devotional

25AUG
2013

Pray Without Ceasing

The phrase, “Short and sweet” may apply to the shortest verse in the Bible which says that, “Jesus wept,” John 11:35. How sweet is it to read where the untouchable One was touched? It may also apply to another of the shortest which says, “Pray without ceasing,” 1 Thessalonians 5:17. This is simple instruction. It is a short and sweet exhortation in the middle of many other short and sweet exhortations. It’s short and simple, but what does it mean? Does it mean we’re to be in a constant state of heads-bowed-eyes-closed meditation before God? No, that would be impractical, and no one did that in Scripture- not even Jesus. What does it mean then to pray without ceasing? 

     The Apostle Paul often spoke of his constant prayers for the recipients of his letters, Romans 1:9, 2 Timothy 1:3, et al. He prayed for people for their growth and steadfastness in Christ. He would pray these prayers for as long as they were needed. He prayed until he saw their growth. Jesus taught parables on the benefits of persistence even with God Himself, Luke 18:1-8, 11:5-8. He follows up this last parable saying, “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened,” Luke 11:9-10. 

     What it means to pray without ceasing is a privilege only available to the righteous. What is means to pray without ceasing is either that we’re to pray until we’re released from that prayer by the direction of the Holy Spirit, until we’ve received our answer, or possibly even until we die. Regarding this last one I’ll just say that I hope every believer dies with unanswered prayers. I hope that each of us dies having not seen absolutely everything we’ve asked God for. If we don't know precisely when we're going to die, and that that time was soon, dying with no outstanding prayers would mean that at some point we felt that there was no more need for prayer. 

     We’re to pray for things until there’s no more need to pray for them. This means that some prayers will actually never be finished or resolved in this life, and that others will. For example, I will never be prompted in this life by God to stop praying for men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:1-3) because there will always be unsaved men. I would, however, stop praying about who I should marry after I’m married. In any case I’m to pray until I have the resolution. 

     This might mean that we’re in prayer about something for decades. There are, for example, things that I have asked and am asking God for that I’m relatively certain I will not see until after the year 2020. How about you? Are you persistent and confident in your requests to God? Scripture is replete with passages about God’s ability to do whatever His children ask of Him in accordance with His will. He will answer! It might not be the answer you thought you’d get, but it will be the answer you need. Pray to God. Along with all of your praises to Him and confessions of sin pray for the things you desire. Pray until He answers. Pray without ceasing. Your answer may be right around the bend.

 

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