Pray Without Ceasing
James 5:13 ” Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. ”
In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, God commands us to ” Pray without ceasing “, in other words, we are to pray all the time. All the time, you ask? Yes, all the time! How can that be? Does God expect us to be on our knees 24/7? Does God expect us to spend 24 hours a day in church? No, God expects us to go to work and school each day, to care for and spend time with our families, to eat and to sleep, but He asks that while we are doing all these things, we do them with a mind turned toward prayer.
In James 5:13, we read ” Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. ” We are presented with here with two extremes of life – affliction and merriment. In both cases, we are told to pray. If we combine that with the command to pray without ceasing , we can see that God’s intention is for us to spend our days, no matter what the circumstances, in prayer, that is, conversation, with Him.
It is very easy to look at our times in prayer as appointments, as times set apart when prayer is all that we do. And this is a part of God’s intention for our days. Just as Jesus went off by Himself to talk to His Father (Luke 6:12, Matthew 14:23, Luke 22:41), we are taught the importance of spending time alone in prayer with the Father. But when we hear that we are also to ” pray without ceasing” , then we know that we must pray at other times, too. Philippians 4:6 tells us ” Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. ” If we are to be “careful for nothing ” and are to bring ” every thing ” to the Father, then we know that there is nothing that is too small to be brought before the Father in prayer.
God makes it very clear that He is always mindful of us (Psalm 8:4). He never leaves our sides, nor will He ever forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He watches our goings out and our comings in, and He never sleeps or slumbers, but is always watching us (Psalm 121:3-8). He will be with us always (Matthew 28:20). If God is always at our side and always mindful of us, then there is nothing too small in our lives that is not of His concern. We can therefore ” come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need ” in each and every situation we find ourselves in (Hebrews 4:16).
We can also never forget just how personally God loves us. Christ tells us in John 10:27-28 ” My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” Christ not only gave us eternal life, but He also welcomes us into a relationship with Him. He allows us to hear His voice. He knows us and can pick us out of a crowd. He promises that nothing will ever be able to “pluck” us from His hand. He not only wants to be Lord of our lives, but He also wants to be our friend. He calls us friends in John 15:15 “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you .” Just as we can call our best friend at any time of the day or night to talk to them, whether it be because we are hurting, we are rejoicing, or we just need some company, we can call on Christ, who desires to be our very best friend, at any time.
Friends, this means that God is inviting you to bring all those things that make up your day to Him in prayer. This means that as you are driving to work, you can pray for His protection. As you are heading to that meeting with your boss, you can ask for wisdom and guidance. As you go to lunch with your co-worker, you can pray that God would use you in his or her life. As you sit at your computer, you can pray that God would help you with the report you are writing. As you drive home and get stuck in traffic, you can ask that God would be with you and help you to get home quickly. God is mindful of us when we are awake and asleep, walking our dogs and reading to our children, studying His word and eating with our families, painting our houses and planting our flowers. He invites us to be mindful of Him as we do each of these things, too.
Friends, never let an opportunity to invite the Lord into your day to go by. Never let a free minute go by that you don’t take the time to acknowledge His presence in your life. Never start a task without first asking for His blessing upon it. He is always at your side. Never miss an opportunity to let Him know that you know He is there and to thank Him for His presence. He loves to hear from you as much as you love knowing that He is there.
My friends, pray that God would help you to cultivate a life of prayer. Pray that God would help you to be mindful of His presence in your life and each and every turn. Begin today to ask Him to be with you at each and every turn. You will be astonished at the difference this will make in your day. ” The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).