Pray Without Ceasing

By J. L. Leifeste

From the beginning, God has communicated with people. “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8), and mankind is His creation. Concern for us is a part of His nature, so communicating with us is important to Him. And because we are His creation, hearing from Him is essential to us. He wrote His words to us in the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3, 20-21; Jude 3).

The New Testament part of the Bible tells us how to be saved from sin and eternal punishment. We must believe in Christ (Jn. 8:24), repent of sins (Acts 17:30), confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (Matt. 16:16; Rom. 10:9-10), and be immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 8:36-38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-5). This makes us members of His church (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:41-47; Rom. 16:16). We also learn how to please God through Christian living (Gal. 5:22-25). This teaching from God came through Christ (Jn. 8:28) by way of His apostles (Jn. 16:13; 2 Pet. 1:2-3; 3:1-2).

Likewise, from the beginning, people have spoken to the one, true God. The results show the benefits (Gen. 4:26; 20:17; Ex. 15:24-25; Num. 11:2; Judges 6:39-40; 1 Sam. 1:27; 1 Kings 9:3; Lk. 1:13; 6:12; Acts 1:14; 12:5). Jesus taught His disciples about praying to God (Matt. 6:5-15; 21:22; Mk. 11:24-26; Lk. 18:1-14).

We, as Christians, can communicate with God through prayer. Many people misunderstand prayer, but the Bible tells us what we need to know about it.

Prayer Is A Requirement

Prayer is a main ingredient of mankind’s relationship to God. He created us in His image (Gen.1:26-27). More importantly, as Christians, He re-made us in the image of His Son (Rom. 8:28-30; 2 Cor. 3:17-18). Because of these mutual traits, communication with God is necessary for our happiness. Also, God commands Christians to pray: “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer” (Rom. 12:12). “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18). See Col. 4:2. Our prayers should be spiritual, earnest, and thankful (Jn. 4:24; Col. 3:17). Also, in our prayers we must honor God (Jn. 5:23; Rom. 1:20-25), fear Him (Eccl. 8:12; 1 Pet. 2:17), and love Him (Mk. 12:30; Rom. 8:28). Prayer is part of our worship to God and communication with Him. It blesses us and pleases Him.

Prayer May Not Be Answered As We Expect

God knows all things (Ps. 147:5; Heb. 4:13; 1 Jn. 3:20). His thoughts and ways are beyond ours (Isa. 55:8-9). And He has a plan, an eternal purpose (Eph. 1:9; 3:11). Therefore, our prayers may not be answered in the time and manner that we expect. God makes sure that all things occur according to His knowledge, ways, and purpose (Isa. 46:9-10; Matt. 10:29-30). Matt. 26:39 is probably the greatest example of this. Jesus prayed for relief from His approaching suffering, yet submitted to His Father's will (Phil. 2:5-8; Rom. 8:35-37; Heb. 5:9). This was most important. Christ suffered, died, was raised to life, and God’s purpose continued. This made salvation available for all men and women (Rom. 5:6-8; 2 Cor. 5:14-21). Christ was from God and knew God (Matt. 11:27; Jn. 1:1-18). We should not expect more of the Father than Christ expected. He is our example and we should always pray that God's will be done above all else.

Moses’ prayers were denied when he wanted to see God’s full glory (Ex. 33:18-20) and wanted to enter Canaan (Deut. 3:23-28). Samuel was displeased that Israel wanted a king, so he prayed to God about it. But God told Samuel to let them have a king (I Sam. 8:4-7). David prayed for God to heal his child, but the child died (2 Sam. 12:13-23). Jonah told God that he wanted to die. Instead, God taught Jonah about His love for all people (Jonah 4:1-11). Paul suffered from an affliction and prayed to have it removed (2 Cor. 12:7-10). Instead of removing it, God gave him strength to endure.

God sees all things and knows what is best. He helps those who serve Him (Prov. 2:7-8; Psa. 11) and does everything for us out of love (Heb. 12:6-7), even if we do not recognize it. Therefore, we should not expect Him to follow all of our wishes as He answers our prayers.

Prayer Contains Hope and Comfort

Christ said to pray because the flesh is weak (Matt. 26:41). Prayer brings us physical, emotional, and spiritual relief and strength. It helps us control our weaknesses. He also taught that persistence in prayer is effective (Lk. 18:1-8); “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). God will definitely answer the prayers of faithful Christians according to His will (I Jn. 3:22; 5:14-15). So, we should always pray with a strong faith in God, that He will provide the best response to our prayers. We must never lose that trust in God’s power, His wisdom, and His love for us, regardless of the answers we receive.

Also, the Holy Spirit and Christ help each Christian’s prayers by interceding for us (Rom. 8:26, 34; Heb. 4:15-16; 7:25). Such aid, and our knowledge of it, blesses us with peace and assurance (Rom. 5:1-5).

Christians also have a purpose (Eccl. 12:13-14; Matt. 4:10; 22:37-39; Mk. 16:15-16). We need God’s help in accomplishing that purpose. We must not loose heart (Ps. 40:1; 2 Cor. 4:16-18). We should avoid anxiety (Matt. 6:25-34). Entreating God and thanking Him in prayer helps us gain the peace that passes all understanding. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). By praying, we are encouraged and aided in our purpose.

God has communicated to us through His written word, offering us grace and strength (Acts 20:32; 2 Cor. 1:3-4; 9:8; 2 Thess. 2:16-17; 1 Pet. 5:10). Through prayer, we can offer our praise to Him and gain much from Him. Therefore, we must make prayer a continual, major part of our daily lives. Perhaps I Thess. 5:16-18 says it best: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”