Praying without Ceasing

From Pastor Bordwine

 The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.

(Proverbs 15:29)

Yesterday I had an opportunity to speak briefly with an older lady who goes by the name “Angel.” She said that her friends gave her this nickname because of her dedication to helping people in need. For example, Angel volunteers at one facility that is dedicated to providing shelter for the homeless, food for the hungry, and rehabilitation for drug abusers. She also hands out food whenever she can. Sometimes, as Angel told me, she has little more than a piece of fruit or some bread to give away, but she believes that even a small amount can provide some temporary relief.

 Angel has two grown children. Carlos, her son, is a faithful Christian, according to his mother. He is active in his church and she spoke of him with joy. Her daughter, however, is another story. Angel frankly admitted that her daughter is entangled in a number of sinful snares and shows no evidence of faith. As we talked, I asked her if she was continuing to pray for her daughter. Angel responded: “Oh yes. Every day. That’s all I have left.”

I understood what Angel meant. She had exhausted all other means of trying to free her daughter from the bonds of darkness. Eventually, she realized that she had no other option except prayer. It was clear to me that Angel did not view prayer as a “last resort,” as so many believers seem to do. But she did understand that since every other attempt had failed, she was absolutely dependent upon the intervention of God to save her daughter; and so, with a unique burden that only a mother can bear, she prays without ceasing.

In the verse quoted above from Proverbs 15, we have one of many direct statements concerning the response of God to the prayers of His people. As this writer says, the Lord hears the prayer of the righteous. This promise does not depend upon the eloquence, length, or theological depth of our prayers. We do not have to convince God to hear us, nor do we have to create some kind of event to get His attention. We pray and God hears us. As His children, we speak to our heavenly Father and He listens.

As I said, Angel does not view prayer as an act of desperation. She views prayer as a continual aspect of her love for her daughter and her desire to see her daughter come to know Christ. But some believers do treat the gift of prayer as if it were a “final option.” What I mean is that, unless there is some crisis in their lives, such people do very little praying. When severe adversity appears, however, they quickly recognize the inevitable need for God’s help. And that is when their prayers become frequent and fervent.

The many declarations of God’s willingness to receive our prayers indicate that our petitions do not have to be formed in the context of calamity. Our normal routine should be characterized by prayer throughout each day. Obviously, I am not referring only to the kind of praying where we attempt to close off all distractions. I am referring to simple communion with God in our thoughts and words. This can happen at almost any time—while driving, working in the office or around the house, shopping, or resting. This approach to prayer is what I think the apostle Paul had in mind when he said “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:17)

Why shouldn’t we pray frequently? Why shouldn’t we count God’s promise to hear us as an encouragement to trust Him and a tremendous source of comfort? Is there any legitimate reason why you should not be characterized as a person of prayer? If God tells us that He will receive our prayers, it means that He expects us to pray—and not just during extreme turmoil, as I noted already, but frequently in times of stress and times of peace.

If you are facing a severe challenge at the moment, then you should be praying frequently for God’s intervention; and, like my friend Angel, you should not stop praying as long as the situation remains unresolved. If things are relatively peaceful in your life at this time, then you should still be praying regularly for God’s intervention in the multitude of “routine” issues we encounter daily as we seek to live for His glory. If God is going to listen, then I am certainly going to pray and I’m going to pray without ceasing.