“Always Keep On Praying.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 TLB)
I absolutely love kids! Probably because I’m on a life mission to never grow up! But children just have a way of making what seems so complicated, quite simple. Now, Tatiana is only four years old, but she’s already teaching her parents quite a bit! She often announces, “Let’s pray!” And as wonderful as that sounds, truth is, she doesn’t always pick the best or most convenient times to pray. Dad might be studying since he’s finishing school or Mom might be involved with her students since she’s an at-home tutor. But like it or not, that doesn’t stop Tatiana from screaming, “Let’s pray!” Whether you’re ironing, watching television, walking the dog, or answering the telephone, when Tatiana yells, “Let’s pray”, it is by no means a request, or suggestion, but a command! She grabs your hand, closes her eyes, and she certainly expects you to do the same. No matter what’s going on at the moment, she’s fully expecting Mom or Dad to drop whatever they’re doing to pray. Her mom told me, “I don’t dare tell her, ‘Oh, later honey, I’m too busy right now. Because she will simply say once again, ‘I said, let’s pray!’” You see, Tatiana is only four, but you know what? I think she’s already got the right idea concerning the importance and priority of prayer.
But can we be honest? Truth is, many of us, myself included, have a bad habit of waiting until we “need God” to pray. As long as everything is going well, there’s no doctors reports to make us cry out to the Great Physician, no marital woes that have us running to the altar, no appliance break-downs that threaten the safety of our savings account, no children robbing banks or stealing cars, no bills that are making us nervous about what we’re going to do etc…we’re good. We can talk to God not so often, and even then, quite briefly. Which is why I’m fully persuaded God allows a lot of the stuff we endure to come our way on purpose, because it sends us running right back to the prayer phone to dial up heaven again! At least in trouble He gets to hear our voice!
Psalm 18:6, “In my distress [when I seemed surrounded] I called upon the Lord And cried to my God for help; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry for help came before Him, into His very ears.” (AMP) It’s a wonderful comfort to know that when we’re in distress we can cry out to God and He hears us, and even answers us, but should that be the only time He hears us? I think not. Can you imagine being in a relationship with someone, but the only time you hear from them is when they need something from you? How special would you feel? How appreciated would you feel? How taken for granted and abused would you feel? More importantly, how much longer would you really stay in such a relationship? Thank God He doesn’t treat us the way we have a tendency to treat Him!
At the end of a passage on spiritual warfare and defeating our enemy, the Bible says in Ephesians 6:18 “…pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (NIV). Did you catch all those instructions? “…pray in the Spirit ON ALL OCCASIONS…” Not just when you’re in trouble, but ON ALL OCCASIONS! It’s prayer all day, every day, at any time of the day, anywhere and around anybody! That reminds me a lot of the admonishment in our opening text of 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.” It’s staying in contact with the Lord at; “All occasions, with all kinds of prayers, and all kinds of requests.” That’s praying whether you get the job or lose the job; whether you get married or get divorced; whether you get the house or lose the apartment; whether you purchase the car or ride the bus; whether your heart fails or your hair flops! We need to develop an ‘IN OR OUT OF SEASON” type of prayer life! Pray when everything works IN our favor; and pray just the same when nothing works OUT in our favor! We are to pray on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers, and all kinds of requests, because prayer is our LIFESTYLE, not our LIFELINE!
The word ‘lifestyle’ is defined as, ‘the way in which one lives.’
But ‘lifeline’ is defined as, ‘a rope or line thrown to rescue someone in difficulties; a means of escape for someone stuck or in trouble.’
You see, as believers, prayer is our lifestyle, it’s just the way we live from day-to-day. Prayer is our lifestyle, it’s our oxygen, it’s our breath! We treat it as something of which if we should be deprived of it, we may as well stop breathing altogether. When it’s your lifestyle it’s a part of your entire life. It’s the core of who you are. It’s not something you do for Sunday morning invocation; it’s not what you do over your food before you eat; and it’s certainly not what you do when you’re stuck and in trouble; it’s what you do ALL the time; on ALL occasions! Prayer is not our lifeline, only to be used when we need to cry out to God for Him to throw us a line of His strength in our weakness to draw us out of the difficulty that nine times out of ten we put ourselves in, in the first place. Prayer is not our means of escape from trouble. As believers, we have to go back to the heart of our relationship with God, and it’s in our communication with Him through prayer, ALL the time, about ALL things, because that’s our LIFESTYLE!
