools.com , Robertson’s word pictures, gives this as an explanation:

It is God’s will that we find joy in prayer in Christ Jesus in every condition of life.

Over the next few posts, as we look into answering this question, we’re going to look at a man named Nehemiah.  Nehemiah was an Israelite in exile under King Artaxerxes of the Persian empire who had a heart for his people and his homeland of Jerusalem.  Unfortunately, he was distanced from both as he served as the king’s official cupbearer.  One day, as Nehemiah was going about his normal duties a few Israelites came in from Judah and he asked them about the people and his homeland.  They did not have good news.

They said to me, ‘Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace.  The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.’  Nehemiah 1:3

Pray With An Open Heart

Nehemiah was upset by the news and immediately he took to prayer.  What did he pray about?  He prayed about how he was feeling in his heart and how he needed God’s help to try to do something about the walls in Jerusalem.

Then I said: “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.  “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’ “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand.  O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to the king.

Praying without ceasing has to start with a commitment to pray daily and to pray from our hearts.  We aren’t required to pray all day, but prayer should be part of our daily activities.  Our biggest excuse against prayer, and I know because I am guilty of using it, is time.  We don’t have time to pray.  However, when a bad news phone call comes in the middle of the night or the doctor walks in with a life changing medical report – suddenly our priorities change and we are diligent about praying.  While that is certainly understandable and appropriate, praying without ceasing is much more consistent than just those times when we need to dial spiritual 911.  Nehemiah understood the power and importance of prayer and used it often.  As we will see in the days ahead, not only did he pray when the bad news came but he also prayed in the midst of conversations – something I need to do more in my own life.

Have an attitude of prayer today.  A willingness to look to God as you encounter different things today, even if only to say “Thanks” or “Lord please help me”.

-Stay Rooted Col. 2:7-

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. regina bowman permalink
    December 11, 2009 10:01 am

    Thanks for posting this…I have just started a book on prayer…it is by David Jeremiah and it is really good so far…I can hardly put it down, but like David says in his book…reading about prayer and studying about prayer are good, but it doesn’t get the praying done for you…sometimes for me it’s easy to read about it and learn about it, but actually doing it is what I need to do!!! Pray for me to be more diligent in my prayer life…thanks again for your devotionals…so encouraging

  2. December 11, 2009 10:21 am

    Absolutely. One of the blessings of writing this blog is the conviction it brings me as I study. It’s a big source of accountability for me. Not just knowing, but doing as well. Also, I have found that a prayer journal seems to be my most focused and fruitful way to pray. I don’t know if it is the “right thing” to do or not, but it has been the thing that has worked for me and many times when I’ve tried to get away from it, I’ve fumbled the ball a little and my prayer life has suffered. David Jeremiah is good stuff! A friend has just finished a book on prayer by E.M. Bounds and raves about it. I might just have to pick that up over the Christmas break. Happy reading, happy praying!

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  1. ::Devotional:: ‘How To Pray Without Ceasing – Part 2′ « The Journey – Venturing in the abundant life of Christ

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