September 23, 2018

Unceasing Prayer

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Pray continually. . . .

—  1 Thessalonians 5:17

How can a person “pray continually”? Is that possible?

At first we might think this command means we should be kneeling or bowing our heads and praying with our eyes closed 24/7. But thinking of prayer only in terms of certain actions or postures can really limit our understanding. Prayer is so much more!

We’ve been looking at prayer this month as a matter of the heart. This means prayer is not an activity that is different from all the other things we do. It’s directly connected to every aspect of our lives, for the enjoyment and the deepening of our relationship with God.

Many years after the writer Flannery O’Connor died, some of her prayers were published in a book titled A Prayer Journal. Her prayers in that book beautifully express her desire to love God and to think about God all the time. Like many of us, O’Connor also chided herself for neglecting prayer. But even her frustrations with prayer were a way of praying!

Any time that we think about or are made aware of God and are moved to respond, we engage in prayer. As someone said, “You can always have a word with God.” That can happen when we enjoy God’s presence or when we crave it; it can happen in momentary bursts of gratitude, sporadic intercession, and silent desire. Continual prayer is the steady beat of a heart turned toward God.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us so many different ways to pray. Keep us close to you, in Jesus. Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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