Now, let’s take a look at those 2 Scriptures in varying translations:
“With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.” (AMP)
“Pray all the time. Ask God for anything in line with the Holy Spirit’s wishes. Plead with him, reminding him of your needs, and keep praying earnestly for all Christians everywhere.” (TLB)
“You must pray at all times as the Holy Spirit leads you to pray. Pray for the things that are needed. You must watch and keep on praying. Remember to pray for all Christians.” (NLV)
“In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (MSG)
1 Thessalonians 5:17:
“be unceasing and persistent in prayer” (AMP)
“Always keep on praying” (TLB)
“Never stop praying.” (NLV)
“…pray all the time…” (MSG)
Notice, we’re charged and challenged to pray all the time, for everyone, because prayer is essential! And the word ‘essential’ is defined as, ‘absolutely necessary.’ We’re to always pray, never stop praying and pray all the time, because it’s absolutely necessary! That sounds a lot like prayer being more than just “I’m in trouble Lord, HELP!” Or praying because we have a few moment’s to spare. Or praying simply for show, it’s prayer night, and I want to be seen for either praying the best, the loudest or the longest; or at least have my attendance accounted for that I made it out to prayer. Yet, the Bible commands us to Pray At All Times, Everywhere, for Everyone, Without Ceasing!
The sad thing however, about us as believers, is that we tend to have a prayer compartment in our life. We pray in the morning, or maybe in the evening, or over meals. We have prayer meetings. But I think God wants us to take prayer out of that compartment and learn prayer as a lifestyle, not just as an occasional appointment, or for the moment 911 lifeline. Even little Tatiana understands that. She’s all day long going around saying, “Let’s pray. Let’s talk to God.” And if a child can do this, what is the excuse for adults who don’t?
The Spirit may be trying to prompt you in that way many times. It’s not a little child. It’s the Holy Spirit that’s saying, “Let’s pray. Let’s pray.” He’s trying to initiate it. Pray in the Spirit. But we’re so busy! We’re running on our list, our schedule, our program, our agenda. We can’t hear His promptings. And we need to be real careful about being so busy that we ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit to pray and even to intercede for others!
Can you imagine how differently Peter’s story may have turned out, if people ignored the prompting to pray? Listen: James had just been executed and Herod was planning to kill Peter in the morning. Now, you’d think Peter would have been up all night praying, but he wasn’t. The Bible says he was SLEEPING! (Acts 12:6, “Then the time came for Herod to bring him out for the kill. That night, even though shackled to two soldiers, one on either side, PETER SLEPT LIKE A BABY” MSG). Now, I’ve heard of confidence in God, but I honestly thought Peter was stone-crazy! I know for a fact I would’ve flipped out! So where did Peter get such faith? The Bible says, right before Peter’s peaceful, sleep-like-a-baby nap: “Peter therefore was kept in prison: BUT PRAYER WAS MADE WITHOUT CEASING OF THE CHURCH UNTO GOD FOR HIM” (Acts 12:5).
But you have to see in the various translations how these intercessors REALLY PRAYED for Peter: The Amplified Bible says, “…FERVENT PRAYER for him was PERSISTENTLY made…”; The Message Bible says, “All the time …Peter was under heavy guard…the church prayed for him MOST STRENUOUSLY”; The New Living Translation says, “…the church prayed VERY EARNESTLY…”; And the Contemporary English Version says, “While Peter was being kept in jail, the church NEVER STOPPED PRAYING to God for him.”
Now I understand why Peter could sleep like a baby! If I had intercessors going before God on my behalf doing warfare in prayer “FERVENTLY”, “PERSISTENTLY”, “STRENUOUSLY”, “VERY EARNESTLY” and above all to “NEVER STOP PRAYING”, I COULD SLEEP LIKE A BABY TOO! In the midst of fierce enemy attacks and bondage, I too would be catching some serious Z’s…
People of God, certainly we must MAKE time to pray to God on our own behalf, but never forget your brothers and sisters, and even those who are unsaved! They all need your prayers of intercession at all times! Your Unceasing Prayers Are Vital to You and Others! So Never Stop Praying! Who knows who will be saved, delivered, healed, made whole, just because of your prayers? Who knows who may be encouraged, inspired and empowered because of your prayers? Who knows who may finally get right because of your prayers? Who knows who will be saved behind prison walls; healed in the emergency room, before ever going to the triage nurse; delivered before they walk past the next liquor store; marriage rekindled; wayward children returned home; or diagnosis reversed, ALL BECAUSE YOU OBEYED THE PROMPTING TO PRAY WHICH IS YOUR LIFESTYLE, NOT YOUR LIFELINE!
Your Prayers Are Powerful! Therefore, Make Them Your Lifestyle, Not Just a Lifeline For When You’re in Trouble!
Let’s go just a tad bit further: In the Old Testament, Nehemiah, one of the great spiritual leaders accomplished so much for the Lord. He was sort of a grownup Tatiana because of his consistent prayer life. It talks about it in chapter 2, verse 4 when he was in a very important meeting. He says, “…I prayed to the God of heaven and I answered the king…” (NIV). Right there he’s in that meeting with the King! He’s under heavy pressure, yet he says, “…I prayed to the God of heaven…”(NIV).
In chapter 4, verse 9, he says, “But we prayed to our God and posted a guard…” (NIV). Nehemiah prays, he has people in his company who prays, and he’s even strategic while in prayer, wise enough to know to post a guard!
