“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Last week we posted a blog post about the first part of this verse, “Rejoice always.” This week we are going to focus on “Pray without ceasing.”
Please join me this next month in meditating on these verses – praying that the Lord can change our minds and that we can fully live this out the rest of our lives.
If you didn’t read last week’s blog, it goes a little more in depth about the context of Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica. Paul wrote the 1 Thessalonians in order to encourage the new believers to stand firm in their faith & God’s truth. At the end of chapter 5, Paul gives the Thessalonians a few ways to follow Christ’s example that He set for us.
“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
As with the first instruction to “rejoice always,” it seems impossible to pray continually without ever stopping.
What is Paul saying? Again, let’s look at the words in the Greek, the New Testament’s native language.
- Pray comes from the Greek word “proseúxomai,” which means interacting with God by replacing our wishes for His as He gives faith
- Without ceasing means constantly
To clarify, Paul is not necessarily saying you have to pray out loud or write in your prayer journal every single second of every single day. Paul is saying that the Thessalonians (and us by extension), need to interact with the Lord in a way that is asking and talking to Him about His will and what He wants to accomplish, instead of our will and what we want to accomplish. It means taking the focus off ourselves and our wants, desires, needs, and transferring our focus to the Lord.
Secondly, “without ceasing” means constantly. Constantly doesn’t mean that you don’t focus on anything else, or do anything else. Obviously, in other areas of the Bible we are called to love and serve others. But if we are only writing our prayers in our prayer journal all day, we are neglecting other things God tells us to do. One author describes it very well:
“…It’s also possible Paul talks of ‘praying constantly’ in the same sense that I might say that I love my wife constantly. That doesn’t mean I do nothing else than gaze into her beautiful eyes, and sigh in contentment to be with her. I still go out. I still notice if the lights at the junctions are red or green. I still eat lunch. I still concentrate on my work. But none of that diminishes my love for [my wife]. It’s always there, and it affects every part of my life: my decisions, my motives, my plans. It is love that is constant.”
Persecution was common for the church in Thessalonica. But God called them to constantly rely on Him, and give up their circumstances to Him. And God calls us to do the same today. Obviously we are nowhere near perfect at this. But praise the Lord, for He is gracious and continually changes our hearts to help us turn towards Him! He uses the Holy Spirit to change our thoughts, attitudes, wants and desires, to line them up with Christ.
Prayer is one of the most powerful tools we have as Christians. The stories that we receive from the children in our care are true testimonies about the power of prayer. Mythily, a child who lives in one of Love One More’s homes, shared her testimony and how prayer has changed her life.
“My name is Mythily. I am a 13 year old girl. I come from a Hindu family. My mother deserted the family when I was 6 years old. My father was looking after my brother and me for 3 years in my uncle’s house.
One day, my father suddenly quarreled with my neighbor. He decided that it was unsafe for us to stay, so we moved to another city as my father had previously worked there. When we left, my father had no place to stay and no money. We lived on the pavement and slept on the pavement without food. An auto rickshaw driver had been observing us and finally took us to the police station to find help. The police sent my brother and me away to different children’s homes. Eventually I was transferred to one of Love One More’s homes. My brother was found and got transferred too. I was overjoyed that the two of us could be together.
When I joined the home, I was in the 4th grade. Now I am in 8th grade. For the past 5 years I have been learning many things. I realized that Jesus loves me. I have begun to read the Bible, learn songs and Bible stories, and memorize verses. Before coming to Love One More I was disobedient and violent. But after coming to Love One More, I sense a change in all aspects of my life.
I enjoy going to early Morning Prayer. It makes my life peaceful and happy. I now believe that Jesus Christ is my savior. I am praying to God for my mother, because I do not know where my mother is. It is very sad, but I believe that God will bring my mother to me.
Please pray for my brother and my education. My ambition is to become a teacher. When I grow up I will definitely help the needy children and also teach them about God’s love. Thank you for your loving care and your prayers.”
Let us lift up Mythily and the other children in prayer! Please continue to pray for them. Here are some specific praises and prayers from our office in India:
- For God’s help to conduct CGCs, Leadership Training, and House Parent’s training
- For all the new children admitted into the children’s homes
- For the Children’s Wellness Center and the children receiving therapy and care.
- Praise God for His grace, protection, and provision over every child and staff member
- Praise God for the dedicated team of staff both on the field and in our administrative offices who serve in the children’s ministry
- The children who attended the CGCs for the first time and for the children who attended the leadership training
- Pray for the Children’s Gospel Club Programs which continues every week throughout the year
- The House parents and superintendents to continue to serve faithfully
- Children in L1M’s homes, day care centers and after school programs, that they may grow in favor with God in wisdom & stature
- Many of our children’s homes face scarcity of water, especially over the summer. Please pray that God would provide the much needed rain and also that we would be able to provide additional wells to the Homes.
P.S. We’re going to be taking a deeper look at prayer NEXT MONTH. Please join us to mediate on God’s word and pray to Him, as well as praying for your sponsored child.