1 Thessalonians 5:17 says to pray without ceasing. Now that scripture is seemingly impractical right? How could you literally pray without ceasing, without stopping? How could you pray all the time? You must sleep, eat, use the restroom, work on other things.
Some churches have something called a prayer chain, where they assign different people to pray continuously in one hour slots throughout the day. That way, the entire day is filled with prayer from someone. So they interpret that scripture as pertaining to the entire body of Christ rather than each individual Christian.
That seems reasonable, but I’m pretty sure that somewhere in the world there are Christians praying at any given moment. It’s a really big world, you know with different time zones. Why would Paul tell them to pray without ceasing if it was guaranteed to happen anyway? It’s like telling someone to remember to breathe. I’m not sure this is what Paul meant.
I believe Paul intended for each individual Christian to pray literally without ceasing. But now we have to distinguish between two kinds of prayer – the act of praying and the state of prayer.
Act of Praying
We are accustomed to praying prayers. We essentially divide our day into two portions – prayer time and non-prayer time. We set aside 30 minutes or 1 hour when we pray and tell God all the stuff we want, and all our family that are still unsaved. That’s wonderful. Then the remainder of the time, we spend outside of prayer. During times of trials or fasting, we beef up the prayer time – maybe 2 hours a day. One person I know advocated tithing your time, i.e. spending 2 hours and 40 minutes every day in prayer (10% of your time). His mathematics was slightly off, but we get the point. But there are still nearly 22 hours a day not spent in prayer. How could this be considered ‘praying without ceasing’?
The act of prayer is when we consciously pray to God. Our prayer may follow the Lord ’s Prayer, or it may be more spontaneous. But it’s still an act of prayer where we essentially just pray a prayer.
State of Prayer
But there is another way to pray – the state of prayer. Now this is not a substitute for regular acts of prayer, but something to do in addition, i.e. something to do during our non-prayer time.
A well-known scripture says to acknowledge God in all our ways. Now think for a moment what that means. In everything we do, acknowledge God. Everything! If we’re driving, “Lord I’m driving to work now. Please keep me safe. Help me not to get tickets.” “Lord, I’m about to start work, please help me to be efficient and to use my time wisely.” Is there someone that upset you? Well you could acknowledge God even then. “Lord, I’ll be totally honest. I hate this person. I wish they were dead.” Some people say that you shouldn’t pray like that, but the truth is that God knows what’s in your heart before you even pray. Why not raise the issue with God? By the end of that prayer, God would have so filled your heart with His love that you would end up praying for the person to be blessed. Talk it out with God. In ALL your ways, acknowledge him.
Keep your WIFI on
Your cell phone is an amazing device. Some of you may be reading this site on your phone right now. You could do a lot of stuff on your phone. You could make a call, receive a call, send/receive a text. You could go on the internet and do stuff. You could play games. All of these are acts that you do, and when you’re finished, you stop doing them.
But if your phone is connected to WIFI, it is always at work in the background without you consciously doing anything. It is looking for updates, continually communicating with various servers. You could of course consciously turn the wifi off. OR you could just let the phone do what it’s supposed to do.
The same thing is true of our prayer life. We can consciously pray (make calls), read the word (receive text), then hang up. That’s what we are most accustomed to. But there is more. Your spirit can be in continual communion with God during non-prayer time. This is where you receive regular updates (daily renewal) and where you are in constant communion with God (communication with the server).
We can do this by acknowledging God in everything we do, and by meditating on His word day and night – as I noted above. But I submit to you that your spirit can be in communion with God even without you consciously being aware of it. Your spirit can be in communion with God even when you are asleep. Do I have scripture to prove that? I am so glad you asked.
Solomon’s Famous Prayer
We are all familiar with Solomon’s famous prayer, where God appeared to him and told him, “Hey Solomon, name one thing you want and I’ll give you.” Solomon, instead of asking for riches and vengeance on his enemies, asked for wisdom, and God gave it to him as well as everything else. We all know that story.
But do you know that this great prayer was actually a dream? Look at 1 Kings 3:
5 In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.
9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
10 And the speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing.
15 And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream.
God actually honoured a prayer that Solomon prayed while he was asleep. God actually held Solomon accountable for something he asked for in his dream. I dare say that it’s possible to remain in communion with God even in our sleep, and when we are not even conscious of it.
Consider also some verses in Romans 8:
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
These verses suggest that the Holy Spirit is continually in communication with our human spirit, and praying on our behalf without us even realising it. Note that this is NOT speaking in tongues, where our human spirits pray without understanding.
1 Corinthians 14:14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
In Romans 8:26, the Holy Spirit is the one praying. It is different.
So I am NOT saying that we should be speaking in tongues 24/7. I am saying that we should be in constant communion with God. Keep the lines of communication open even during our non-prayer times. Keep God in our thoughts. Acknowledge Him in ALL our ways. Keep the WIFI connected.Home PDF Comment Bookmark