Pray continually. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV
If this verse gives you flashes of life in a monastery, relax. That said, one of the best practical examples of this verse was a seventeenth-century Carmelite monk named Brother Lawrence. He wrote the book, The Practice of the Presence of God.
Let’s explore some insights into the verse above:
1) Prayer should be regular. Don’t relegate prayer to a few lines at meals or before bed. Make an appointment. What regular task do you have that allows you to pray? Folding laundry? Unloading the dishwasher? Commuting? I’ve found walking provides a great time to pray.
“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers.” 1 Thess. 1:2
2) Prayer enables personal fellowship with God. Brother Lawrence shone here because he practiced God’s presence wherever he went. His mindset centered on continual fellowship with God. My hurdle? one-way communication. I talk too much. I’m working on stopping and listening.
The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5-7 [emphasis mine]
3) Be faithful in prayer. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary highlights two words: persistent and consistent. In Luke 18, the parable of the persistent widow speaks to perseverance in prayer. Acts 10 records the conversion of the first Gentile, Cornelius. This man’s consistent prayers and generosity caught God’s attention.
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. Luke 18:1
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. Acts 10:1-2
4) Eliminate hindrances. Matthew Henry said prayer without ceasing was not praying all the time, but that at the proper time, nothing should hinder us in prayer. What hinders you? For me, the clock tick, tick, ticks. The waiting demands of the day pressure me to cut my time with God short. God often multiplies my time when I make room for Him.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8
5) Cultivate an attitude of dependence. Adam Clarke said, “Feel that dependence at all times and you will always be in a spirit of prayer.” When God becomes your Source for all things, you will find yourself often at the Source. My granddaughters look to their mom and dad for everything. My heart toward my heavenly Dad should be just like theirs.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
6) Link prayer to joy. I don’t believe it’s coincidental this verse follows last week’s verse on joy. If one is missing in your life, the other might be as well. As with joy, I struggle with prayer. Finding, no, making time. Talking too much. Learning to listen. Like joy, I have to choose prayer and often, it’s work. For now.
“Rejoice always, pray continually.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown interpret the Greek as to pray without intermission. Let’s close the gaps in our prayer lives.
1) Be intentional. Schedule a weekly family prayer time. Talk about prayer concerns. Pray for each other. Pair up for prayer one night. Mom, Dad, how about a family blessing? Tailor your blessings to the needs and love languages of your kids. (A great resource is Gary Smalley and John Trent’s book, The Blessing.)
2) Cultivate a sense of God’s presence by setting an extra place at the table, making room on the couch, or saving a seat in the car. How does this affect the conversation or entertainment choices? (Brother Lawrence’s book, The Practice of the Presence of God, is a classic.)
3) Share some long-term prayers. What has kept you going?
4) Share your personal prayer challenges and help each other find solutions. I always think of things I need to do. Having a Post-it Note and a pen handy allow me to jot it down, then refocus on God.
5) Talk about the need for a two-way conversation. What would family time look like if one person talked the whole time?