1 Thessalonians 5:16
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Why is it that we are to pray without ceasing? Is it because if we keep bugging God enough He’ll cave in and give us what we ask? Our life should be an attitude of prayer. God has offered to do great things in answer to our prayers, but it is not just the big things that he wants us to talk to Him about. We should not be like the relative or friend who only calls when they need a favor.
Prayer is how we keep a working relationship going with our Lord. Prayer is not just about asking God for stuff, but instead it is about communication. Ask any marriage counselor and they will tell you one of the biggest problems in relationships is poor communication. We are in a relationship with God and we need to communicate for that relationship to last.
What do I need to do?
Andrew Murray writes, “The first thing needed to live a life of prayer is undoubtedly an entire sacrifice of one’s life to God’s kingdom and glory. If you try to pray without ceasing because you want to be very pious and good, you will never succeed.”
This is a lot like how Christians should do good works but doing good works doesn’t make you a Christian. A good Christian will pray without ceasing, but praying without ceasing does not make you a good Christian. Just as you can do good works with the wrong attitude, so you can pray without ceasing with the wrong attitude.
In a relationship a person can communicate, but if they only communicate without listening or if they are bossy in their communication, the relationship is not going to be strengthened. Just so, we can pray without ceasing and not strengthen our relationship with God because we do not value the relationship, only the communication.
Praying without ceasing is a heart attitude and it should not be replicated without true love for God. In short, we should have a life of prayer because we want to talk to God, not because it is the “Christian” thing to do.
Consider one final quote from Murray. I think this sums up the balance we should have between prayer and works perfectly. “Our true aim must not be to work a great deal and pray just enough to keep the work right. We should pray a great deal and then work enough for the power and blessing obtained in prayer to find its was through us to people.”
When we pray, we don’t ask the genie in a bottle for a wish. Instead, often God supplies us with the power to do what we otherwise would be incapable of doing. And when we accomplish this task, we need to praise God and give him the glory.
Adapted from With Christ in the School of Prayer