Pray without ceasing. It seems a little extreme, especially in this day and age of constant going. It would have been easier for the disciples, back in the day, because it’s not like they had to get their kids to soccer practice or attend parent association meetings.
They could just around and pray all day.
When you read through the Scriptures, you know that is far from the truth. The disciples were constantly on the go and to make matters more challenging the going was all on foot. Plus, there were no walk-thrus to grab a meal for the family on the way home.
In other words, the disciples had things going on just like we have things going on although their things and our things were likely different things (but isn’t that always the case).
Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray without ceasing, but what does that mean?
If you look at the word “prayer” in this Scripture, it comes from the verb “proseuchomai” meaning worship and in some cases petition or entreat.
There are other instances of the translated word “prayer” throughout Scripture:
Erotao – to request
Euchomai – to wish
Proseuche – worship (an oratory)
Stenazo – calling out (mumbling) in straits
Deomai – to petition
Parakaleo – to call near, invite, call for
Jesus most often used “proseuchomai” to discuss pray. It’s the word He uses in Matthew to explain to His followers HOW they should pray. It’s the word used to describe what Jesus did when He went up to the mountain alone. It’s the word used to describe what Jesus did in the garden.
In modern translations of Greek, the word simply means “I pray.”
When you dig in deeper to this word used for prayer, you discover it is derived from the word “pros” (toward, facing) and “euchomai” (speak out, utter aloud). It encompasses all aspects of prayer and carries with it a notion of worship that is not present in all prayers.
That clears things up completely, right?
If we strip away all of the legalese, the pomp and circumstance, and the complicatedness, it comes down to you being connected and combined with God. He’s not just near you, He’s in you, and you are worshiping in and through that connection.
That’s the Lang translation.
Putting Prayer to Work in Real Life
Pray without ceasing – yep, there it is again. You have to be in constant communication with God because He is a part of you. You are woven into His family. That doesn’t mean you have to be constantly listening to the connections.
The other day, I was driving my son home with some friends. I shared some stories with them during the drive, and the young man behind me would respond after each story with, “that’s so interesting.” After the third time, I realized he wasn’t even almost listening to me. He was hearing that I was talking, and when I would stop talking he would reply.
If you are going to pray without ceasing you have to do more than hear – you have to actively listen.
Actively listen to the Word – listening to the Word requires more than weekly church attendance. Even in denominations where the Scripture is read, you still don’t get enough meat to make it through the week.
Last year, I set a goal of reading the Bible all the way through once a month (by tithing my time). I made it through April. This year, I lowered the pole a little, and I’m reading it through once a quarter using a different translation each time through.
You can do studies. You can do classes. Even with those on top of your Sunday attendance, you still need to invest in the Word daily on your own.
Put it in writing – when you write it down, you have a visual to help bring it to mind and when something is on your mind it hold your focus. Plus, a written record will help you see what God has been doing in your life. It will bring to remembrance the blessings as well as keep the current needs and wants in the focus (for you, not for God. Trust me, God knows).
Several years ago, I was leading a women’s group and we were talking about having a prayer focus. I put together a worksheet for my use that included the prayer need, the Scripture that referenced the situation, and thoughts or feelings about the why or what behind the need. It also had a place to put the date of the first prayer and the date of the answered prayer because I always pray expecting an answer.
Prayer is the most powerful weapon you have, so you want to practice putting it into action for your life and for those around you. It’s not a magic wand, but it is the foundation you need to stand strong no matter what storms come your way.
Are you looking for more ways to create balance for your life? Practicl Proverbs Revised provides 8 tips from the Book of Proverbs for living out a life of peace and joy. It includes five steps for each tip and a study guide to coorespond with each step.