“…pray without ceasing…” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Too often we think of prayer as that thing we are left to do when all other options are beyond our reach, but that type of thinking is faulty when held up against the truth of the bible. Ephesians 6:18 goes even further in its explanation of how to pray, by telling us to “…pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” The key words or phrases I would like to emphasize from these scripture verses are: “without ceasing”, “watchful”, and “perseverance”.
First of all, to pray “without ceasing” does not mean that all we do is pray, but rather it means to be consistent and persistent in prayer. Therefore when events come up in life which cause you to doubt, fear, question, criticize, complain, worry, judge, or flee, instead of doing what your first reaction tells you is the best choice in the situation, pray instead. God will always give wisdom and insight into a situation if we learn to first take the time to seek Him before we act on an impulse.
Next, being “watchful“ means keeping a lookout for ways you may be tempted to take things into your own hands or react in a manner that does not show trust or belief in God’s ability to provide. Also, being “watchful” is having an open heart to the Holy Spirit so when a prayer need arises you are ready to pray. Many times the Holy Spirit will bring a person or event to mind of a believer so they can pray. These are divine appointments and ways God involves us in the work He is doing in our own homes, our communities, and in our world. Being “watchful” allows us to be missionaries from our own homes with a power greater than could be yielded from our own efforts. And, being “watchful” ensures that we are not caught off guard when twists and turns happen along the way of following God.
Finally, “perseverance” is the ability to stand strong. Sometimes it seems like prayers are prayed over and over again to no avail or with effects that seems worse than when you first started praying about them. But, we must always remember that prayer is not a way for us to change God or His will, instead it is a way for us to come into a relationship with God and be oriented to His will. “Perseverance” in prayer teaches us that communion with God is the source of life, not the fulfillment of the requests we bring before Him.
Prayer is the key to finding the strength for the day, the companionship and spiritual support we need when the stresses of the day are wearing us down, and the restful assurance that the peace of God can surpass all understanding to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Knowing all that prayer can provide, it is a wonder why we don’t spend every day “..pray[ing] without ceasing…”