“Pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
That’s it. Pray without ceasing. I used to struggle with this command all the time! I mean I pray for my meals, usually if I’m not too tired I pray in the morning when I wake up and almost always say my prayers as I drift off to sleep each night. That’s enough right? God knows how busy I am. I want to spend more time in prayer, but life just gets so full. God has grace on me thankfully. But there it is right there: pray without ceasing. Did God just give me an impossible command? There’s got to be a better answer.
There is a better answer. As I’ve learned with so many other things in the kingdom of God by walking through the fires of sanctification (a lot of times whether I want to or not), this short but powerful phrase, is not a command at all but rather an invitation. It takes nothing more than a simple mindset shift to see with my heart what the Father is actually saying instead of what my mind wants to interpret.
It is a glorious invitation into constant and never ceasing communion with him. How do we build a deeper relationship with others? We do it through communication, through union and with time invested. In accepting the invitation, we never have to experience a moment without the Father, we acknowledge that our lives and our thoughts and our minds are not our own and we are ever in union with the trinity and they are at the same time in union with us. Prayer is not an activity that we must do all the time, it is a continuous embrace that we get to enjoy, if we have the courage to receive it.
The mindset shift is indeed simple, but it can also be intimidating. It is easy to view this verse as a command that relies on my strength, my control, and my ability to accomplish. I don’t have to trust anything outside of myself, right? In fact it is another thing altogether. I have to abandon the reliance on myself and my own sense of control. But what is life, what is true relationship without risk and trust? And we know that God is trustworthy and He is good. So the real question is... In the light of His character that’s steadfast and unchanging, will we let ourselves be vulnerable and accept the Lord’s invitation to pray without ceasing?
Prayer: Father I thank you that you’re always with me and you never leave me. Help me have strength and the courage to open myself to your invitation to live in constant union with me. I receive your love and I trust you with all that I am. Help my life to exist in the place of prayer without ceasing.
Devotional by George Gilliland