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::Devotional:: ‘How To Pray Without Ceasing – Part 2’

December 14, 2009

Have you ever sat down to pray and been discouraged because of all you know to pray for and how long it would take doing it all together?  Let’s be honest, it’s probably crossed our minds at least once hasn’t it?  We are all pressed for time and when we sit down to have our quiet time, whenever that may be, and we begin to look at our prayer list or remember all that we have to pray for it can be quite overwhelming.  On top of all of that, how do we pray about all of these things “without ceasing?”

In ‘How To Pray Without Ceasing – Part 1’ we began to look at Nehemiah, a man of prayer and action, and saw that praying without ceasing involves praying with an open heart.  Honest communication with God about what we are thinking and feeling, because he already knows anyway.  Now, if we were to be honest here we would have to say that when we sit down to pray sometimes there’s only one thing on our mind.  I mean, we know that we have to pray for our families, our friends, our church, our leaders, those that we know who are sick, those we know who have lost loved ones, and the list goes on and on.  But sometimes it seems like in the midst of that moment, much of those things slip away and our focus is on one thing and one thing only.  That one thing is called a burden and it is something we carry with us that weighs heavy on our heart and mind.

Pray About Your Burden

Often we hear that we are to take our burdens to the Lord and leave them there and there is certainly truth to that statement.  However, that doesn’t mean those burdens go away.  The process of taking our burdens to the Lord is often daily and is often about the same burdens over and over.  In other words, it is not a one time thing where we can pray about a burden and then walk away from it never to think about it again.  In fact, some of us will even ask for a burden.  “Lord, give me a burden for lost souls.”  That is something we asking to be placed upon us, constantly, so that we can have a focus and a heart for those who do not know the Lord and will witness to them.  Let’s take a look again at Nehemiah.

You’ll remember from the previous devotion that Nehemiah, an Israelite who served as the cupbearer for King Artaxerxes of Persia, received some distressing news from a friends about his homeland and his people in Jersualem.  They were described as being in “great trouble and disgrace” because the walls of the city had never been rebuilt.  This news was heartbreaking to Nehemiah.

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept.  Nehemiah 1:4

A burden was placed upon Nehemiah’s heart that day that he would carry from then on.  What do you think that did to Nehemiah’s prayer life?  While I don’t want to get too far into speculation I believe it is very safe to say that at that point the consuming thought on Nehemiah’s mind was a concern for his people and for Jerusalem.

For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.  Nehemiah 1:4

When I first read through these verses I recognized that Nehemiah was pretty upset by the situation as is obvious from the verse here, however I didn’t realize the significance of the word “days” until I read some supplemental material from a resource in my study library called Halley’s Bible Handbook.

“He spent four months in prayer before he made his request to the king (1:1, 2:1)”

Four months is calculated from the month of Kislev (1:1) to the month of Nisan (2:1) in the Jewish calendar.

There is no doubt in my mind that the pressing prayer on Nehemiah’s heart was for his country and his countrymen.  A burden he carried daily and grieved over for four months before he ever made mention of the situation to the king and even then it was because the king asked him why he looked so distraught.  Daily he prayed and fasted over this burden, ceaselessly.

You may shy away from praying because of all that you feel you have to pray for, but if and when that moment comes can I encourage you to simply sit down and pray about the burden(s) on your heart?  This may sound cliché but I believe that the Lord is more interested in the quality (meaning the honesty) of our prayers rather than the quantity.  Remembering, praying without ceasing begins with praying from an open heart and when we expose our heart we expose what weighs heavy upon it.  That’s what the Lord wants to hear about.

-Stay Rooted Col. 2:7-

Resources:

  • If you are looking for a way to better organize or structure your prayer life, consider developing a Prayer Calendar.
  • Another option I’ve used in the past is simply a pack of spiral bound, perforated, ruled index cards which you can buy from any store with school/office supplies.  I write permanent and short-term prayer requests on them and then each time I sit down to pray, I flip to where I left off the time before and pray over a few prayer requests and then mark  my place to start for next time.  If a prayer is answered and there is no longer a need to pray, I tear out the card and mark ANSWERED across it and place it in a box for answered prayers.  The rest stay in the pack to be prayed over again.  It may not be for everyone and but give it a try and see for yourself.
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