Developing a Pattern of Prayer
“Pray continually.” —1 Thessalonians 5:17
Here we go again—the second of three short commands in 1 Thessalonians 5. Easy to memorize, but difficult to practice.
What does “pray continually,” or “pray without ceasing” as it reads in other versions, mean? What would it look like?
The Greek word translated “continually” is the same word used about an incessant cough. Pleasant thought! Someone with an incessant cough doesn’t cough continually so much as repeatedly…and often.
Praying continually or without ceasing is oft-repeated prayer. A pattern of prayer.
What is not in view here is a manner of religiously bowing or kneeling, beginning “Our Father who art in Heaven,” and ending “In Jesus’ name, Amen.” Those reverent and structured occasions certainly are prayer, and effectual.
But this admonition to pray continually is found in a list of three commands, all addressing heart attitude, not posture and place. You cannot always stop, bow, or kneel. But you can always be in an attitude of prayer.
What, after all, is prayer? Maintaining relationships requires communication. Praying continually is abiding with and being in touch with your God. It’s not a long-distance call.
The Lord is present with believers at all times. He’s present as you face each choice and every decision in your day. He’s present in every conversation you have with family, friends, and co-workers. You can communicate with Him at every turn.
Praying continually demonstrates a spirit of dependence upon God and deference to Him in every setting. It is an awareness of and operating in His presence. It is walking in the Spirit.
My prayer for this week:
Heavenly Father, I recognize and am grateful that you are always with me. I desire to pray continually. From set appointments to pray—the morning and bedtime, perhaps, in worship settings at church—to the many occasions throughout each day when I could offer up a short prayer, a silent prayer, or listen for your voice—please help me develop an attitude of prayer, today, this week, and always.