As I was saying (over a month ago) in my post titled The Fertile Soil of Prayer (March 29, 2014), when people think of prayer they often get this feeling deep down in their stomach… a sense of guilt: “I’m not praying enough” “I must not be a good Christian” “If people only knew how little I actually pray”.
We all know that every “good Christian” spends at least 30 minutes a day doing their “devotions”, right? And anything less than that is unacceptable. Especially when you consider that our goal is to “pray without ceasing”!
I’m sure I’m not the only one who often feels like this goal is so unachievable that I might as well not even try to spend time with God. But as I was saying in The Fertile Soil of Prayer my goal has been for us all to shed the guilty feeling or burdensome weight we often associate with prayer and come to see prayer as a gift we get to open.
The Five Love Languages of God.
The #1 Commandment. The one thing we should dedicate our lives to fulfilling is to Love God.
Have you heard of the Five Love Languages? (Gifts, Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Acts of Service) I believe God’s #1 Love Language is Quality Time – because through quality time you will achieve all the others. You will end up giving him Gifts and giving him Words of Affirmation (praises), and you will end up Serving him with your actions. The Physical Touch one is a little hard, but maybe that just means loving God with your body as in serving him with your body, or taking care of your body as the temple of the Holy Spirit. But loving God with Quality Time means praying.
Hebrews 13:5 “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. ”
Eph. 6:18 ” And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Let’s Be Realistic
A group called the Messalians decided the only way they could “pray without ceasing” was to recruit surrogate pray-ers on their behalf while they slept. Meanwhile, a group of nuns in Wisconsin have been praying in shifts nonstop since 1878.
So how do we realistically pray without ceasing? Here are a few tips:
1.Don’t Sin! If you find yourself participating in an activity during which it would feel awkward to talk to God, don’t do that thing.
There’s an episode of my favorite TV show, The Office, where engaged couple Jim and Pam have the world’s tiniest blue tooth ear pieces so they can go through the entire day on the phone with no one else knowing it. But Jim turns off his phone at one point because he’s embarrassed about the conversation he’s having with someone else and he doesn’t want Pam to hear it. To pray without ceasing we need to avoid doing anything that would make us want to turn off the ear piece.
2.Don’t Abandon Prayer
– Never give up on it. During the dry times: pray! Don’t stop. Don’t wait for prayer to be fun and lively again. How will you know when it becomes alive again if you’ve stopped?
– Don’t give up praying if God is slow to answer, or because there is no precedent for receiving the answer you want, or just because you think He’s not likely to answer
– Don’t ever not pray because you think God doesn’t want to hear you. Have you ever sinned and then thought, ‘oh no, I sinned…I want to apologize to God, but I should probably wait until his anger cools down a bit.’ That’s NOT how God works. He doesn’t need time to cool down. He is outside of time.
– Never assume you’ve achieved a spiritual point where you don’t need to pray anymore.
Charles Spurgeon: “As we breathe without ceasing, so must we pray without ceasing. As there is no attainment in life, of health, or of strength, or of muscular vigor which can place a man beyond the necessity of breathing, so no condition of spiritual growth or advance in grace will allow a man to dispense with prayer.”
– This is the air we breathe. Every breath can be a prayer; a prayer of thankfulness for life, a praise to the creator. Meditate while breathing – breathe in a prayer, and breathe out a prayer.
Charles Spurgeon: “if we would pray without ceasing, we must be always in the spirit of prayer. Our heart, renewed by the Holy Ghost, must be like the magnetized needle, which always has an inclination towards the pole. It does not always point to that pole, you can turn it aside if you will; in an iron ship it exhibits serious deflections, under all circumstances it is not exactly true; but if you put your finger to that needle and force it round to the east, you have only to take away the pressure, and immediately it returns to its beloved pole again. So let your heart be magnetized with prayer, so that if the finger of duty turns it away from the immediate act of prayer, there may still be the longing desire for prayer in your soul, and the moment you can do so, your heart reverts to its beloved work.”
– Maintain regularly scheduled prayer times as well as spontaneous times
3. Let Your Prayers Be Like Slow-Burning Coals
I’ve heard it said that to pray continually simply means never saying “amen”. That is a hallmark answer, or a bumper sticker, but not a real truth. You can’t hang much truth on that statement before it collapses. Obviously it’s more than just the words you say or don’t say. You can’t just finish your prayer and then go and commit adultery and think you’ve succeeded in praying continually because you never said the word “amen.” However, that statement does make me think about how my prayers can continue to develop and linger and stay with me even after I’ve completed saying the words of a prayer.
Like slow-burning coals, continuing to smolder and offer heat even though it’s not a raging fire.
…Tune in next time for the other three tips!