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What does it mean to pray without ceasing? Is it even possible? This blog post explains 8 easy ways to pray more throughout the day.
Paul gives us some bold instructions in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18 (NKJV). He says:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Sounds pretty difficult, don’t you think?
Is Paul’s instruction even possible??
I mean, how can we always rejoice in a world with so much suffering? How can we give thanks even when things don’t go our way? And how can we possibly pray without ceasing when we have so much going on?
I plan to do a series on each part of this verse, so if that’s something you’d be interested in, let me know in the comments!
But, for now, let’s focus on that pray without ceasing verse.
Pray without ceasing.1 Thessalonians 5:17:
To understand what this verse is really asking us to do, let’s first define some basic terms:
What does it mean to pray?
Simply put, to pray means to communicate with God.
What does the word ‘cease’ mean?
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, cease means ‘to come to an end’. In other words, it means to stop. So ‘ceasing’ means ‘stopping’.
So, what does it mean to pray without ceasing?
Let’s put it together in a simple equation (don’t worry it’s not real math!):
To pray without ceasing = Prayer + not + cease
= Communicate with God + not + stop
And now in simple English: Talk to God and do not stop.
When put like this, to pray without ceasing seems more like a wonderful invitation than a daunting task.
It’s an opportunity to spend (more) time with our heavenly Father and let Him guide us throughout the day.
I like the way the easy reading version puts it. It says “never stop praying”.
And that’s really all it is!
Why should we pray without ceasing?
Here are two of many reasons to pray more often:
1. Because prayer is important to the life of a Christian
As Christians, prayer is extremely important to incorporate into our daily lives.
Because: prayer helps us to build a relationship with God.
The more we pray, the stronger that relationship becomes. The stronger that relationship, the easier we can fight temptation, the stronger our faith becomes, and the better equipped we are to face life’s challenges, knowing and trusting that God is in control.
Therefore, building a relationship is particularly important when we are young.
Ecclesiastes 12 starts with this verse:
Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them”– Ecclesiastes 12:1 (NKJV)
The easy reading version puts it like this:
Remember your Creator while you are young, before the bad times come — before the years come when you say, “I have wasted my life.”– Ecclesiastes 12:1 (ERV)
This verse tells us not to wait till we’re old to prioritize our relationship with God.
Yes, seeking a better relationship with God is always a good thing, at any age. But in those years of life when we can be a little clueless about the way forward (like in our youth or more specifically our twenties), a relationship with God allows Him to guide us and sets the foundation for a great relationship for all the years to come.
2. Because this is God’s will for us
Another reason we should pray more often is that this is God’s will for us.
At the end of all Paul’s seemingly difficult instructions is a verse we sometimes overlook:
…for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.Ecclesiastes 5:18 (NKJV)
Yes, this verse is found in Paul’s letter to the church of Thessalonia, but does that mean it doesn’t apply to us?
Of course not!
The bible says this:
All Scripture is given by God. And is useful for teaching and for showing people what is wrong in their lives. It is useful for correcting faults and teaching the right way to live. Using the Scriptures, those who serve God will be prepared and will have everything they need to do every good work.2 Timothy 3:16-17
All of us can benefit from every part of God’s word.
So if praying continually is what God wants for us (and He always wants what’s best), then we can feel confident that we can only benefit by following those instructions in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
Now that you know what it means to pray without ceasing, and why you should, let’s dive right into the good stuff.
How to pray without ceasing
1. Get rid of any false beliefs about prayer
First things first.
In order to pray more often, there are some important things to learn (and unlearn) about prayer.
I think this is key!
So, if you only remember one tip, remember this one. Simply knowing it will help you to pray more.
There are some things we learn, consciously, or unconsciously that can change the way we think about prayer.
I’m bringing this up because I believe that some of these ‘things’ we learn lead us to believe that we don’t have the time to or simply can’t pray as often as we’d like.
These false beliefs range from where we can pray to what we can pray about.
It’s important that we get rid of these false beliefs about prayer that are limiting our prayer life. You can read about some common misconceptions about prayer in my blog post: 5 beliefs about prayer to reject when learning how to pray
2. Set specific times to pray
Having dedicated times to pray is a great way to ensure you get some form of prayer every single day.
Two great times to do so are at the beginning and end of your day.
Make a habit of praying every morning when you wake up and every night before bed.
Praying in the morning allows us to start our day right. It gives us the opportunity to start the day with gratitude by thanking God and to seek His guidance for navigating the day ahead.
When praying in the morning, remember to mention some key things:
- Give thanks to God for waking you up and for his mercy
- Ask for:
- the strength to avoid temptations.
- His guidance as you plan your day
- for protection throughout the day.
- the help to be kind and patient
- Pray about anything the day holds that makes you feel anxious and even for those things that make you feel excited.
Praying at the end of the day is another opportunity to show gratitude to God, to reflect on the day, and to ask for forgiveness for any way you may have gone wrong.
