Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pray Without Ceasing - Is It Possible?

"Pray Without Ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NASB)

At first glance, this Scripture seems unrealistic. How do we pray without ceasing? Assuredly, this verse is not telling us to stay on our knees all day long. So, how is this possible?

Some people believe prayer is very complicated, but it's simply talking with God. Prayer is often expressed with words, but it doesn't always have to be. It can come from the longings of our hearts.

Have you ever been sitting by a warm, cozy fire with someone you love? During these times, conversation can be happening without uttering a word. When you are with someone you love, you may not need words to have real communication. Similarly, prayer can work the same way. By having a close relationship with God we become increasingly aware that He is speaking to us. When our hearts are clean before Him it keeps the lines of communication open and His voice is amplified in our lives. However, when our hearts are unclean our ability to hear God is restrained. A clean heart brings intimacy with God and is a vital part of our prayer life. Prayer is more than an activity, it is a relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Developing intimacy with God is possible by His Spirit and by His Word. Jesus said in John 15:7 that we should remain in Him and His words remain in us. Remaining in His Word means more than just reading His Word for a few minutes a week, but rather by absorbing ourselves in it. We should have the attitude that Jeremiah had, "When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight..." (Jeremiah 15:16). His Word is where we find nourishment for our souls. Meditating on His Word begins to renew our minds and puts our focus on Him. God's Word reshapes our lives until we discover we have the closeness with Him that we desire.

Another reason unceasing prayer is possible is because the Holy Spirit took up residence in us when we put our faith in Christ (Romans 8:9, 11, 15). The Bible says the Holy Spirit is always interceding for us (Romans 8:26-27). Since He is living in us we are always praying, at some level, even though we may be unaware of it. This quote sums it up beautifully:

"When the Spirit has come to reside in someone, that person cannot stop praying; for the Spirit prays without ceasing in him. No matter if he is asleep or awake, prayer is going on in his heart all the time. He may be eating or drinking, he may be resting or working -- the incense of prayer will ascend spontaneously from his heart. The slightest stirring of his heart is like a voice which sings in silence and in secret to the Invisible." --Isaac the Syrian

Although our minds cannot comprehend this fully, we can trust that God is hearing the cries of our hearts. It's important to have those times away from distractions so that we can pour out our hearts to God, but we can also be communicating with Him all day long, even after we rise up from our knees.

Lord, thank You for the gift of prayer. Thank You that you want us to communicate with You all day, everyday. Thank You for the Holy Spirit that lives in me to intercede. Help me to have a pure heart so that I can have intimacy with You and that I can hear Your voice clearly. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Crystal Beavin
April 19, 2008

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen! This is wonderful.