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How to Pray without Ceasing
By Kelly O’Dell Stanley
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV).
Impossible, right? Maybe in the olden days, when every task directly affected your family’s survival—of course they prayed, because if the crop died, they’d starve. If someone got sick there was no medicine to help. Life was dangerous and fragile, and people weren’t distracted by social media and cell phones. But today? Who could be expected to keep their mind on God at all times? Surely God wouldn’t expect that of us, because He knows more than anyone how flawed we are, and how short our attention spans are.
Except that nowhere in the Bible is there an asterisk after that verse that says, “*unless you’re really busy.”
Here’s the good news. Not only is it possible to pray without ceasing, but it’s possible to do so without making any significant changes to your schedule or time commitments. It’s all about shifting your thought process and turning everyday moments into prayer. Keep that connection open and talk to God as you go through your day. Here is how you can pray without ceasing:
Begin with gratitude.
Psalm 100:4 says “enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”
In other words, start by telling God what you’re thankful for. Prayer doesn’t have to be asking for something; it can simply be thanking Him from your heart for what He has already done.
Incorporate prayer into everyday chores.
Let your everyday tasks become acts of worship by turning them into times of prayer. As you fold laundry, pray for each family member—and then if your laundry piles are as high as mine, and you’re done praying but not done folding, branch out from there. Pray for your child’s soccer teammates, for the teachers standing in front of your children’s classrooms, for the partner who works hard to pay the bills, for health to stay active, for the workplaces where the clothes are worn. Or simply give thanks for the warmth of the home where you relax in those pajamas.
Sing a song of praise.
“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise” (James 5:13).
Often, we think of prayer as what to do when we need God to fix something or when we’re unhappy. But the Bible encourages us to pray at all times. Try listening to worship music. As you sing along, offer it to God as your prayer. Or, better yet, make up your own song along the way. Nobody is listening but Him, so don’t worry if you’re out of tune.
Stop talking once in awhile. Instead, just listen.
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7).
The number (or quality) of words you use in prayer doesn’t matter, because prayer is about God, not about us. Allow yourself to contemplate the nearness of God. Trust that He is your constant companion. Don’t monopolize the dialogue, but spend some of your time just being, simply sitting and resting in His presence. And keep in mind that the best conversations are two-sided, but you won’t hear anything if you never stop to listen.
Editor’s Note: The following was adapted from How to Pray without Ceasing by Kelly O’Dell Stanley. To read the full article, follow this link.