Rejoice Always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Thessalonian 5:17
Pray without ceasing in the Greek translation is adialeiptos, which doesn’t mean non-stop, but rather means constantly recurring.
Last weekend Annalea and I drove 1,168 miles from Victoria, TX, to Indianapolis, IN, with a moving truck towing a car on a trailer. Annalea had never driven a truck set up like this, nor that many miles in a short time. I am somewhat of a veteran at this and did not really think about the ramifications of my actions during the trip or her reactions to my driving. We were in a deluge of rain for 15 straight hours with visibility at times down to feet and inches.
We started out okay, with Annalea bravely taking her spot at the wheel. Thessalonians 5:16-17 was at the forefront of my mind for her. God guided her hands very well. Then the weather got worse, so it was my turn. It was decided I would drive through the storm, and then on Sunday when the weather got a little better, she would finish off. I believe that if she would not have been a converted Christian when I took over driving, that within a few short hours she would have become one. Her prayer life was in overdrive as we pushed through limited sight, straight line rain, and heavy traffic. Prayer was “constantly recurring,” and God was in control.
As I set out to write this article, I realized that last weekend I finally understood what Thessalonians 5:16-18 is all about. In my research I found a blueprint for praying. So, let’s get into it and the meaning of Thessalonians 5:16-18 for a better understanding of our prayer life.
Begin with gratitude, not attitude. Tell God what you are thankful for and thank him from your heart. You can ask for things later, now is not the time.
Get real. Drop the old English we find in some of the KJV, be respectful of who He is, but talk to God as friend or close family member. Remember our prayers are utterings and groans to God’s ears. You do not need to wax poetic.
Incorporate prayers into everyday chores. As a young man I worked for a hog farmer after I got home from school. I would ride my bike the three miles to the pig farm to do three hours of chores every night. I didn’t do the work for my personal gain; it was money that went into the family coffers. So, I would talk to God on the ride there and the painful, smelly ride home. In order to not get down on life, I spent a lot of my work time in prayer. It was childish prayer, but a start to my prayer style today. So, when you do chores around the house, pray and converse with God!
Tell Him what He already knows. God knows what is in our hearts and on our minds, but there is a connection or bonding when you tell him anyway. It is like having a child tell you what they did at school or at play. You already have a pretty good idea what has happened. Their discussion with you just reinforces what you know, and the conversation that goes with the details is a special bond.
Pray while you wait. And yes, this means while you are waiting in line at a “fast” or not-so-fast food restaurant. You can do this while you wait the 45 extra minutes at the Doctor's office. This time is viewed as wasted by many of us. We tend to forget that time spent in conversation with God is not. The prayers will lift the weight while you wait!
Sing a Song of Praise. James 5:13 “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing.” My maternal grandfather was an excellent singer, and his father was a song leader at church. However, he would say that it didn’t matter if you couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. Making joyful noise to the Lord was acceptable and glorifying, because even the braying of the donkey was pleasant when your heart was right. I was brought up in a musical family, where everyone loves singing, and was taught that joyful noise is angelic when we are singing praises to God.
When you mess up admit it then move on. We are sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, which means we will sin, make mistakes, mess up, get jealous, covet, say mean things, etc. Metaphorically get on your knees and confess before God, then get up and continue with the day. In other words, practice adialeiptos!
Give up worrying, life is short, there are other more important things. Once you have given to God that which is heavy on your heart, ask for guidance and what role you will play. Then you must move on, and not take back what you have just given him. Then with a heart full of thanksgiving, thank God for what He is, who He is, and what He is doing for you.
Stop talking occasionally, listen instead. Matthew 6:7 “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” The number and the quality of the words you use doesn’t matter. I remember my Great Grandmother would always tell me “Jon, when your gums are bumping, all you hear in your head is banging. You cannot hear anything else.” As I grew older, I realized that if I petitioned God for help, I could not always hear His voice when I was monopolizing the dialogue.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
God’s blessing on all.
Jon Cable, elder
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