What does it mean to pray without ceasing?
Unceasing, incessant prayer is essential to the vitality of your relationship to the Lord and your ability to function in the world. But exactly what does it mean to pray without ceasing?
The first time someone hears about the concept of praying without ceasing it may conjure up the image of Christians walking around with their hands folded, heads bowed, and eyes closed, bumping into things. While certain postures and specific times set aside for prayer have an important bearing on our communication with God, to “pray at all times” obviously does not mean we are to pray in formal or noticeable ways every waking moment. And it does not mean you’re supposed to devote yourself to reciting ritualistic patterns and forms of prayer.
To “pray without ceasing” refers to recurring prayer, not nonstop talking. Prayer is to be a way of life — you’re to be continually in an attitude of prayer. It is living in continual God-consciousness, where everything you see and experience becomes a kind of prayer, lived in deep awareness of and surrender to Him. It should be instant and intimate communication — not unlike that which we enjoy with our best friend.
To “pray without ceasing” means when you are tempted, you hold the temptation before God and ask for His help. When you experience something good and beautiful, you immediately thank the Lord for it. When you see evil around you, you ask God to make it right and to use you toward that end, if that is His will. When you meet someone who does not know Christ, you pray for God to draw that person to Himself and to use you to be a faithful witness. When you encounter trouble, you turn to God as your Deliverer.
Thus life becomes a continually ascending prayer: all life’s thoughts, deeds, and circumstances become an opportunity to commune with your Heavenly Father. In that way you constantly set your mind “on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).
(Today’s post is adapted from John’s book Alone With God [Victor, 1995], pp. 15-17)