What does it mean to pray without ceasing? A few years after I gave my life to Christ, I began to view prayer as a task that I must complete in order to tick the Christian box. I knew in my heart that what I was doing was wrong but the distractions of life made it difficult to give it another thought. We all have distractions and idols in our lives, which have been skillfully designed by Satan to prevent us from spending time with God. In today’s generation, it has become easy for us to go through the day without thinking about God, yet we wonder why many are plagued with anxiety, fear, and depression.
Over the years, I began to experience trials that none of the distractions I tried to please could solve. Then I remembered God. I remembered God in the sense that I was no longer in a rush to leave his presence, almost as though I wanted to have my breakthrough right there. I began to read about Daniel who spent time praying to God three times a day (Daniel 6:10) and I wondered what must he be telling God three times a day. What was so different between me and Daniel? Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always and delight in your faith; be unceasing and persistent in prayer; in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus”.
So there was the difference. Daniel prayed because he loved and delighted (he found satisfaction, pleasure, and joy) in the Lord. Daniel prayed because he knew the will of God for his life. So then, I began to ask myself if I truly loved God. Or was I more in love with my current status as a Christian. If you love someone, spending time with them will never be a problem. Now God is more real in our lives than any other person we love on earth. Jesus Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we could have direct access to him in prayers, yet we chose to ignore him.
What does praying without ceasing look like?
I struggled with this and I am sure many of you have. When we pray without ceasing, it means we must never come to the point in life where we think prayer doesn’t work or it has no effect because we didn’t get what we asked for. The joy of the Lord comes when our desire to communicate with him is not dependent on our circumstances or what we can get. I do not remember the bible specifying how many hours you must pray. What matters is not the eloquence or amount of words you use but rather are the words from the heart true? God wants willing children, not prisoners or lip servers.
Some say “make God the beginning of your day”. I say “make God the center of your day”. In order, words let God be involved in all you do, be constantly (unceasingly) thankful and dependent on him. So, you can pray to God anywhere, anytime, any position and/or any amount of time. The more time you spend with God, you become sensitive to his spirit. Even when you are not speaking to God consciously, your spirit within is always in total surrender to him, which is the main essence of your being.
Over time, as one begins to mature spiritually; you will develop prayer patterns and set times that are formed as a result of discipline. If we look at Daniel, we see that he was so disciplined that he never failed to meet with God three times a day, and I believe God was excited to meet Daniel at those times.
In another example; there was a story of a little girl in Nigeria who would always walk into the chapel to say “Good morning Jesus” before she went to school. This continued for a very long time until one day, this little girl was involved in a car accident and she did not make it to the chapel. The doctors thought she would not survive but she did and they could not understand how. The little girl said while she was laying on the hospital bed, a man in dazzling white robes came to have a conversation with her. Why did you not come to visit me today? The man asked. The little girl said, “because I am sick”. The man immediately smiled and reached out his hands to pull out what looked like shattered glass from her face, brain and other parts of her body. Our God is good, amen!!! This little girl was so disciplined in her time with Jesus that our heavenly Father missed her morning greetings.
I had to learn from this little girl because I am not even that disciplined. My favorite times to pray are around 3 am. It is so funny, my body just wakes up at exactly 3 am without an alarm and I know God is waiting for me, yet sometimes I just go back to bed and say I will pray later. God wants to spend time with us, are we just as willing?
Why is it important to pray without ceasing?
Communicating with God has become the most freeing and joyful thing in my life. It didn’t matter what I was facing in life, the moment I opened my mouth in prayer I could feel Satan cringing. Jesus tells us in Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”. The sinful nature of the flesh is the burden we have to bear while we are on earth, hence Jesus warns us to always pray. When prayer becomes second nature to us;
- We become empowered and protected for the journey before us
- Our faith is strengthened
- We are drawn closer to God, meaning we begin to know the heart of the Father
- Our flesh begins to align with our spirit according to the plans and purposes of God
- Our weapons are sharpened against the kingdom of darkness
- The Holy Spirit begins to reveal the hidden mysteries to us (Deuteronomy 29:29; Jeremiah 33:3; Daniel 2:22; Amos 3:7; Colossians 1:26)
The time to pray is now, not tomorrow. If we are to witness the joy and peace that comes from knowing God, we must discipline ourselves by going to God continuously in prayers. When you struggle, ask the Holy Spirit who is always willing and able to teach and lead you. Amen.