1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 KJV
“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
In 1 Thessalonians 5, the Apostle Paul gives us several instructions on Christian living. One of the more challenging commands is for us is to “pray without ceasing”. Everything in God’s word is for our benefit and so praying without ceasing while seemingly difficult, is not only possible but will enrich our lives.
So, what does it then mean to pray without ceasing, what are the benefits and how do we practically pray without ceasing?
Pray Without Ceasing Meaning
In the Greek the phrase “without ceasing” is the word adialeíptōs which means uninterruptedly or constantly. In the NIV, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 was translated as “pray continually”. But how do we pray constantly or continually in our very busy 24/7 lives? For some of us even setting aside 30min a day to dedicate to prayer is quite a stretch, let alone constantly or uninterruptedly throughout the day.
If we have to also consider the definition of prayer, one of the more relevant ones I have come across is found here. Prayer is described as the “fellowship between God and humans as a communion reflecting the forms of the social relations of humanity (friendship, master-servant, groom-bride, father-child). (One implication is that anyone capable of conventional interhuman discourse is capable of praying.)”
In other words, prayer is conversing and connecting to Christ Jesus our Saviour and friend, the Holy Spirit our comforter and helper and our Father, our creator and protector.
What are the benefits of “Pray without ceasing”?
The benefits of constantly conversing with and connecting to Jesus, the Holy Spirit and our Father is that:
1. We can ask and receive from the Lord
Being in constant prayer and communion with the Lord enables us to receive answers to our prayers.
John 15: 7 KJV “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
2. We are directed and experience joy
As we pray unceasingly or at all times we are purposefully dwelling in the presence of the Lord.
Psalms 16:11 KJV “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
This verse shows us that the Lord will reveal to us “the path of life”, helping us make good decisions that lead us into fulfilling His purposes in our lives (link purpose article) and to “fullness of joy” as we remain in His presence.
3. We have faith in the face of adversity
As we learn to constantly commune with the Lord and abide in His presence, we know that we are loved by the Lord and have the support and help we need in every moment. Often, we read the Lord’s promise about Him being with us and helping us, but we cannot feel it in times of stress. By praying without ceasing, our heart is surrendered in every moment, and we become more aware of the love and support He is giving us.
Isaiah 43. 2-5 NIV “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you”
4. Our lives bear fruit
As we pray unceasingly it is a form of abiding or dwelling in Jesus. The promise of this is that as we abide in Him through praying unceasingly, our lives bear fruit.
John 15:4 KJV “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.”
How do we practically “Pray without ceasing”?
1. If you can worry, you can pray without ceasing
Praying without ceasing is a habit that we need to cultivate. If we can worry about something the entire day, we can hold things in prayer the entire day! Every time you notice yourself mulling over something negative that is bothering you, turn it around and surrender it to the Lord. Use your prayer journal (link) to start observing what negative worry habits you have and comit to turn it around as an opportunity to pray unceasingly in faith.
2. Notice when you feel stressed and cast it over
Beyond things that are worrying us, and we keep at the back of our minds the entire day, there are also certain circumstances, people and thoughts that can cause us great anxiety. Instead of dwelling in stress and anxiety, learn to cast your care upon the Lord when these stress triggers arise. 1 Peter 5:7 AMP “casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully].” Start noting down the specific events, people and thoughts that are causing you stress, and continually cast them on the Lord in prayer.
3. Continually remind yourself He is Lord
Part of praying unceasingly is keeping the Lord before us, reminding ourselves that He is bigger than whatever we feel or face in the day or night.
Psalms 16:8 NIV “I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
As you move through your day, magnify and praise Him for His goodness, His glory, His power and His unending love towards you. Remember His faithfulness towards you in every season. This will stir up faith, love and hope in your mind, body and spirit and put everything in your life in perspective. Memorize a few scriptures that you speak over yourself, your loved ones and your circumstances to remind you that He is Lord and that you are His beloved who He cares for.
4. Ask for direction in big and small
Whether it is what you should have for lunch or if you should move to another city, invite the Lord into all of your decisions as you make choices through the day and night. Our life is a series of choices big and small, invite the Lord to direct you in every single one.
Keep a prayer journal and practice each of the above 4 habits for a week at a time and then repeat the process until you are praying unceasingly and experience the fullness of joy in His presence!
My prayer for you is Romans 12:12 ESV “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”