Chapter 5, verse 19, Nehemiah’s thinking about his income and what he ought to be getting. He says, “Remember me with favor, my God…” (NIV). He prays again!
Even when he gets discouraging news in chapter 6, verse 9 he says, “I prayed. Now strengthen my hands.” (NIV).
Whether Nehemiah was facing enemies, in a meeting with a king, making strategic plans, concerned about his finances or receiving discouraging news, he prayed at all times, everywhere, in front of anybody! Prayer was not an “I’m in trouble, get me out” lifeline, it was a, “I need God’s guidance for absolutely everything” consistent lifestyle! Can the same be said of you?
I’ll be the first one to be honest about it, truth is, God doesn’t hear from me nearly enough, and just maybe that’s your confession too. Well, today is our turn-around day! We’re going to determine to be more consistent in our prayer lives! And it doesn’t mean you have to stop everything, bow your head, close your eyes, drop to your knees, start speaking in unknown tongues etc… No, truth be told, it could be prayer on the run! But it’s time we go consciously into the throne room of God to say, “I love you.” Or “Nice work, Lord. I love what You just did there.” Or possibly just a one word prayer “Help!” Or a daily guidance prayer “What should I say right now Lord?” Or a prayer of renewal “Give me strength, Lord.” See that’s what the Bible calls “abiding in Christ.” And “abide” simply means, “to dwell”. And it won’t always be spending 2 hours on bended knee or standing before the people in the sanctuary. But all throughout the day we should be in direct communication with the Lord. I don’t know about you, but there are many places I would never have gone to if I prayed first; people I would’ve never entertained, if I prayed first; mistakes I would’ve never made, if I prayed first; losses I wouldn’t have had to endure, if I prayed first; things I would never have said that I can’t take back now, if I simply would’ve prayed first.
Now, I haven’t got this whole praying without ceasing thing mastered yet, but I’m certainly getting it more and more! I’m learning the benefit of “Praying in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests.”
And truth is, with all that’s going on in the world, do we really need anyone to encourage us to pray more? The loss of life; COVID-19; Corona-virus; hundreds of thousands of deaths in just months time; attacks; cruelty; an election nightmare; ineffective and unconcerned leaders; vicious racism; and the like. Do we really need someone to say never stop praying? Our children are dying more frequently, younger and more violently, do we really need someone to call us and remind us to pray? The elderly are being mistreated, abused and even raped, robbed and murdered, do we really need someone to tell us to pray? Christian marriages are falling apart faster than the unsaved, do we really need someone to tell us to pray? Men are marrying men; women are marrying women; and children are shuffled in the middle of the confusion and now have identity crisis every other day; do we really need someone to tell us to pray? With our current government, do we really need someone to tell us to pray?!
If the church doesn’t get her focus back on prayer, she’ll become a circus with lively clowns, entertaining goats and assassinating sheep!
We are indeed living in some of the scariest of times, YET, we have the advantage of constant communication with our Creator who is in control of all things. Who wouldn’t talk to Him more often?!
People of God, let’s determine today to make Prayer Our Lifestyle, Not Just Our Lifeline when we’re in trouble! God Desires to Hear From You, So Today, Make Sure He Hears From You! Jeremiah 33:3, “This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: ‘Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’” (MSG)
Psalm 55:17, “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice.”
Mark 11:24, “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
Psalm 106:30, “But Phinehas prayed to the Lord, and the disease stopped.” (NCV)
Matthew 18:18-20, “Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of Me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.” (MSG)
Philippians 4:6-7, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (MSG)
James 5:16-18, “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.” (MSG)
Colossians 1:9, “Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you,” (MSG)
Proverbs 15:29, “The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayers of the righteous.” (TLB)
Romans 12:12, “Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and prayerful always.” (TLB)
“Prayer is not a ‘spare wheel’ that you pull out when in trouble, but it is a ‘steering wheel’ that directs the right path throughout.” (Author Unknown)
“When you feel like worrying, try praying instead. Worrying only creates more stress, but prayer creates more peace. God is bigger than whatever is stressing you out.” (Dave Willis)
“Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night.” (George Herbert)
“Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God.” (Mother Teresa)
“Worry can do a lot of things TO you; prayer can do a lot of things FOR you.” (Author Unknown)
“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” (Martin Luther)
“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” (Oswald Chambers)
“Prayer is man’s greatest power.” (W. Clement Stone)
“Pray hardest when it’s hardest to pray.” (Author Unknown)
“Prayer: The world’s greatest wireless connection.” (Author Unknown)
“It’s not the body’s posture but the heart’s attitude that counts when we pray.” (Billy Graham)
“When the devil sees a man or woman who really believes in prayer he trembles as much as he ever did.” (R.A. Torrey)
“Do not face the day until you have faced God in prayer.” (Author Unknown)
“Prayer can change the impossible.” (Author Unknown)
“Prayer is the Passport to Peace.” (Thomas S. Monson)
“Prayer is the voice of faith directed Godward.” (Billy Graham)
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