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Paul’s first letter to the Church at Thessalonica is filled with many relevant truths that are ripe for application to our lives today. And in the very last chapter of this great letter, he succinctly lists a series of instructions that are simple and yet powerful. Here is the list:
14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.
15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray without ceasing,
18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
19 Do not quench the Spirit.
20 Do not despise prophecies.
21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
22 Abstain from every form of evil.
There are certainly many vital points included in this short passage, but I would like to draw out one important statement and then unpack that phrase just a bit.
In verse 17, Paul says that we are to pray without ceasing. Those are just three simple words, and yet they carry a life-changing message—if we actually apply them.
What does it mean to “pray without ceasing,” then? Well, it does not mean that we spend the entire day on our knees praying without engaging in any other activity. If we did that, we would not be able to keep a job or pay our bills.
The directive to “pray without ceasing” means that we are ever present with God throughout the entire day. We are continually interacting with Him in prayer as we move from task to task. When we face a challenge, we ask for His assistance. As we experience a blessing, we thank Him for His favor.
It’s sort of like being on the phone, and we never hang up. We acknowledge His presence throughout every single day.
But we’re busy, right? And it’s easy to get distracted. So, we often forget to include Him in our day, and we often fail to pray without ceasing.
In light of this, let me offer several simple things you can do that will help you to pray without ceasing in your own life.
By “walk with God,” I mean that you should consider going on regular walks each week in which you pray while you are walking. Some people go for “prayer walks” around their neighborhood for the purpose of praying for their neighbors. I personally like to walk on the treadmill regularly, and I often spend that time praying while I’m walking. It’s a great way to go deeper with God while you’re getting a bit of exercise.
And if you are into fitness, you may even consider praying while you are running or working out. Focusing on your spiritual state while you are working on your physical growth is a beautiful blending of those two aspects of your wholeness. Some people listen to music while they work out. What if you used that time to listen to worship music and turned it into a worship/prayer encounter? This can be a great opportunity to grow spiritually as you develop physically.
Most of us spend several hours driving each week. We drive to work. We drive to the store. We drive to various events and on various tasks. Wouldn’t it be great if we turned those solo drive times into a prayer event? It’s a pretty simple decision to make, and you can commit those drive times to prayer any time you want.
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In order to help you remember to use this time for prayer, you may want to put a sticky note on your dashboard for a while that says, “Drive Time = Prayer Time,” or something like that. This will help you develop a new habit of praying while driving. And I think you’ll be amazed at how much less stress you experience when you get into heavy traffic. When you’re communing with God, that time will become precious for you.
How much time did you spend waiting this past week? We all end up waiting every week on one thing or anther, but we don’t always have a plan in place to use that time for something important. I would encourage you to be proactive and set up a plan to be able to pray whenever you find yourself having to wait.
One thing I do is to keep prayer requests on the Evernote app on my smartphone. This app allows me to record prayer requests throughout the week, and then I can pull those out and spend time praying during times of waiting that hit me each week.
We wait on traffic, doctors, clients, bosses, family members, etc. every week. So, why not plan ahead so that you can spend that time with God? You’ll find yourself no longer dreading those times of waiting!
One of the most powerful experiences I’ve adopted in my Christian journey is to take time to get away to places of solitude where I can spend a few hours at a time in prayer with the Creator. Sometimes I’ll go to a community park, state park, or a national park. And I always have to schedule these get-aways. I block out time on my schedule and make sure there’s nothing that can interfere with this time with God.
In an age of technology and non-stop interruptions, the discipline of solitude is often sadly missing from our lives. So, plan to hide out with God soon so that you can go deeper with Him in prayer. If you’re looking for ideas on how to use this time, then check out this blog post I wrote a while back: “How to Have a Half Day of Prayer with God.”