Practicing Ceaseless Prayer
I remember bombarding my 4th grade Sunday-school teacher with questions about the verse, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Her answer only increased my quandary: “It means to stay in an 'attitude' of prayer” was her firm reply.
“An attitude of prayer”? I couldn't reconcile her answer with my struggle as I read and re-read this verse. What is an “attitude of prayer”...what is ceaseless praying...what is God asking of us in this verse? I really wanted to understand. I didn't receive satisfaction for this issue until I came across a book that is now one of my dearest treasures, The Practice of the Presence of God. This little classic contains conversations and letters, on the subject of prayer, written by Brother Lawrence, a 17th century devoted follower of Christ.
Through Brother Lawrence's testimony I began to understand that my approach to prayer was far too mechanical. The light bulb came on–I realized the “attitude of prayer” my Sunday-school teacher spoke of, was actually the practice of continual fellowship with God. Ceaseless prayer through verbal and non-verbal communication with Christ is simply the practice of abiding in His presence. What an awesome realization this was for me!
I think at times we can become so caught up with the specific “how-to's” of prayer, that we forget what prayer is. Prayer is more than a diagrammed monologue. Prayer is the uniting of my heart to God's. It is worship, adoration, crying out in need, and telling Him my thoughts about the day. Prayer involves asking questions–lots of questions–and waiting for His response. It is sharing every moment with Him, acknowledging His presence and activity in my life–24/7.
These are some of Brother Lawerence's instructions that are dear to me,
“I have found that we can establish ourselves in a sense of the presence of God by continually talking with Him. It is simply a shameful thing to quit conversing with Him to think of trifles and foolish things. . . we must become accustomed to a familiar, humble and very affectionate conversation with the Lord Jesus. You must stop your spirit from wandering from the Lord no matter what the circumstances are. You must make your heart a spiritual temple, a temple where you can go to adore Him incessantly.”
As we focus on prayer, consider what it means to “abide in Him.” Perhaps you can read John 15:1-11 prayerfully today and ask Him to give you a more keen understanding of what it means to abide in continual communication with Him. Share with us some of the ways you've learned to abide in His presence through prayer.
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