Pray Without Ceasing

My devotional reading today reminded me of Paul’s instructions to the church in Thessalonica,

” Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The quote was written by H.L. Sidney Lear:

It is a good thing to have fixed seasons for lifting up the heart to God, not merely the appointed hours of prayer, but a momentary act before and after meals, beginning any occupation, entering into society, leaving the house, etc. Especially it is a help to make such brief acts after having said or done anything either wrong or foolish, after any trifling vexation or disappointment, when the spirit feels, it may be, wounded and desolate, or when one’s vanity is annoyed at having been guilty of some little folly or unseemliness. Sometimes we are more really troubled and sore at trifles of this sort than at far weightier things. But if all such things were met with a momentary uplifting of the heart to God, all these little frailties and worries would tend to mould the character more and more to God’s pattern, and they would assuredly lose their sting; for he who thinks much of God will daily think less of himself.”

For more on prayer see these posts:

Begin With Prayer

The Holy Spirit and Prayer

Prayer and Charity

Renewing Our Mind In Prayer

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith …” Hebrews 12:1

I am amazed at how our monthly themes flow together.  In a post last month I wrote  about how being reborn as a Christian involves “renewing our mind” (Romans 12:2) by setting it on Christ rather than worldly things.  This month I realize that what I am describing is one way to pray.

There is a famous spiritual book called The Practice of the Presence of God, written by Brother Lawrence.  He was a seventeenth-century French monk who spent most of his career working in the kitchen of the monastery where he lived. He was not a great scholar or theologian, but he was respected and sought out for his advice about prayer. Brother Lawrence  said that for him the times of prayer assigned by his order were no different than the rest of the day.  Here’s what he has to say:

“Pray remember what I have recommended to you, which is, to think often on God, by day, by night, in your business, and even in your diversions.  He is always near you and with you:  leave Him not alone.  You would think it rude to leave a friend alone who came to visit you;  why, then, must God be neglected?  Do not, then, forget Him, but think on Him often, adore Him continually, live and die with Him;  this is the glorious employment of a Christian.  In a word, this is our profession;  if we do not know it, we must learn it.”

I think this explains what I was struggling to describe yesterday.  While it is fine to set aside a quiet time of prayer, just as we might have a “date night” with our spouse, we don’t need to compartmentalize or limit our prayer life to this alone.  In Chapter 14 of John, Jesus tells his disciples that although soon they will see Him no more, He will not desert them:

“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever…” John 14:16

Because we are Christians, the Holy Spirit is with us and we can turn to Him continuously throughout the day.  Better yet, the Bible tells us that when “we do not know what we ought to pray for … the Spirit himself intercedes for us … in accordance with God’s will.”  Romans 8:26-27.

Give this kind of prayer a try today.  Fix your eyes on Jesus as you go about your usual activities.  See them with the eyes and mind of Christ.  Ask Him what he would do about the decisions that confront you, how He would react to the people you meet.  Then let us know what happened.  We’ll be praying with you.

God loves you and so do I!