Tag Archive: prayer


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.

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Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

(2 Corinthians 7:1)

In a recent sermon, I used the verse above as my primary text to encourage the congregation regarding our obligation to seek after holiness in order to honor the Lord. In the context of this verse, Paul speaks frankly to the Corinthians, telling them that they were no longer what they used to be, morally speaking. He also quotes a promise made by God that He would dwell in them and walk among them as their God and they would be His people. For this relationship to prosper, the recently born-again Corinthians had to rid themselves of the influence of the sinful nature and give increasing expression to the new life they had received in Christ Jesus.

I imagine that this must have been an overwhelming challenge to those who lived in the culture of the first century. Corinth was a major center for commerce. All of the negative influences that could be found throughout the Empire would be present in this city. Idolatry, for example, was universal; self-gratification was the primary concern of most people. The environment encouraged rebellion against the Law of God. In time, however, the gospel was preached and the Corinthians were regenerated by the Holy Spirit. They are told that they are called to be the opposite of what they had been all their lives.

Regardless of when in history the people of God exist, this command from the apostle is always paramount. The gospel changes us by giving us a new disposition, one that is oriented toward Christ and holiness. This orientation must be nurtured and guarded and I would suggest that there are three essential and highly effective elements involved in “perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

First, we must fill our hearts with the truth of God given to us in the Bible. Bible reading, Bible study, listening to Biblical sermons, and reading Biblical literature are a few of the ways in which we can saturate our minds with the principles of righteousness. With the help of the Holy Spirit, these principles soon began to produce fruit. Another way in which to establish holiness in our hearts is through interaction with other Christians. These relationships produce an atmosphere conducive to spiritual growth and the development of wisdom.

Second, we must battle against every influence of our previous nature. This requires us to avoid certain habits, perhaps, or particular places where we know temptation awaits. Relationships that will not contribute to our growth in Christ must be abandoned. Again, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will develop discernment as we become more sensitive to the contrast between the holy Word of God and the many potential transgressions that we encounter every day.

Third, we must pray. We must seek God’s help so that we can walk peacefully under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We must ask God to identify those areas in our lives that are weak and need to be strengthened. We must call upon Him to reveal those subtle sinful tendencies that we might overlook.

What are you reading these days? Do you find gladness in a sermon that is true to the Word? How often do you pick up your Bible simply to read for a while? Are you being built up by Christian friends? Do you fortify yourself through prayer each day? Much grace is needed to live honorably before God in this fallen environment. It will never be easy, but it will always be our calling. Be assured that the mercy of God is abundant towards those who desire to honor Him through thankful and joyful obedience.

My anxious heart is open

Before You, O Lord, today.

Let your blessed Holy Spirit come

And have His perfect way.

 

Turn my eyes from things not pure,

My mind from things so vain.

Instead let my troubled soul be filled

With joy and praise for Your holy name.

 

Remove from me the dross of sin.

Lead me through Your refining flames.

Hold fast to me, O Father above,

Assuring me You are forever the same.

 

I am weary and my strength runs low,

My sight once clear grows faint.

But I trust You Lord as You reveal Your will

To guide and sanctify this restless saint.

 

When night is gone and the morning breaks new,

The cloudless blue sky will appear.

And I will know without fear or doubt

That You, my God, were always near.

 

Then by Your free and eternal love,

My heart will have known Your boundless grace.

With all wounds healed and hope renewed,

I will eagerly return to my earthly race.