Whenever I think about what my prayer life looks like right now and what I know it should look like, I always feel embarrassed. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is such an overwhelming verse to read. Get this, friends, it says “Pray without ceasing”. If this is something you already do perfectly, great! I actually need you to teach me a thing or two! If this verse seems impossible and very overwhelming to you, well… welcome to the club!
When we think of prayer, some of us have different ideas. Some imagine holding hands around the dinner table. Some imagine the Catholic sign of the cross. Some imagine being on one’s knees next to the bed with hands folded and head bowed. Or maybe the thought of prayer is terrifying to you because you have no idea what it’s supposed to look like.
Well, as we dive deeper into prayer, I encourage you to take away all the fancy “extras”. Sometimes our idea of prayer is so overpowered by all the traditions, and I think prayer is more than just the time we set aside at dinner, church, or in our home. (and 1 Thessalonians 5:17 suggests that prayer is intended for a lot more than we give it credit for!)
When we take away all the “extras”, what actually is prayer? Prayer is more than just a wishlist when things are not looking so great. It’s more than a tradition, and it’s more than just “the right thing to do”. Prayer is a posture of the heart that is in fellowship with God. It’s a time when your heart is in tune with His. It’s like walking hand in hand with Him, and 1 Thessalonians 5:17 leads me to believe that this is supposed to be happening all the time.
A lot of times we think of prayer as a specific moment that we set aside to talk to Him (which is not at all a bad thing!), but in reality I think God is always trying to connect with us. We just need the humility and intentionality to connect with Him too. I think it’s kind of like having someone glued to your side. Someone who’s always there and is always trying to connect with you. In the same way, God is always present and trying to speak to us. We just try to limit our communication with Him to specific times. My dad likes to say that sometimes we “turn down the volume” on God’s voice. He’s still speaking. We’re just not listening and responding.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself: “Great… so if I’m supposed to be continually in prayer, how on earth am I supposed to do normal life things?” Well, friend, I am not sorry to tell you that God’s not going anywhere, and you can be in continual fellowship with Him even in daily life. Remember when I described Him as being like a person glued to your side. He’s a part of the most exciting times in life and the absolute worst. The day you committed to follow Jesus is the day the Lord came to dwell with you through the Holy Spirit (which btw is like someone glued to your side).
Remember when I told you to lay aside all the extra embellishments we often tag onto prayer? Well, here’s where that comes in handy (; Jesus told His disciples that “When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogue and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others.” (Matthew 6:5). You see Jesus told us that the fancy prayers are not necessary. In fact, He says “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” (Matthew 6:6-7). Jesus is explaining here that our prayers are in the quiet places of our heart. It’s not intended to be a huge, polished moment.
This is good news for those of us who seemed overwhelmed by the thought of “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)! The command here is really to be purposefully walking with your Creator, to not “turn down the volume of His voice”, and to share all parts of your heart with Him. This is something you can be doing throughout the day. When something good or bad happens, praise Him (Psalm 145)! When you are filled with gratitude, thank Him (Psalm 100). When you feel concerned, share your burdens with Him (Matthew 11:28). When you have a decision to make, consult Him (James 1:5). When you feel guilty, confess sin to Him (1 John 1:9). Friend, He is here for every part of your life, and your prayers do not have to be 10 minute long fancy monologues! Sometimes a prayer for me is one sentence at a time throughout the day, and that is 100% okay. Other times prayer is a longer heart to heart with God, and that is 100% okay. Sometimes prayer is public, and that is 100% okay (Jesus publicly prayed many times (; – Matthew 14:19, 15:36). Remember what prayer really is without the embellishments: Prayer is a matter of the heart that is in fellowship with God.
Now, let’s be careful because sometimes “Praying continuously” can make it tempting to not pray at all. I encourage you to still set aside personal one-on-one time with God. He’s not just the genie in the bottle that you can talk to whenever you need Him. He wants your undivided attention, and He wants to be invited into your day.
So, friends, let’s engage in purposeful prayer. Let’s intentionally set aside time for Him and invite Him into our day by living with Him at the forefront of our minds.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18
YOU ARE LOVED <3