What comes to your mind when you read, “Pray without ceasing,” in I Thessalonians 5:17?
Robed monks chanting incessant prayers on their knees, rising only to eat and drink?
A pastor in the seclusion of his office, praying constantly, except when duty demands he straighten his tie and preach the occasional sermon?
Or a sweet grandmotherly figure, hands folded in prayer all day, rising from her rocking chair only to ease the aches in her back?
Thankfully, this familiar verse on prayer doesn’t mean any of these things! What we are instructed to do in this verse is very simple:
Be in constant communication with God throughout our day.
I like to think of it this way:
When I’m at home with my three sons, we might not be talking every moment to each other, but we are communicating. We walk in and out of rooms, look at each other, ask and answer questions, laugh occasionally (ok, more than occasionally), and know what the other members of the family are doing. Even though we might not be speaking words to each other each and every minute, we are enjoying one another’s company as we are involved in various activities.
(I’ll admit that my oldest son is the catch in this illustration. Unless he is doing homework or reading, he most likely IS talking every moment. I’m suspicious he thinks the verse reads, “Talk without ceasing.”) 🙂
For such a short verse, I Thessalonians 5:17 can be challenging to put into practice. Over the years, I’ve learned some practical things I can do to stay constant communication with God.
1. Begin and end each day with prayer.
“Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” Psalm 55:17
When that alarm first jolts you awake in the morning, say good morning to the most important Person in your life-your Heavenly Father. When you pillow your head at night, thank Him for His help and strength throughout the day. Praying first thing in the morning sets the tone for your entire day, and praying as you fall asleep will help focus your mind on the Lord.
There’s no better way to cushion your waking hours, than to place them between loving conversations with the One Who loves you the most.
2. Use physical objects as reminders to pray.
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” Philippians 1:3
I’m a visual learner, so seeing objects that are associated with a person reminds me to pray for them. In my life, here’s what this looks like: I have a row of cubbies in my daycare, labelled with the children’s names. I might be kneeling beside a cot, soothing a child at naptime, and I will pray down the cubbies, praying for each child as they sleep. Or I might spot my son’s tennis shoes beside his bed and pray for safety in his next sports event.
Perhaps you might pray for your child as you pack his school lunch, or for your friend when you drink from the coffee cup she gave you. Using objects as reminders to pray can be a great way to pray throughout the day.
3. Pray when you hear sirens.
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.” I Timothy 2:1
I like to think of sirens as God letting me know it’s time to pray for those in dire need. It’s incredible to think that we can have an impact on the emergencies in our world, even though we might never meet the people involved.
We can pray for safety and wisdom for policemen and women, for firefighters, and for medical personnel. We can pray for the injured-for physical healing for their broken bodies and spiritual healing for their eternal souls. And the most exciting part? When we arrive in Heaven one day and find out our prayers made a difference to people we didn’t even know!
4. When someone asks you to pray for them, pray with them immediately.
“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.” I Thessalonians 1:2
So many times when a friend shares a prayer request with us, we promise to pray, then go on our way and forget all about it. Praying right away for their needs has two benefits. First, you will remember to pray! Second, your friend will be encouraged by hearing your out-loud, right-at-this-moment intercession for their need.
Will people look at you strangely when you stop to pray in the grocery store with a friend? Probably. Will they strain to hear what you are saying? Most likely. And it is quite possible that it will be the only witness they hear of Jesus that day. I call that a win-win situation. 🙂
5. At the top of every hour, thank God for something.
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” Psalm 100:4
This is a concept I learned from author Ann Voskamp. She writes that she makes a point to thank God for something at the top of each hour.
You might think you’d run out of things to be thankful for, but something interesting happens as you put this idea into practice. The more things you thank God for in prayer, the more things come to mind for which to be grateful! It’s a wonderful cycle. Gratefulness always produces more gratefulness.
I hope these five ideas will give you inspiration to be in constant communication with God each day.
How about you? How do you pray throughout the day? I’d love to hear your ideas.