Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thess 5.16-18
Happy New Year everyone! Last week I wrote a post on the first exhortation in this verse, rejoice always. What better way to start the year than talking about the next encouragement: PRAY WITHOUT CEASING!
Really? God wants me to be asking him for things all the time? He’s not too busy running the universe to hear my petty requests? I mean, I’m dust. Does he really want me to keep coming to him all the time with my needs and desires?
First, this is not just Paul’s suggestion, but a command of GOD.
God would not tell us to do something unless he really meant it and really meant to act upon our requests. And all God’s commands are are intended to bless us! Prayer is really good for us because it is an act of humility. And God promises to bless the humble. As James says:
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6
So humbling ourselves in prayer results in God giving us grace, that is, his strength and power and blessings.
God commands us to pray because he intends to answer our prayers.
He would never tell us to do something futile. He would never command us to pray unless he planned to answer prayer. The timing and the way he answers are up to him. But remember, God wouldn’t tell us to pray if he didn’t intend to answer our prayers.
We should pray without ceasing because PRAYER IS POWERFUL.
Again James says:
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16
Did you hear that? “GREAT POWER.” We have to pray in faith because we usually don’t see immediate results. Most of us don’t usually feel like our prayers are powerful. But God promises us that prayer has “great power as it is working.” And it is not our power, but God’s power. We are not powerful. But God has all power. And he tells us that prayer unleashes his power.
That’s why WE MUST PRAY IN FAITH.
Faith believes God’s promises, whether we feel anything or not. The writer of Hebrews says:
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. HEB 11:6
God rewards those who seek him. Again, the timing and the way he answers us are up to him. Our job is to keep drawing near to him and asking for all we need and desire.
We must pray “without ceasing.”
We can be tempted to give up when we don’t see the answers right away. We can be tempted to quit praying when prayers aren’t answered the way we would hope them to be. We can be tempted to think God doesn’t really answer prayer. And of course, Satan will lie to us and tell us prayer is futile; that God doesn’t really answer our prayers. And he will point out seemingly unanswered prayers. “Remember how you asked God for that particular thing over and over again and your prayers were never answered?” Satan would want nothing more than for us to cease praying.
What do we pray for?
Pray for God to change difficult situations. For God to save our children, grandchildren and descendants. For God to heal and provide for us. For God to work miracles. For grace and strength to endure. For God to help us – love others, serve others, bless others.
I need God’s help all the time. I am so weak. I often pray “Jesus help me to want to serve this person today. Help to serve you with gladness. Please give me joy as I’m serving.”
This is incredible! We have access to the throne of God. To the one who has all power. To the Creator of all things. To the one who controls every atom in the universe and who commands the hosts of heaven. And he tells us to pray without ceasing. He doesn’t get tired of hearing our requests. He never tells us he’s too busy or to come back later.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 PE 5.6-7
There is nothing too large to ask of God and nothing too small.
He tells us to cast ALL our anxieties on him. Why? “Because he cares for you.” Unbelievable! The Creator of the universe, the One who sustains all things, the One who has infinite power and might really CARES for us. He is full of compassion for us. And he wants us to cast our anxieties on him.
I would suggest trying to have a regular time to pray every day. One of the greatest blessings in my life was being taught as a young Christian to try to spend time every day first in God’s word, then in prayer. For me it works best in the morning; for others it may be another time. And don’t limit your prayer time to your “devotions.” Pray all through the day – “without ceasing.”
Pray as you drive through the city. Pray before that difficult meeting. Pray that God will give you the grace to serve your church or that needy friend. Pray for God to give you strength and patience with your children. Ask the Lord to provide your daily bread. Ask him to forgive your sins. Ask your heavenly Father to lead you not into temptation, and keep you from sin. Ask him to deliver you from every evil – from sickness and pain and all evil. Ask for whatever you need.
I’m not big on New Years resolutions, but if you could work on practicing one small habit, this would be a good one.
Pray without ceasing!