Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thessalonians 5:16-18
If you’ve read this verse and thought, “How do I really do that?” then you’re not alone. Should you never leave your prayer closet? Should you walk around with your eyes closed? We know that this type of prayer life is not humanly possible, so what did Paul really mean when he said to pray without ceasing?
Whenever I spend time in nature, I think about what it must have been like in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the day. Imagine that! To physically walk with God. To be close enough to feel his breath as he spoke. To hear his voice speak directly to you and then respond with your own words while looking him in the eyes.
Adam and Eve lost this beautiful fellowship when sin entered the world. And since then? Every one of us are born longing for the return of intimacy and deep relationship with our Creator. We may not recognize the desire for what it is, but as Christians, we know that the more we are searching for is a relationship with Jesus.
But how do I pray without ceasing?
Prayer is the communication tool of an intimate spiritual relationship. Back to our introductory verse, Paul is telling us to maintain an attitude of prayer because prayer contains different methods of communication. Keeping a prayer-like attitude means to be purposeful and conscious of times to connect with the Father and not only talk to him, but listen. It means to be aware of his presence and how he is working in my life personally. It means to have my heart so in tune with his that I won’t miss the moments throughout the day that are available to give him praise, listen to his voice, and ask for his guidance.
So how can we practically do that? We can analyze our daily living and make the most of the opportunities we have. We can practically look for ways to keep a prayer attitude throughout the day and make the choice to do so. Easier said than done, right? Let’s take a look at these ways to truly “pray without ceasing.”
1. Enjoy scheduled times of prayer.
I know, this is not new news, is it? Daniel turned to Jerusalem three times a day to pray. Many of us have been taught to pray before meals, a natural time to remember to give thanks. We teach our children a bedtime prayer. Keeping scheduled times of prayer is one way to communicate with our Father.
2. Be a noticer of things to be thankful for and breathe thanks to God.
Choosing to consciously give thanks for life, breath, and all good things is a beautiful way to practically follow through on the command to pray without ceasing!
3. Give God your worries.
It’s easy to foster a spirit of worry and forget to give our cares to the Lord. Train yourself to trap initial thoughts of worry and turn them around to thoughts of prayer. An example of this for me is when I begin to worry about my daughter, Taylor, and her special needs. When I feel myself getting anxious over her terminal disease, I try to immediately give that thought to God. It might sound like this:
“Lord, you know it’s easy for me to worry over the details of Taylor’s disease. I ask you to prevent her from having seizures and give her the quality of life only you can give. Give her continued strength and help me to remember that you are in control of every detail of our lives. We love you, Lord and we know that every breath we take comes from you. Thank you for it. Amen.”
I’ve found that the sooner I trap these thoughts and catch myself before the downward spiral of negativity hits, the stronger my prayer life grows.
4. Open your eyes to the needs of people whose paths you cross and lift them up in prayer right then.
While I’ve tried to become more aware of opportunities to pray aloud for folks right on the spot when they have needs, the timing is not always appropriate. I don’t want to make someone else uncomfortable with praying aloud, especially if I don’t already have a relationship with the person. When I’m in the grocery store and I see people with canes or oxygen masks or any other hint of physical impairments, I try not to rush through and look over their needs, but instead, I want to remember to pray thoughts of mercy and grace for them. A simple “Lord, be with them” is one more way to keep a prayer attitude.
5. Keep a prayer journal.
Writing out our prayers is a wonderful way to choose a life of prayer. Using and keeping a prayer journal is a topic very close to my heart. One benefit of keeping a prayer journal is that we more easily remember what we write down. This practice will help us choose an attitude of prayer even when we aren’t wholly engaged in practicing prayer.
6. Use tangible tasks to remind us to pray.
Life is full of daily maintenance. There are tasks we do over and over and over again that can be monotonous yet they are purposeful. Transform the mundane task into a simple time of prayer. One way I’ve enjoyed teaching this point in the past is through the task of hand washing. When I wash my hands, I focus on the cleansing and I ask God for forgiveness for my failures and shortcomings. What a fabulous way of using a daily chore to become a prayer trigger!
Praying without ceasing isn’t impossible as we initially think upon reading the Bible verse. To pray without ceasing is to keep our hearts open before the Lord in communication with him. Have these ideas helped you? Which one stands out to you? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments today.
By his grace,