1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
One of the topics of conversation that I get regularly these days is formed in the following question, “What can I do about all of the bad things going on in the world today?” People see all of the bad weather that has happened, the senseless shootings that have taken place and the worldwide unrest and conflict. I applaud that people want to do something instead of taking the lazy, apathetic way out that has been more typical in recent years. As I have thought about the question, I have been constantly reminded of the discipline of prayer. While I, along with many of the people that have been asking the question, cannot do a whole lot to “fix” all that is wrong, we can all pray.
I Thessalonians 5:17 reminds me to, “pray without ceasing.” It is an an attitude and spirit of continual prayer. John Piper interprets Paul’s challenging command:
“Praying without ceasing” means at least three things.
First, it means that there is a spirit of dependence that should permeate all we do. This is the very spirit and essence of prayer. So, even when we are not speaking consciously to God, there is a deep, abiding dependence on Him that is woven into the heart of faith. In that sense, we “pray” or have the spirit of prayer continuously.
Second – and I think this is what Paul has in mind most immediately – praying without ceasing means praying repeatedly and often. I base this on the use of the word “without ceasing” in Romans 1:9, where Paul says, “For God is my witness, who I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you.” Now we can be sure that Paul did not mention the Romans every minute of his waking life, or even every minute of his prayers. He prayed about many other things. But he mentioned them over and over, and often. So “without ceasing” doesn’t mean that, verbally or mentally, we have to be speaking prayers every minute of the day in the fight for joy. It means we should pray over and over, and often. Our default mental state should be: “O God, help…”
Third, praying without ceasing means not giving up on prayer. Don’t ever come to a point in your life where you cease to pray at all. Don’t abandon the God of hope and say, “There’s no use praying.” Jesus is very jealous for us to learn this lesson. One of his parables is introduced by the words, “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He knew our experience in prayer would tempt us to quit altogether. So he, along with the apostle Paul, says, Never lose heart. Go on praying. Don’t cease.
– John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight For Joy, 157.
There is plenty to pray about these days. I encourage you to develop the discipline of prayer in your life. Ask God help you grow you into a person that “prays without ceasing.”