Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Phil 4:6).
“pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17).
How often do you pray to God?
Early in my Christian walk, I found I could pray without ceasing. Or near enough!
That’s not a boast. And I don’t think it’s an exaggeration. I’m not claiming to have a deep and satisfying prayer life. On the contrary, after twenty-six years of being a very earnest Christian, I still feel like a beginner wearing floaties in the shallow end of the prayer pool. However, I do talk with God much of the time.
I’m not sure why praying without ceasing comes naturally. I’ve wondered if it’s because I have a robust internal monologue, which, to my surprise, not everyone does. I suppose it was not hard for me to turn that constant inner monologue into a constant dialogue with God.
I’m also a recovering worrywart. So early on, I learned to bring all my worries to God (which I still do).
The way that works for me is that I talk to God about whatever I’m thinking. That is, instead of merely thinking to myself, I bring God into the conversation. “Is this what you want me to be writing about today, Lord?” “Father, you know how much I’ve struggled with Zane. Forgive me, Lord. How can I love him better?” “Jesus, the hearts of the kings are in your hands…please don’t let those idiots start WWIII!” “What a beautiful pink sky. Thank you, Lord.” “Lord Jesus, look at this poor guy. He can barely walk. Have mercy and heal him, Lord!”
I try to talk to God about everything. And in case you’re wondering, no, I don’t hear a voice talking back!
If you find it hard to imagine what it’s like to pray without ceasing, an analogy by Thomas Kelly may be helpful. Kelly was a Quaker, and I would only recommend him to discerning readers. He compared continuous prayer with the experience of being in love:
One sees a mild analogy in the very human experience of being in love. The newly accepted lover has an internal life of joy, of bounding heart, of outgoing aspiration toward his beloved. Yet he goes to work, earns his living, eats his meals, pays his bills. But all the time, deep within there is a level of awareness of an object very dear to him. This awareness is private; he shows it to no one; yet it spills across and changes his outer life, colours his behavior, and gives new zest and glory to the daily round…The two levels are there, the surface and the deeper, in fruitful interplay, with the creative values coming from the deeper into the daily affairs of life (Thomas Kelly, Reality of the Spiritual World, p. 35).
Do you remember what it was like to be in love and constantly thinking about your beloved? People around you didn’t know what was going on in the privacy of your thoughts, but your beloved was always on your mind.
Unceasing prayer is like that.
Maybe that’s why Christians are called to love even more often than they’re called to pray.
Love is a great motivator.
The more you love God without ceasing, the more you’ll pray to Him.