“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:17)
Contemplate this verse for a few moments with me, to pray without ceasing, to never stop praying as long as you are awake. Does this verse fit your concept of what praying is or is it unfamiliar to you to be constantly in prayer.
Some might say it is impossible, yet we are not just asked to fulfill this verse, this is not a suggestion, but a commandment. I do not believe it is necessary to address this particular part of prayer, but there are those who think that prayer means asking God for something, most generally things for themselves, strength, material items, health and healing, the “God of give me this” is who they serve, and so this verse could hardly be applicable in their lives, for in the greatest sense they would be fulfilling James 4:3, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”
Is prayer promise? Yes of course, and while I do not doubt their existence, there are few that could be continuously in the prayer of praise at all moments of every waking hour, our thoughts and the necessities of the day would override those moments, and so by default those praises could not be without ceasing, but instead circumvented by our daily lives needs and even wants.
If you cannot spend every waking moment asking for something or in praise of the Lord, or even in a combination of the two, how can we pray without ceasing?
If there is one word that continues to show up in all the books that I read, books written by men whose sole desire it was to see the Lord God exalted above the heavens, it is this word, contemplate. “The way of the just is uprightness: thou, most upright, dost weigh the path of the just.” (Isaiah 26:7) This when added with our desires and praise, is how a man can pray without ceasing.
Every video, every television show, even the commercials, what you see outside your window or in your home or workplace, the thoughts of your heart, the Word of God, the words that people speak to you or you to them, every single action or thought can be used to contemplate the Lord our God. My friends, everything that is in some way can be related to the Sovereign Lord of all creation, everything. In fact, I would challenge you to find something that is not.
“For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36)
Is contemplation prayer? Are you doing it for the glory of God, are you seeking His face, are you desirous to know His will in your life, is 1 Corinthians 10:31 applicable to our opening verse, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” What about Micah 6:8, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” What does Ecclesiastes 12:13 say? “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Or Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
There are many, many more that tell us that the people of God spend the entirety of their time contemplating, praying and praising the Most High God. Did you think that there would be even one moment in heaven when you would not do so?
I offer you one more verse, and then challenge you to find more on your own. If we are to pray without ceasing then the best complimentary verse that comes to my mind at the moment is 2 Corinthians 10:5, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”
If these two hold true in your life, then you are either asking the Lord for something, you are praising His name, or you are contemplating the Lord Himself. “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalm 139:14) “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jer. 29:11)
Now what thoughts do you have of Him?