February 19, 2020
I am probably not the only person to ponder the directive in I Thessalonians 5:17 that is often translated “Pray without ceasing.” Various other translations include, “Pray without omission,” “Pray regularly,” “Pray all the time” and “Never stop praying.” They all suggest continuity, consistency and a never-ending process. How is this possible?
The context of I Thessalonians 5:12-22 is about a lifestyle. One cannot carry out all of the directives listed at the same time. “Rejoicing, giving thanks, submitting to the Spirit, staying away from evil” – these should be qualities of our life while we are doing life.
When we put “pray without ceasing” in that perspective, we could conclude that an attitude of prayer should permeate every part of our thinking and actions. It is the idea of having a “God-conscious” awareness as we live the moments and hours of our day. When we are aware of God’s special favor, we rejoice, and when we realize our thoughts could easily follow evil, we stay away from it. All of this thinking is a part of praying, because praying is simply “thinking together with God.”
It probably is not possible to have anxious thoughts to the point of worry and be in an attitude of prayer at the same time. Our anxious thoughts might drive us to pray, and then a sense of God’s presence will bring peace.
It is obvious that I am looking for a way to fulfill the directive to pray without ceasing without having my head bowed and eyes closed – as important as this is for times of concentrated praying. It is a piece of the process. Perhaps praying without ceasing is something like learning to drive a car. After a time, we no longer think about steering, braking, accelerating, watching mirrors – we simply do all of these at the same time as we drive the vehicle. Worth pondering? It was for me.
Pastor Bill Ehmann