How The Heck Do We Pray Without Ceasing?

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

My gut reaction when I read this scripture is, “What?!!? Pray without ceasing? How am I supposed to do that?”

Because let’s face it, life is busy. We’ve got meetings to attend, kids pretending to be monkeys climbing all over us, yards that are beginning to resemble rainforests, school projects to complete, and a million other things going on. How in the world are we supposed to do all these things and also pray without ceasing?

I tend to compartmentalize my prayer life. It’s the thing I do in the morning while I read my Bible and when I really need God’s help with something. But that’s not praying without ceasing. How am I supposed to pray without ceasing while in the middle of a pastoral meeting? That could look kind of weird if you ask me.

“Stephen, what do you think about this?”

“Huh? Oh sorry, I was just praying without ceasing. Could you start over and I’ll try to pray and listen at the same time.”

Recently I read some helpful words regarding this scripture. The great theologian Charles Hodge said:

I think that in my childhood I came nearer to conforming to the apostle’s injunction: “Pray without ceasing,” than in any other period of my life. As far back as I can remember, I had the habit of thanking God for everything I received, and asking him for everything I wanted. If I lost a book, or any of my play things, I prayed that I might find it. I prayed walking along the streets, in school and out of school, whether playing or studying. I did not do this in obedience to any prescribed rule. It seemed natural. I thought of God as an everywhere—present Being, full of kindness and love, who would not be offended if children talked to Him. I knew he cared for sparrows. I was as cheerful and happy as the birds and acted as they did.

I love the childlike dependence on God expressed in this quote. When he lost one of his play things, he prayed. When he received something, he thanked God. He simply knew that God would not be offended if his children talked to him.

I want to be more like that. When I sit down to enjoy a cup of coffee, I want to give thanks. When I lose something, I want to ask for help to find it. When I feel like my kids are driving me crazy, I want to plead with God for patience. I want prayer to be woven in and out of my life and sprinkled throughout my day.

God is my Father. He won’t be offended when I ask him for things and he will be delighted when I thank him for things.

What about you? What are some practical ways to pray without ceasing?

  • Elaine

    Great post, Stephen! Thanks for the encouragement.

    Probably some of the sweetest time of prayer have been when I was up with a child at night, praying for his salvation, praying for his future, or his healing…I'm learning there is always something or someone to lift up in prayer or to thank the Lord for.

    • Stephen Altrogge

      I agree Elaine! Some of the best times seem to be unplanned.

  • daywalt95

    Wonderful insight, Stephen. Love the quote by Charles Hodge. I try to pray without ceasing by allowing my thoughts to wander to a place of prayer all throughout my day. I am a ministry assistant for 3 pastors and my email and phone are flooded with prayer requests daily. When I get those (or see ones on Twitter & Facebook) I try to silently pray in my mind for those requesting prayer…Or even praises & thanksgivings to the Lord as well. It doesn't always work, but I try nevertheless. Sure do appreciate you and your ministry! -Tracy Hodges

  • benthorp

    A guy I heard speak once suggested using trigger events and places to stimulate prayer – so every time the phone rings say a quick prayer before answering, or every time you walk through a particular door, pray for a specific thing or person.

  • http://www.SpiritualKlutz.com Spiritual Klutz

    Great word. Thanks for your honesty. I feel better about asking God to help me find my keys.

  • Joan

    Why did you find it necessary to title your blog as you did? Maybe you are too young to know how that sounds, or maybe you are trying to be cool? I don't want to be argumentive but just wanted you to know that the method can obscure the message. Thank you for receiving this in the spirit it was given.

  • http://www.thegloryofthegrind.wordpress.com John Harbison

    I got from Michael Hyatt the idea of carrying a small glass pebble in my pocket and every time I become aware of it to give thanks for the circumstances I am presently in or pray for a specific concern.

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  • Mapitsi

    My understanding is that Praying without ceasing means we should not pray and forget about what we've prayed for. We should be persistent, keep the faith, align our thoughts and words with God's promises. Consistency is the key……………