“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 shares three characteristics we are told that God desires of those who follow Christ…of Christians.
Today we take a look at the second one. Verse 17 says, “pray without ceasing”; “pray at all times”; “never stop praying”.
What a challenge!
Now Paul was a man who had been through some stuff.
In 2 Corinthians 11:25-28, he describes the list of terrible times he’d been through, “Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked. And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches.” 2 Corinthians 11:25-28 NRSV
Couldn’t you totally understand him saying,”Na, don’t bother with the prayer thing”?
Instead he says the opposite.
Never stop praying!
Prayer has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.
From listening to my parents pray during family worship to reciting The Lord’s Prayer at school.
Eventually, I engaged in prayer personally, and I remember receiving many positive answers to my requests.
But I can’t say truthfully that I’ve always felt a connection to God through prayer.
Sometimes it just felt like the thing I was supposed to do.
One day however, that changed.
I listened to this inspired woman of God talking about prayer. And she encouraged listeners to talk to God as you would a friend; someone you could talk to at any time.
It was like a lightbulb had been switched on.
Don’t get me wrong.
God is the sovereign Creator of the universe, and He deserves all honour and glory.
But sometimes I think that our keeping God on a pedastal prevents us from getting close to Him. And that is what He wants the most!
Psalm 51 and Isaiah 1 both tell us that God doesn’t want our rote and routine service which is empty and devoid of a true connection with Him.
James 4:8, tells us, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you…”
God desires a relationship with each one of us, and one of the ways we can develop that relationship is through prayer.
In the same way you’d tell a friend what’s going on in your life, God longs to hear what’s going on with you.
My prayer life isn’t perfect. It is still a work in progress. But I can tell you that whenever I pray, I don’t feel like I am only paying homage to a distant, disconnected deity.
I am confident that the extraordinary God of this world is interested in my ordinary life.
I matter to Him!
So try today; talk to Him.
Prayer need not be formal (though there’s a time and place for that).
There is also no need to use big, fancy words.
Just thank God for what He has done, is doing and will continue to do for you.
Then pour out your heart; share your dreams, your sorrows, your fears and your triumphs.
You may think doesn’t God know all this already? But sharing is more for us than for Him.
Finally, you can speak to Him everywhere and anywhere – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year wireless access!
Plus, He never gets tired of hearing from you.
So try it today…pray!
And don’t stop!