Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
The day we realize our life has become a continual prayer before the Lord is a glorious and mighty day. When we reach a place where everything we say and do filters first through the Word of God and the counsel of the Holy Spirit, we’ll never again need to ask ourselves what it means to pray without ceasing.
And we won't have to "go to the Lord" as if the trip requires us to lace up our tennis shoes while grabbing a map and an energy bar for the trip.
It has been a long and uphill road to get me to this point, not unlike climbing a mountain. As someone who dwells in the flatlands, a trip to the higher altitudes requires a day or two for my lungs to adjust to the “thinner,” less oxygenated air. For the first few days, physical activity is accompanied by frequent stops as I try to wheeze in enough oxygen to stay alive.
How powerful would it be if we gasped for prayer as fervently as we pant for our next breath as we climb?
As a new Christian just delving into the joy of communicating directly with our Heavenly Father, we may struggle to catch our breath. Questions about what to do, how to do it, and an awkwardness of engaging in this unfamiliar activity abound. The air seems too thin and the need too great for our weak and breathy petitions to reach the throne of God.
How am I supposed to pray? When? Where? How often? On my knees? Head bowed or face lifted? What should I pray for and how do I talk to God? What if I say it wrong and God doesn’t like my prayer?
In his letter to the church as Thessalonica, Paul instructs the believers to pray without ceasing. No words on how or where or anything else that might have been helpful. Just do it and don't stop.
Certainly we know we could fill every second of every day with all we have to pray for. Our family, friends, communities, churches, and leaders. The lost, the sick, the lonely, the grieving. The decisions we face. We have no worry that we might fall short of content
But without ceasing? It's our ability that we question.
Like hiking up a mountain, we take a step, moving an inch closer to God, and our lungs grow stronger. The more we pray, the more prayer seems to flow in and through us with ease. The choking grip of uncertainty loosens, and farther up we go. Step by step. As we explore this new and wonderful manner of communicating with our Father, our conversation starts to flow with a comfortable ease.
Then one day we look up to find that our conversation with God has become an unceasing current of conversation between us and our Maker.
When hiking in the mountains, our lungs adjust to the thinner air. Our breathing becomes more rapid and our breaths are deeper. Our minds aren't consciously telling us to breathe faster and deeper. Our bodies just knows.
Our spiritual being does the same with our prayers.
I love the image this gives me of my prayer life. The longer I talk with God and the higher I go with him, the more frequent my prayers and the greater their depth. The beautiful thing about this is I’m not really aware that it is happening. My mind doesn’t have to tell me to pray more and deeper. My spirit just knows.
That is how we move into a life of continual prayer.
My prayers have become the same as my breath, a reflexive activity that my life depends upon. We cannot separate our life from our breath. For the Christian, neither can we separate our physical life from our prayer life.
But it requires a first stumbling, gasping, difficult step upward.
And each step upward leads us on to a place where the view is clearer and the air is purer. The anxieties and distractions of our earlier prayers disappear at these high altitudes. Our prayers are no longer hindered by the questions we asked when we first began. And they are no longer limited by the need for us to move into the presence of God.
The natural progression of our prayers ushers us into a life saturated by our continual connectedness to God. Prayer becomes like breath, and we never again need to “go to the Lord in prayer” because we find we are already there.
Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed by an insurmountable and constantly growing list of prayer concerns. For our friends and family, our churches, and our world…the need is great, and our prayers are powerful. If you would like to receive a free copy of my resource for strengthening your prayer life, A Guide to Praying Through the Week, request a copy by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply sign up on my website. This resource will be delivered to your inbox on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 2020 as my gift to you for your continued support and prayers.
If you would like to help get these messages out so more people can see them, please forward and /or encourage others to sign up to follow this blog.