Jesus in Luke 18:1 charged us to always pray and not give up. Paul instructed the Thessalonian church to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). These two scriptures makes it clear to us what the Father’s will is for us when it comes to praying – do it without ceasing. What does it really mean then to pray without ceasing? This is a burning question for all of us.
The literal translation of the phrase “pray without ceasing” is nothing left between, without unnecessary interval, without a gap. The word was used in ancient Rome to describe someone with an annoying cough. Although the person would stop coughing at times, he is described as a “cougher” coughing every little while but constantly aware of the condition that caused the cough.
From 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we can draw a few observations.
- Prayer doesn’t necessarily have to be audible. In Exodus 14:15 God asked Moses “Why do you cry to me?” yet there is no record of Moses praying. Moses was so intimate with God, that even though he may not have uttered a single word audibly, but his deepest feelings, thoughts, tears were capable of being understood as audible words by God.
- Where we pray isn’t essential. As much as we have our own allotted places for prayer, for us to pray without ceasing means any place is a place of prayer. We are the temple of Christ Jesus and we carry his presence (1 Corinthians 3:16).
- There are no set times of prayer. Although it is a good discipline to establish set times of prayer, it is clear from this passage that any time is a time of prayer. In some religions, they have established times of prayer. However, for us, the instruction is simple, “pray all the time”. I have come to realise that when I have prayed in my set time, I tend to be relaxed in my prayer throughout the day as I have this assumption that my job is done for the day. But the bible instructs us to never go without prayer. We should be God conscious continually.
- Unlike other religions that have to adopt a certain posture and face a certain direction, we are not under any instruction from the word to adopt a certain posture. Some people kneel, others stand, ultimately the posture we adopt in prayer is one of our choice. However, if we are to pray always, it is certainly impossible to be on our knees all the time.
To pray without ceasing is therefore a constant awareness of God’s presence. We are to cultivate His presence and commune with our heavenly father continually. The more God conscious we are, the more we are able to pray without ceasing. Like the “cougher” who is constantly aware of their condition, we are to be in an attitude of prayer and nonstop awareness of God.
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