Pray without ceasing
Make my life a prayer to you,
I wanna do what you want me to.
No empty words and no white lies,
No token prayers no compromise.
– Keith Green – Make My Life A Prayer To You
Many Christians have literally embraced 1 Thessalonians 5:17, which instructs to praying without ceasing as we are dependent on God for every good. Some struggle with the thought of dedicating so much time to prayer. The prayer process can be confusing, with Christians wondering about the ‘right formula’ and the effectiveness of it.
For answers on the issue, Family & Religion reached out to counsellor and minister Paul Blake, who said ‘praying without ceasing’ does not mean ‘non-stop’ but rather regularly recurring. Blake said as a ‘prayerful’ Christian, it does not mean you are going to walk about with a pious look on your face or mumbling a prayer all through the day. It’s about purposing in your heart to make prayer a priority and being in constant dialogue with our Heavenly Father. “Wherever you are, walking on the road, driving, you don’t even have to say anything. There are times when the time spirit speaks for us with groaning which cannot be uttered,” said Blake. Praying is not just a repetition of words, it is more of a lifestyle which acknowledges that we must keep ourselves available to communicate with God.
For Blake, too many Christians see God as ‘Santa Claus’, and so their requests surround asking for things instead of using their prayer life to build up a meaningful relationship with God.
Going back to what he terms the ‘blueprint’ for prayer, he referred to the Lord’s Prayer.
He said if one studies the format, then what is required is giving God due reverence, expecting His will to be done in our lives, accepting that it is not about our desires and what we want, but know that God’s purposes are far greater than one could ever imagine.
If Christians keep in this meditative mood, then their thoughts and hearts will be in the right place.
According to Blake, Christians sometimes get carried away and overzealous in following the Word of God, which accounts for the saying, “being too heavenly minded and ending up being no earthly good”.
He said it is commendable for those who want to dedicate as much time to praying as is possible, but in all practicality, work and other commitments dictate that there should be a ‘strategy’ in keeping the divine connection.
“There are times you are engaged in work, you breathe a quick word, the main thing is to develop an attitude of being in tuned with God … and it’s not about mouthing a litany of words,” said Blake.
He said part of carrying out the biblical mandate is spending time in continuous worship, which speaks more to lifestyle rather than a ritual.
“If you think about it, there are so many things to give God thanks for, things that we just take for granted. Being in a thankful mood and a grateful spirit is also a way of keeping a prayerful spirit,” he shared.
Blake said handling that ‘prayerful mood’ throughout the day involves your heart and your thoughts. For him, no matter what is happening throughout the day, he said Christians should try to rein in their thoughts.
One great way of doing that, he said, is ensuring they pay attention to the advice given in Philippians 4 vs 8 – “F inally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”