Paul wrote to Timothy, whom he loved desperately, that the following was God’s will:
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray without ceasing,
18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(NKJ – as are all the verses)
“Without Ceasing” means never stopping. That’s a lot of prayer. What’s that about?
What it’s about is that God is wanting to communicate with His people all the time. And He has chosen prayer as being fundamental to that communication. Of course, being God, He can use any method He likes to communicate with us. He can use (as has used) angels, visions, dreams, earthquakes, whatever. But in His divine sovereignty, it would be wise for us to understand that God Himself, Who invented prayer, has established it as the primary means of communication between man and Himself.
Prayer is a remarkable opportunity for us. And it changes things. No wonder our enemy wants to present it to us as a burden and an obligation. There’s things that will only happen in and through prayer, and lots of prayer. It is difficult to cull down all of the examples of prayer into a few representative verses, but here goes:
Gen 20:17 (HEALING AND CHILD BEARING PRAYER) So Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants. Then they bore children;
Num 21:7 (REPENTANT INTERCESSION PRAYER) Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
1 Sam 2:1 (THANKSGIVING PRAYER) And Hannah prayed and said: “My heart rejoices in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD. I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.
II Kin 4:33 (RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD PRAYER) He (Elijah) went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the LORD.
2 Chr 32:24 (PLEADING FOR HEALING PRAYER) In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death, and he prayed to the LORD; and He spoke to him and gave him a sign.
Jonah 2:1 (DELIVERANCE PRAYER) Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly.
Luke 9:29 (TRANSFIGURATION PRAYER) And as He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.
Acts 4:31 (HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM PRAYER) And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
Acts 13:3 (ANOINTING AND MINISTRY LAUNCHING PRAYER) Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
Luke 3:21 (PRAYER THAT OPENS THE HEAVENS) When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened.
James 5:17-18 (CONTROL OVER NATURE PRAYER) Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
History of revival will testify to us that the saints who went before us prayed by the hour, by the day, sometimes by the week, month and year. We might be into fast foods and instant messaging, and if you are driving off a cliff, a simple and urgent “HELP ME LORD!” would be a perfectly structured, complete and wonderful prayer model.
But typically we are not driving off cliffs, and sadly we often count minutes with God as our prayer lives. And we are missing out. And a lifestyle of only five minute toss-up prayers would surely not have us walking in the footsteps of countless successful folks who have walked before us – whose examples the writer of Hebrews tells us to follow.
As Paul said to Timothy (v 4-6) regarding disciplines and structure in our walk:
2 Tim 2:7 – Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.
How much and when and what for, is between you and the Lord. LOTS OF PRAYER, however, has been found to be effective. And no one has ever overdosed on prayer, so no worries there.
God loves us SPENDING our lives on Him, and with Him. It is spent minute by minute, day by day, hour by hour – spent with Him instead of spending it elsewhere, on things that don’t matter, and are not eternal. Past revivals and outpourings typically erupted after some folks determined, and often covenanted that they would pray and pray and pray until something happened. And something always did.
Have you ever noticed that there is simply something different about the persona of someone who maintains an active prayer life? Go figure. Spend time with God and you will start behaving, talking, and walking more godly.
We have to be that people today. We are invited into that kind of pressing in. This is the heart of God about prayer and petition – it has not changed with the transition to NT life:
6 I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent,
7 And give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
God telling us to give Him no rest? Does that sound right? It does if you read Luke 18:1, where the unjust judge is compared, by contrast, to a loving heavenly Father Who invites us to petition and cry out and spend time with Him, in prayer. Nothing will take its place. In fact, the Church has tried everything instead of hours of prayer, and we’ve proven that nothing takes its place. You’d think we’d be praying more.
Alone, in groups, with the understanding of outspoken words, in the Holy Spirit’s heavenly language. Daytime and Noon and at Night. Hands raised. Bodies horizontal. On the floor. In your closet. At the altar. Inside. Outside. They are all good. Like Nike told us years ago: “Just Do It”.
2 Chr 7:14
14 “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
That charge and promise is not to the ones who are not yet His people. That famous verse in 2 Chronicles, delivered by God to Solomon in a dream dialogue, is talking to you and me.
Good nourishment for the soul!
There is something naturally humble in true prayer because it recognizes that the answers are not in self and they are in God. God promises something special to humble, praying people.