“Never stop praying.” 1 Thess. 5:17 (Phillips Translation)
Last week, I responded to the call of the National Day of Prayer with a personal challenge for believers to move from an occasional, event driven-prayer life to one with greater intentionality and commitment. For many of us, this may be a very difficult assignment in that most believers, even biblical scholars may admit to feelings of inadequacy when it comes to prayer. What do you say to the Creator of Heaven and Earth? We struggle to find the right words or phrase as we attempt to communicate with the Most High God. Do we use the “ACTS” prayer formula—adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication? Should we follow the Lord’s Prayer outlined in Matthew 6? Are our prayers to be made in the morning or in the evening? Do we stand, sit, or kneel? Should hands be lifted or placed covering our heads?
To add to our personal prayer dilemma, Paul admonishes believers to pray without ceasing. What does that mean and how do you do it? To me, praying without ceasing is neither a pattern nor a spiritual event. It is an attitude we adopt as part of our Christian life style. Praying without ceasing is …
Purposeful. We come to hear from God. Our motivation to pray may vary—upon reading His Word, facing a problem or in anticipation of a particular event. While prayer is initiated by believers, we must also be “eager listeners” as God responds to our petitions and supplications. He desires to act on our behalf (2 Chron. 16:9).
Relational. We spend time with God. It is here that we begin to understand His nature—His ways and His works. He is “Abba Father”, so we approach Him as the loving nurturer and protector of our soul and life. In prayer we can be “totally transparent” showing Him all our faults and flaws. He knows our heart (Ps. 103:13-14).
Dynamic. We can come to God in the morning, throughout the day, or at the close of the day. Our prayers should never be “repetitive babblings” but genuine expressions of our needs and concerns. We often do not know how to pray about a particular situation or for a person. We can depend on the Holy Spirit to guide our petitions (Rom.8:26-27).
Inclusive. We are sensitive to the Holy Spirit as He identifies the needs of those around us. Prayer is not just about us. God will send people through divine appointments who need our prayers. We are to pray for those God “puts on our hearts”—our leaders, our nation, even our enemies. We are to pray for all saints (Eph. 6:18).
As we pray without ceasing, let us take a KISS approach—Keep It Simple Saints. One of the greatest privileges we have as believers is to bring our prayers to a holy and powerful God. Let us come to Him ready to hear and obey. Never stop praying.
SELAH: For your time of quiet contemplation, I leave you with a bit of levity on prayer from a poem that features four men discussing prayer. I believe God does have a sense of humor!
“THE PROPER WAY for a man to pray,”
Said Deacon Lemuel Keyes,
“And the only proper attitude,
Is down upon his knees.”
“No, I should say the way to pray,”
Said Reverend Doctor Wise,
“Is standing straight, with outstretched arms,
And rapt and upturned eyes.”
“Oh no; no, no,” said Elder Slow,
“Such posture is too proud:
A man should pray with eyes fast closed
And head contritely bowed.”
“It seems to me his hands should be
Austerely clasped in front,
With both thumbs pointing toward the ground,”
Said Reverend Doctor Blunt.
“Las’ year I fell in Hodgkin’s well
Head first,” said Cyrus Brown,
“With both my heels a-stickin’ up,
My head a-p’inting down;
An’ I made a prayer right then an’ there—
Best prayer I ever said,
The prayingest prayer I ever prayed,
A-standing on my head.”