Having been raised in church, I’ve heard the phrase, ‘pray without ceasing,’ numerous times. As a kid I would think, gosh, that’s a lot of praying! Then as a teen, naively I would think to myself, how does Pastor get anything else done if he’s praying all the time?! Isn’t it funny how we immediately apply the Bible to church leadership, as if it doesn’t apply to every Christian?
When this plandemic hit and I began to rethink everything, I started praying more than ever before. Truthfully, even while growing up in church, I didn’t have a strong prayer life prior to the last year. Obviously, I knew prayer was important. I’ve heard countless messages on the importance of it. I prayed when I was at church, during altar calls, but that was really it.
Thinking back on my mentality then, I turned it into a monolithic task, when in reality, it’s quite simple. I built prayer up in my head so much that I didn’t think my prayers were good enough, honestly. We’ve all heard the prayers at church that sound so Godly. Some people seem to have a natural knack for praying and can just produce them on the spot. My daddy comes to mind because he’s typically tapped to pray at our family gatherings. He always seems momentarily thrown off guard when approached then he bows his head and says, Father God…then you can feel the Spirit in each word after. It has always fascinated me.
The natural knack for praying? It’s just being willing to do it. There is no special secret. Yes, some people have a way with words but we are all called to pray. God doesn’t give only certain individuals a call to be a prayer warrior. The Bible speaks often of prayer. Just one example of many is Psalms 145:18. “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” The key is ALL who call on Him. Not just those who seem to always know the right way to pray. He is near to all who call on Him sincerely and with a pure heart.
A personal struggle for me has been, ironically enough, is knowing what to say when I pray. For someone who typically always has something to say, I would almost freeze. Alone, not even in public, I would clam up and become speechless when praying by myself. I believe the majority of this had to do with knowing I was supposed to be praying but not truly having the desire to pray. I know how terrible that sounds but I will always be honest. I would hit the highlights of ‘bless my mom and dad and my whole family’ then I was out. Unintentionally, we treat God like a glorified Santa Claus, coming to Him with a wish list bookended with an amen for good measure.
Real, earnest prayer requires humility and genuine desire for the Lord. There is an underlying spirit of brokenness to prayer. We would never come to Him without recognizing our sincere need for Him and His presence in our lives. This brings us back to praying without ceasing. The NIV version of this passage in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” The entire context always matters when considering Scripture. We’re told to rejoice, pray and give thanks ; for this is God’s will for us. This is painting the picture for our success in Jesus. We are to acknowledge Him in every part of our lives. We don’t have to be on our knees in prayer 24/7 to do this. It simply means, because we go to the Lord in prayer regularly and study His word, we consider His way in every action we take.
I still struggle with words at times. Sometimes the words pour out of me like I’m talking to my best friends. Other times my heart is so heavy, that I simply weep. The only word I might get out is Jesus. Is there a better word to utter when you have nothing else to say? Thankfully, Romans 8:26 tells us, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” What an unbelievably comforting promise!
Friend, there is no prayer too simple. No topic off limits. If you still don’t have the words, just say, Jesus, and He will meet you there.
Until next time,