At night, don’t wait till you’re too tired to pray. Before you climb into bed have a chat with God. In your prayer you can:
- Thank Him for the day and His protection
- Talk to Him about the good parts
- Talk to Him about the bad parts
- Ask Him:
- to protect you as you sleep
- to forgive you for where you fell short
- for the courage and guidance to do better the next day
You can also use these times to pray for other people! But we’ll talk about that a little later.
3. Create and respond to prayer triggers
Life can get busy.
There are work duties or assignments (or both), side hustles, money, and relationships to think about. And these things can be time consuming and stressful all on their own.
So how can we possibly find the time to think about prayer?
One way is to create prayer triggers.
Prayer triggers are events, words, signs, colors, music … anything that can remind you to pray. You create your own based on what you see every day.
Here are some tips for choosing prayer triggers. Choose something:
- you see often but not too often (you don’t want to get overwhelmed)
- that doesn’t occur with another trigger (only one trigger at a time! But if multiple are happening at once, know that God is definitely prompting you to pray)
Examples of prayer triggers that help you to pray more often
Apart from your own triggers, here are some basic ones I think everyone should have:
Before you eat
This is one I always forget! Whenever you’re about to eat, whisper a prayer to thank God for food and the ability to eat it.
For every mood and feeling
James 5:13-14 says this:
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
This tells us that we should pray and praise God regardless of how good or bad we feel.
You can also pray when you:
- can’t sleep
- forget something
- leave home
- return home
- drive or are in some form of transportation
- notice someone else is sad or having a bad day
- have a near accident ( not just vehicular)
4. Pray for others
You should always pray for your family and friends — and that’s something you probably already do — but your prayers shouldn’t be limited to the people you know and like.
You can pray for anyone and everyone: for those people you are close to and those you’re not. For the people that are easy to love and those that aren’t so easy to love.
1 Timothy 2:1 (ERV) tells us to pray for all people.
This means you can even pray for a complete stranger.
You may notice that they look like things are rough, even if it’s just on that particular day. You may not want to ask them about it (and they might not want to tell you) but you can always pray for them.
Here are some other examples of people you can pray for:
- The sick (James 5:15): We never like to hear that loved ones are sick. So when you hear about or see someone who isn’t well, pray for them. Remember that they’re someone else’s loved one too. You can pray for healing, for strength, for faith, and for comfort.
- Leaders (1 Timothy 2:2): The leaders of your country, workplace, and school need prayers. Ask God to guide them and to give them wisdom. The decisions and choices they make affect you and others.
- Your enemies (Luke 6:27-28): This is the one that seems the most difficult, which is probably why the Bible says it so many times. Pray for your enemies. Those people who think it’s okay to treat others terribly are the ones who need the most prayer. Even if you don’t notice a change, remember that sincere prayer is effective. Things are working behind the scenes that you may not notice.
Everyone can use some prayer.
5. Use a prayer list
A prayer list is a great tool to help you remember all the people and things you need to pray for. You can keep it in your purse, at your desk, or anywhere you can see it easily.
Whenever you see it, pray for someone or something on your list.
6. Memorize bible verses
Learning bible verses is always a good idea but it’s particularly useful when trying to pray more.
Learn key verses of prayers and promises in the Bible. Whenever the appropriate situation arises, you will find it easy to recite the verse aloud or in your head.
For example, whenever I feel scared, I always remember Psalm 23 (KJV), particularly the line which says: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
It reminds me that God is with me and I have no reason to be afraid.
Here are some great promises and prayers to memorize:
- Jeremiah 29:11
- Exodus 14:14
- Psalm 37:23 – 24
- Psalm 32:8
- Isaiah 41:10
- Matthew 11:28 – 29
- Phillippians 4:6 – 7
- Matthew 6:9-13
- Psalm 23
- Psalm 91
And there are so many more! Learn as many as you like.
7. Learn some gospel songs
I’m sure you’ve experienced getting a song stuck in your head.
Sometimes it’s just one line, over and over and over.
This happens because our brains easily recall song lyrics. Sometimes we can sing a song from years back without even having to think about the words.
You can use this to your advantage when learning how to pray more. Here’s what to do:
- Learn the lyrics of some gospel songs, especially the lines that are like prayers. You can choose contemporary songs or hymns.
- Whenever those lyrics come to mind, just sing or pray the words.
It’s easy, enjoyable and effective way to incorporate more prayer into your day.
8. Slow Down
When you’re constantly moving from one task to another, it can be hard to remember to pray.
Therefore, it’s important to slow down from time to time.
Hit pause for 1 or 2 minutes and take time to breathe. Remember to say hello to God.
When we’re trying to manage a busy schedule and have so many responsibilities, it can be easy to forget to talk to God. But the bible says we should pray without ceasing! We benefit in so many ways when we do.
You may find that prayer can be hard to incorporate into every aspect of your life but with the eight tips above, it’ll become a lot easier.