Monday, November 25, 2013

Without Ceasing

 "How on earth can I pray all the time?" I asked my mother.  We had been discussing the verses of I  Thessalonians 5:17-18 which reads:  "Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  She reminded me that all prayer does not have to be verbal.  We can pray quietly within our own minds.  This was a new concept for me.  I always thought you had to pray out loud or it didn't count.  In addition, I could not fathom how we could give thanks in all circumstances.  There are times when things were not going well, so was I supposed to be thankful to God for that?  Once again, mother patiently explained to me that we are to be thankful in all circumstances but not necessarily "for" the circumstances.  She helped me understand that prayer is an essential part of our daily lives.  This was just one of our many long conversations while I was studying the catechism around the age of twelve in preparation for church membership.
     As we continued our discussion, we turned our attention to "The Lord's Prayer" which we routinely said in our church service each week.  I wondered about why we had to memorize this prayer and why we said it each week.  My mother told me that it was the perfect prayer.  The Lord Jesus Christ gave it to His disciples as a model of how to come before the Father.  The first words of the prayer offer praise and recognition to God.  Then, it demonstrates our trust in God to meet our daily needs.  From there, we have opportunity to receive forgiveness as well as give it.  Finally, we are asking God to keep us from evil and temptation before ending with giving Him all glory and power.  When we recite this prayer, we are speaking the words given us by our Lord.  My mother explained that if we concentrate on what we are saying rather than merely reciting the prayer it will be fresh for us each time.  All of this made sense to me, and I am so grateful for a mother who took the time to talk with me concerning the things of the Lord.
     Since those early days of discussing prayer with my mother, I have learned to pray without ceasing by using my time wisely.  Instead of turning on the radio when I drive somewhere or talking on a cell phone, I pray for the needs of others.  I praise God for the beauty of the day.  When I go to work, I often run across people who need prayer.  Sitting at my desk, I often lift up a silent prayer for that person that God will meet them in their situation.  While I walk or exercise in the early part of the day, I pray as well.  Getting my exercise has been getting close to the Lord time too.  There are countless opportunities throughout every day to talk with God.
     If truth be told, I still struggle with giving thanks in all circumstances, but I have learned that God never wastes any trial.  He has much to teach us and what Satan means for evil the Lord turns for our good and growth.  With that in mind, I can thank Him.  After all, God is working to mold us into the likeness of His dear Son and that requires many different avenues to bring about change.  The only reason it is painful is because our old flesh wants to cling to sin.
     When it comes to "The Lord's Prayer", I find myself looking forward to it.  One of my favorite phrases is "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."  In light of all that is happening in the world today, this is such an important petition.  We want God's Kingdom to come and for Him to set right our sin sick world.
     Prayer is a privilege.  The sovereign God and Creator allows us to commune with Him on a daily basis.  We have the opportunity to come before His throne with all our praises as well as our petitions.  Prayer is also a great blessing because it changes us as we spend time with God.  If only we would stop wasting time complaining and devote that time to talking with our Lord, we would find relief and answers.  Therefore, let us be a people of prayer and especially during this week of Thanksgiving, but we must not stop there.  Rather, let us be a people of unceasing prayer and watch what God will do as we lift our voices to Him.  Selah!

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