Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pray Without Ceasing . . . Really? (1 Thessalonians 5 )

Joyful believers will also be prayerful believers. Those who live their Christian lives in joyful dependency on God will continually recognize their own insufficiency and therefore constantly be in an attitude of prayer. Paul's exhortation to the Thessalonians to pray without ceasing is thus a divine mandate to all believers. Pray is from proseuchomai, the most common New Testament word for prayer (e.g., Matt. 6:5--6; Mark 11:24; Luke 5:16; 11:1--2; Acts 10:9; Rom. 8:26; 1 Cor. 14:13--15; Eph. 6:18; Col. 1:9; 2 Thess. 3:1; James 5:13--14, 16). It encompasses all the aspects of prayer: submission, confession, petition, intercession, praise, and thanksgiving. Without ceasing means "constant" and defines prayer not as some perpetual activity of kneeling and interceding but as a way of life marked by a continual attitude of prayer.

The New Testament emphasis on the importance of prayer cannot be overstated. Already in 1 Thessalonians, Paul had written, "As we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face" (3:10). Many of Paul's other epistles also indicate the importance of prayer (Rom. 12:12; 1 Cor. 7:5; Eph. 6:18--19; Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2; 2 Thess. 3:1; 1 Tim. 2:8)...

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