Pray Without Ceasing
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Have you ever wondered what Paul was thinking when he wrote this to the church in Thessalonica? Pray without ceasing…really, Paul, have you ever raised kids? Worked three jobs? Ran a business? Renovated a house? Studied for a master’s degree?
But the point he’s making is this idea of being in constant communion with God. Living our daily lives with God in our hearts, minds, and spirits every day, all day, regardless of our activity. From the time we wake to the time we go to bed. There’s no need to always have a special posture (although there is a time for that) or specific words (although there’s also a time for that). God simply wants us to be with Him. To “abide in the vine.”
Let it sink in for a moment. The God of the universe who created everything wants to be with you and hear about your feelings and dreams and hopes and fears. He wants to hear about the struggles you’re having with your kids, how much you like or dislike your roommate, how that offhand remark hurt your feelings, and what you had for lunch. And He wants to reply.
There is so much that has been said about prayer. And yet, at its core, it is simply talking with God. When you want to get closer to someone, you talk with them. In the same way, prayer will bring you into more intimacy with God.
Here are a few practical tips to incorporate simple conversation with God into your everyday, ordinary life.
Start in the morning.
Coffee and Jesus. It really is the best way to start your morning. Even if you can only manage 5 minutes, starting the day with prayer, scripture, and quiet meditation will get you going in the right direction. According to a survey from Reviews.org, 71% of people check their phone within 10 minutes of waking up. Imagine waking up to Jesus instead of the chaos of the news feed or your inbox. Sounds better, right?
Let your activity guide your prayer.
When the day starts to get going and you're busy packing lunches, cleaning up spills, answering texts, and getting out the door, remember that God created order out of chaos and ask for His help to create order and peace in your day.
When you open your toolbox or your inbox, remember that God works, and He created you to work also. He wants you to contribute to human flourishing! Thank Him that you have purposeful work to do and ask Him for help to do your best and to give you creativity and focus. If you’re a leader, ask Him to help you guide and lead with integrity.
When you’re dealing with a temper tantrum remember that God is patient with us and ask Him to give you patience and wisdom.
As you’re cooking dinner, thank God for providing food for you. How amazing that He’s given humans such amazing creativity to prepare all sorts of delicious things to eat.
When you mow the lawn, marvel at God’s creation and thank Him that you get to partner with Him to make the world a more beautiful place.
As you relax in the evening, thank God that you have a home and comfortable place to sit. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you choose your entertainment or relaxation activities.
Hey, Siri, remind me to pray.
We can easily get lost in our day without even thinking about God until the end when we’re winding down. How about setting a timer? Many people have found it helpful to set a phone timer three times per day — morning, noon, and night — as reminders to connect with God. It doesn’t have to be an ultra long prayer session, but it can be a nice prompt to turn your mind back to God in the middle of a hectic workday.
Out of words? Use someone else's.
The Psalms are full of someone else’s prayers. King David’s mostly, along with others. They are full of joy, sadness, anxiety, anger, and a whole host of other emotions. Chances are, you’ll find one that encapsulates the way you feel. If you’re at a place where the words just won’t come, pray the Psalms.
Pray the way Jesus did.
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he responded with the Lord’s Prayer. Many of us have grown up reciting the Lord’s Prayer verbatim, but it can also be a helpful “outline” for us to use as we pray. If it’s become overly familiar in its traditional translation, consider paraphrasing it yourself or using another translation such as The Message version to bring a fresh perspective as you meditate and incorporate it in your own prayer life.
Hello, Father! You are the greatest!
Your way is better!
I want to live your way.
Please give us today what we need today.
Forgive me for doing wrong things and help me to forgive others for doing wrong things to me.
Keep us safe from bad things.
You are the greatest!