What role does prayer play in your life? Do you pray before meals, even in public? Do you pray when you arise from bed? Do you pray when you pillow your head at night? Do you pray in times of deep sorrow? What about in times of great joy? Prayer should play a significant role in a Christian’s daily life. Yet over the years for many Christians, prayer disappears from their life outside the assembly. Paul said we should “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5 :17). This is not a reference to the opening and closing prayers of the assembly. This is not referring to the prayer before meals. As important as these are, Paul is referring to the importance of prayer in life itself.
Kevin Rhodes in his book “Building Blocks – Strengthening Your Faith” said regarding prayer, “We also minimize prayer’s meaning for us personally. If we do not pray, it is because we have convinced ourselves that we do not need to pray or maybe that we do not think that it will do any good. We worry, but we do not pray (Philippians 4:6). We get depressed because people do not care, but we do not pray (1 Peter 5:7). We have bountiful blessings from above, but we do not pray (James 1:17). The problem is that while we read about these things in the Bible, we often fail to personalize it. When we run into problems at work, we agonize over it but not pray about it. When we feel alone and dejected, we brood and may even cry, but we do not pray. We enjoy blessings every day, but we do not think to pray. While we might think that these would be the times that prayer would come naturally, it does not do so because we have not made prayer our personal natural reaction.” pg. 53.
Many people recognize that their prayer life is not what it needs to be (including this writer -JDS) and they do not know how or where to begin improving it. Making changes in our daily lives regarding prayer is a good place to start.
First, resolve to give thanks before each meal, both privately and in public, at home and at work. While there is no command that says we are to pray before eating, what we do see in Scripture is examples of Jesus giving thanks before eating a meal. “And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.” (Matthew 15:36). See also John 6:23 and Paul in Acts 27:35.
Second, put a note on your bathroom mirror to remind you to pray in the morning. The psalmist said in Psalm 88:13, “But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.” Jesus prayed in the morning, “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35).
Third, before you go to bed at night, go to our heavenly Father in prayer. At all times of the day we should be ready to bow our hearts to God in prayer. Psalm 55 :17, “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.”
With diligence on the part of a Christian, Paul’s exhortation to “pray without ceasing” can be a description of your life. However, such a commitment is not just for a few weeks but for a lifetime.
-Jerry D. Sturgill