Unceasing Prayer- What Makes It Possible and What Makes It Powerful |
christian speaker, writer, christian blog, south dakota blog, speaker, sojourner, Cindy Krall
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I recently read this verse:


“Pray without ceasing…”1 Thessalonian 5:16


The hamster on the wheel in my brain started its spin, and I began to ask myself some questions. What does it look like to pray without ceasing? Is it even possible? A medium dive into this took me down several paths. Namely––


Why do we pray?


How do we pray?


Who enables us to pray? 


What makes prayer powerful?


If the same hamster is parked in your head, grab my hand, and let’s dive together.


Why do we pray?


#1-We may pray to worship and praise God.


When our prayers are characterized by worship and praise, we are taking the time to dwell on what we love about God. What do we admire about Him? What do we adore?


One way I love to praise God is to focus on His names. 


Jehovah Jireh: The God who provides.


Jehovah Raphe: The God who heals.


Jehovah Shalom: The God of our peace.


Prayers that praise and worship God grant us needed perspective. When we focus on the greatness of God, we are reminded of just who it is that loves us and is for us.


#2-Another reason we may pray is to petition and intercede on behalf of someone else.


1 Timothy 2:1-4 says this:
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”


When we pray on behalf of others, it is pleasing to God.


#3-We may pray in the interest of supplication.


The word supplicate means to ask for something earnestly, to beg for in humility. 


These may be the prayers that find us face down on the floor or quietly shedding a tear on our pillow. Prayers of supplication reflect a heart that knows the situation cannot be made better without help from God. 


Prayers of supplication may marry themselves to prayers of petition or intercession. Perhaps our pleas are not for ourselves but for someone else. 


#4-Another reason we pray may be to give thanks. 


Sometimes practicing gratitude looks like taking time to jot down something we’re grateful for in a journal, or take a photo, or record a memo on one’s phone. Later, we can go back and look at the gratitude we have cataloged. Remembrance is a God-given tool and one that He encourages us to utilize. 


#5- And the last reason we may pray is because of spiritual warfare. 


The sixth chapter from the book of Ephesians has plenty to teach us about spiritual warfare. The first and most important takeaway is this…it exists. Spiritual warfare is real. If ever we had good reason to pray without ceasing, it would be because of the reality of spiritual warfare. 


How do we pray?


#1 One way we can pray is “On the Move.” 


We can pray throughout our daily activities. 


Years ago, a portion of scripture helped me realize how much of an “on the move” kind of God we have.


Now, on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.” Luke 17:11-14


Did you catch that?


ON HIS WAY to Jerusalem 

AS HE was going into a village

AS THEY WENT, they were cleansed


Life happens on the move. Ministry happens on the move. We can pray effective prayers while we are on the move.


#2 We can pray when we are still.


These are the prayers we pray when we’re not on the run. We’re far more likely to not just speak to God during still prayers but to also hear from God. He tends to whisper, not shout. Stillness helps us discern that whisper. 


#3 We can pray with words.


It seems evident that the best way to pray is to pray with words, yet in a moment, we’ll see that words aren’t always necessary. 


When we choose to communicate with God in words, it can bring about healthy self-discovery. Finding the right words for what we are feeling, thinking, fearing, hoping to believe, or NOT believe is an exercise for our benefit, not God’s. 


God already knows exactly what we need, but our expression of those needs has the two-fold benefit of being self-revelatory and fostering intimacy with Him.


#4 We can pray wordless prayers. 


Prayers without words are also recognized by God. Sometimes a wordless prayer sneaks out of us in the form of a sigh, the leak of a tear, or the drop of our chin. God cherishes those prayers too.  


#5 Our prayers can be accompanied by a discipline or structured activity.


Sometimes a great way to pray is to do it as we incorporate another structured practice like fasting, journaling, or even a flow in yoga. 

Who enables us to pray?


The third aspect of unceasing prayer has to do with its sustainability. 


Who enables us to pray? 


Can we really pray without ceasing?


What kind of striving enables us to engage in that kind of prayer? Or is the “secret to the sauce” that there is no striving if prayer is to become an unceasing part of our lives? 


Can constant prayer become as simple and reflexive as breathing? The answer is yes… and no.


No, it can’t, at least not if we think we will strong arm unceasing prayer into existence.


Yes, it can, but only if we surrender ourselves to the truth that constant communication with God is not possible when our hearts aren’t where they need to be. 


Confession. My heart is rarely where it needs to be. Completely pure. Focused on God. Desiring obedience to Him over my own wishes.


But here’s the good news. The clean heart we desire (the kind of heart that is drawn to unceasing prayer) is a heart that God can create.


“Create in me a clean heart Oh, God. Renew a right Spirit within me.”


David prayed that prayer, and we can too. The prayer for a heart that God will renew opens the door for a heart that desires constant communication with God. 


What makes prayer powerful?


A clean heart makes unceasing prayer possible. A believing heart makes it powerful.


I don’t want to mistakenly communicate that if we pray unceasingly and believingly, we’ll end up with prayers so powerful that we’ll be able to direct the outcomes.


That is not what believing prayer is about.  


Did Jesus say to the bleeding woman, “Your faith has made you well?” (Mark 5:34)


Yes. He did.


Did Jesus say to his disciples, “I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” (Matthew 21:22)


Yes. He did.


Did Jesus say to the Roman Centurion who begged for healing for his servant, “Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened.” (Matthew 8:13)


Yes. He did.


The Old and New Testaments are full of stories that illustrate just how important belief is. 


But the Bible is also full of another truth:


God is in charge, and we are not.


God is not a vending machine in which we muster up a greater faith in order to insert our figurative quarter and receive our desired snack.


God’s ways are not our ways. They are higher, which often means that our answered prayers look nothing like we imagined they would.


The most important thing about believing prayer is that our belief isn’t focused on a particular outcome but rather on a particular person. 


The person of God. 


We CAN pray confident, bold, believing prayers. Still, that belief must not be more attached to particular outcomes than it is to the One in whom are prayers are directed.


There are many reasons to pray and many ways to go about it. Thankfully God is the One who enables us to do it unceasingly and powerfully!

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