The Apostle Paul tell s us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:16-18). What does that look like? How is that even possible? A clue (the Bible itself should always be our first reference source for scripture interpretation) is in the words preceding and following this admonition. “Rejoice always” and “give thanks”. But, it can be difficult to rejoice and be thankful when sick, or suffering loss or great financial difficulty, isn’t it. But, in the face of adversity, we are told to focus on the good, the truth, the honorable, the pure, the lovely (Phil 4:8). Jesus gave us a template for prayer in what is often called the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:19). In consonance with that, a good friend of mine, a doctor who had an especially powerful prayer life, liked to use the memory aid of ACTS when he prayed:
- Accolades – remember that we are praying to the Lord of the universe, our very creator
- Confess – confess our sins and forgive others, in order that we might be forgiven and our prayers not be hindered
- Thanksgiving – an attitude of gratitude, joy in what God has done for us, and will do for us in the future
- Supplication – “ask” for our needs and wants
Fortunately for us mere humans, God has indwelt us with the very Holy Spirit in order to act as our translator (in both directions: to God and from God), our intermediary with our infinite God. Prayer without ceasing is akin to “binding the Holy Scriptures to our foreheads”, which many Jews do literally: a metaphor for using the instructions of the Bible to direct our every thought and action. Pray without ceasing – to be in constant communication with our Lord. That is what we should aspire to. What an incredible, astounding gift to be able to talk personally to God! That fact alone is worthy of our rejoicing and thanks!