Pray Without Ceasing
Prayer must be pretty important if Paul urges the church to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). One thing we can know for sure is that prayer is no trifling thing. Not that we must pray 24/7, but Christians are a people of prayer. We should be constant in prayer and never give it up. God’s people pray. So why is it that we, so often struggle with prayer?
What is prayer? At its most basic, prayer is talking to God. But why would we want to do that? Interestingly, every religion has a form of prayer to God. Even people who don’t believe in God try to get in touch with something through meditation. Perhaps people don’t want to speak to the Almighty as much as they want to be heard by the Almighty. There is a subtle difference. We want God to listen to what we say and then do what we want Him to do. The Baptist Catechism says, “Prayer is an offering up our desires to God, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, believing, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgments of his mercies.”
There are reasons for prayerlessness. One is there is no life. A religious hypocrite can fake spirituality before everyone else, but private, secret prayer can tell the real story. So, a prayerless person may be a godless person, and the only answer to that is to come to Jesus, repent of self-righteousness and self, and come to the Saviour of men for forgiveness, pardon, and life.
But, that’s not the only reason. One encouragement, we are told in several places to pray (cf. Luke 18:1; Luke 21:34-36; 1 Peter 4:7; Romans 12:12, etc.). Why do you think we are told so often to pray? Yes, because it’s essential. But also because we are tempted to forsake prayer. That’s why Paul said not to stop. So you are not alone in this particular temptation.
You might struggle because you don’t know a lot about prayer. You know that you ought to, and you would like to, but you don’t know where to begin, or what you do know isn’t enough to keep you going. Learning more about the theology of prayer, considering the Trinity, and what grounds we have the confidence to boldly come before the throne of grace, the more we will be drawn to pray.
One temptation is to think more about praying than about Jesus. Considering the theology of prayer, why we pray, and who we pray to should get Christians excited to pray. But if we think about the obligation, mechanics, and schedule, it becomes more of a meeting than worship. Theology will help you to pray. Knowing ourselves and our great needs, knowing God and His greatness, and meditating on the love of Christ for us will motivate and enliven prayer more than any schedule or arbitrary routine.