If you’ve been a Christian for more than a minute you’ve likely heard the phrase “pray without ceasing” but…What does it mean, Why should I do it, and How in the world is a busy woman supposed to find time to pray all the time?
There’s good news – Praying without ceasing is easier than you think and you can pray all the time, even if you spend your day sprinting from one thing to the next.
The following what, why, and 7 “how-to’s” will show you just how to fit praying all the time into each and every day.
Here’s a printable PDF with the 7 “how-to’s”: Praying without Ceasing
A Little Background
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
These three verses are part of Paul’s sign off in his letter to the church at Thessalonica.
Prior to these closing instructions he was reminding the church that Jesus will soon return and until that time we’re to remember we’re sons and daughters of light and the day. That we don’t belong to the night and all it encompasses.
It’s because of this. and the fact that the race we’re running is long and hard, that he gives his closing instructions.
Simple, yet needed and effective, reminders for the ultra-marathon Christians are running.
The second part of the above passage, “pray continually” or “pray without ceasing” is what we’re covering today.
What is Praying Without Ceasing
Praying without ceasing seems impossible to the nth degree.
After all, you’ve got
- work to do,
- kids to feed,
- friends to hang out with,
- a house to clean,
- meals to cook, and
- the list goes on and on and on.
I get it.
It’s hard enough to find a second to send up a quick prayer of “help!”, let alone time to pray all day long.
Praying without ceasing doesn’t require you quit your job nor does it mean you have to find a mysterious hiding place far far away from your kids.
At its simplest it means you’re with God all day every day.
Yes, I know you already know God’s with you. Praying without ceasing is different than head knowledge or even heart knowledge of God being ever present.
It’s about you being mindful of His presence and focusing on the fact that God is with you no matter where you’re at or what you’re doing.
It’s part of what we talked about in last weeks post “5 Practical Ways to Meditate on God’s Word”.
You’re “practicing God’s presence” and…it takes just that, practice.
It’s not normal for us to go through our day continually interacting with God in prayer. But that’s what we should be doing.
Abiding in God all day long, no matter where we’re at or what we’re doing.
Now let’s explore why we should pray without ceasing and how we can make it a reality.
Why Pray Without Ceasing
The short answer to the “why pray continually” question is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16.
When we pray without ceasing it makes us “joyful always”.
The longer answer is because when we live our lives in a 24/7 attitude of prayer, prayer becomes our first response to anything and everything life throws our way.
Henry’s commentary says that praying without ceasing causes us to give thanks “for prosperous and pleasing, but also for afflicting providences, for chastisements and corrections; for God designs all for our good, though we at present see not how they tend to it.”
Why pray without ceasing?
Because it brings unexplainable joy and thanksgiving, no matter the circumstance.
How to Pray Without Ceasing
I heard someone refer to praying without ceasing as being like “always having music playing in the background…” It’s just that the music is your attitude of constant prayer and communication with your Abba Father.
These 7 “how-to’s” will ensure the most beautiful music ever, plays constantly in your heart and mind.
1. A Foundation of Thanks
“I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1
The instructions Paul gives in 1 Thessalonians 5, following “pray continually” is “give thanks in ALL circumstances.”
No matter where you are or what you’re doing you’ve got something to be thankful for.
Even if you’re running late for work you can thank God that your car started and you’ve got a job.
I had to thank God for a parking ticket today because it made me aware of the fact that my tabs had just expired (oops). It cost me money but…less than a ticket for expired tabs.
There’s always a reason to give thanks.
2. Keep it Real
“Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb? Why were there knees to receive me and breasts that I might be nursed?” Job 3:11-12
It’s easy to think that prayers are supposed to be these formal dialogues filled with religious words but…nope!
That’s not what God wants.
Throughout the book of Job we find Job being as real with God as it gets. The key to being real is doing as Job did, and not “charging God with wrongdoing”, or sinning in your heart.
God can handle our raw emotions.
Read the book of Job and look at the words that came from Jobs mouth. God was mad with Job’s friends because “you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”
He wants to talk with you as any father would want to talk with his daughter.
So, talk to God like you’d talk with your dad or best friend, just be sure you’re not wronging God.
Even when life’s at its worst, God still requires our honor, worship, praise, and respect.
3. One Thing at a Time
“Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.” 1 Chronicles 16:11
If you’re not used to praying all the time then don’t feel like you’ve suddenly gotta figure out how to change that.
Start with one part of your day, like
- driving in the car,
- doing housework,
- preparing meals,
- waiting at traffic lights,
- sending emails,
- scrolling through social…
Once you’ve gotten used to recognizing God’s presence, start talking to Him. Overtime start adding God to the other parts of your day.
Before you know it you’ll be praying without ceasing and I’m pretty certain God will have wowed your socks off along the way.
4. Learn to Listen
“Now then, My children, listen to Me; blessed are those who keep My ways.” Proverbs 8:32
This is one of the hardest parts of prayer (or at least it is for me).
We’re so used to having constant mental stimulation that listening to a God we can’t see or hear is tough.
But God promises to speak to us and He wants us to listen.
Start small, by thanking or asking God a question. Then focus your heart and mind on Him and listen patiently.
Learn to listen and don’t expect to always get an immediate answer.
God always answers but it’s always in His perfect time.
5. Give Up
“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22
There are oh so many things God wants us to give up and give to Him.
Stress, anxiety, and worry are at the top of the list because everything else we need to give to the Lord usually causes one of those three things to happen.
We worry about getting the right job and then are stressed about not making enough money to pay the bills.
We get anxious attempting to figure out if we’re good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, anything enough for fill-in-the-blank.
Take your stuff and lay it at the foot of the cross and exchange them for Jesus’ easy yoke and His light burden.
6. Just Admit It
“From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth – He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.” Psalm 33:13-15
We all know we can’t keep secrets from God but, am I the only one who still finds themselves attempting to keep secrets from God?
Confessing our sins is part of recognizing that God is with us 24/7.
After all, His Spirit lives inside of us.
Ask the Spirit to make you aware of your sins and be quick about admitting them to the Lord. Then spend time praising the God who came to earth, as a man, to die for your sins.
7. Praise the Lord
“Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim His salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods.” 1 Chronicles 16:23-25
What better follow-up to admitting your wrongs than to praise the God who forgives.
And yes, praising the Lord can be prayer.
You could even set it to music and still consider it prayer.
Sing your prayers, hum them, or simply go through your day speaking words of praise to God.
While you’re at it you may as well smile and do a little dance (or at least skip down the sidewalk).
Let me tell you – I loved writing this post.
‘Cuz with every word I was talking with God and praying without ceasing. I stood at my computer with a smile on my face the whole while my fingers typed.
And a little secret…I even danced a little (well at least what someone with two left feet considers dancing).
I pray you also found yourself overflowing with joy and that the joy continues to fill every area of your life as you begin praying without ceasing.
- Which of the 7 ways to “pray all the time”, is your favorite?
- Is there one you already do?
Friday we’re going to explore ways Christians can be mindful throughout the day. Not worldly mindfulness but mindfulness that’s centered on the Lord Jesus Christ.
As always, if you have any questions about what you read today please share this post with your pastor.
If you don’t have a pastor, Sarah and I would love to help. You can reach us in the comments below or send us an email here.