Why We Pray Without Ceasing
November 25, 2001
Introduction: For nearly a year we have been digging into the theme of prayer. We have examined some of the basic principles regarding the power of prayer. We took the Lord's Prayer apart phrase by phrase. We looked deep into some of the places the Lord takes those who devote themselves to prayer. This will be our last excursion into this particular study of prayer. I guarantee we will be back.
In this last message of the year on prayer, I want to explore what may well be one of the most important principles regarding prayer. Paul taught his readers to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess 5:17). What does that mean? Some have taken it to mean that a believer ought always be in an attitude of prayer. I am not convinced that this is the point. First, I am not sure I know what an attitude of prayer is. I know what an attitude of faith or dependence on God might be. I understand the concept of humble submission to the will of God. I do believe the Bible calls us to live each moment with the awareness of God's presence. Yet none of this is the same as praying.
Clearly Jesus was in constant communion with the Father. The Father's will was his will. Perfect faith, humility, and submission were hallmarks of his earthly life. Yet Jesus sought special time alone to pray. There were times when he was praying and times he wasn't.
I seriously doubt that anyone can actually pray all of the time without ever stopping. The only way that can happen is to redefine prayer from actually talking to God to thinking about talking to God. I am convinced that real serious prayer requires focus and concentration. If we think of praying without ceasing as non-stop praying, we run the danger of never actually praying at all. When we think we have never stopped praying, we probably have never actually started!
I think the call to pray without ceasing is closer to what Jesus taught his disciples. ...
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