Don't Lose Heart
When do you pray? On Sundays? Before meals? Just before bed? Well, those are not the only times to pray. In fact, the Bible tells us, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Do you get that? "Pray without ceasing." That means all the time, without giving up.
In Luke 18, Jesus tells an interesting story with this same thought in mind. It's a parable of an unjust judge and a persistent, nagging widow. The judge is very hard and tough, and he won't give in to her request. But the woman keeps knocking on his door, and it just drives him nuts! He says, "All right! I just want to get rid or her, so I'll do it!" Jesus tells us this story not to say that God is like the wicked judge. Rather, in contrast to that judge, God is willing to give, and we ought to keep asking.
Note the preface in verse 1: "Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart," or, literally, get discouraged. You have a heavenly Father who loves you, so you ought to continue to pray and not give up. You ought to keep at it, for He says, "Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?" (vv. 6-7).
Pray without ceasing. Pray on every occasion. Why? Well, first, it's a command. But also because of the enemy. Peter said, "Be sober, be vigilant" (that is, be on guard, be on the lookout) "for your adversary the devil walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
Joshua was conned by the Gibeonites because he failed to pray (see Joshua 9). David prayed when he went out to the Philistines (see 2 Samuel 5). But what if he hadn't prayed and went out presumptuously? Or if he went out at the wrong time and it wasn't directed by God? It would have meant his defeat.
And so prayer is our secret weapon. As the old saying goes, "Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees." I don't care how weak you are. You get on your knees and deliver that burden over to God, and that shakes the devil up. Because now it's not resting on your shoulders, you've transferred the burden over to God's shoulders -- and He can carry it a lot easier than you can!
But I don't want to leave this discussion without pointing out that 1 Thessalonians 5:18 stresses thanksgiving: "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
Thanksgiving is pretty low on our list of importance for prayer. A major newsmagazine once reported that among those who pray, the majority do it superficially, asking God for things rather than giving thanks, seeking forgiveness or interceding for others. And listen to their conclusion: "God, for some, is simply viewed as a divine Santa Claus."
Is that how you view Him? Do you only communicate with Him when you want something? Don't forget that He is the holy and sovereign Lord of all creation -- God Almighty.
But also, He is our gracious, merciful, and loving Father. So "pray without ceasing"! Don't lose heart, because His ears are always open to your prayers.