How Can We Pray Without Ceasing?

Some things in life are done completely by instinct; our hearts beat, we breathe, blink, and grow all at the same time. Our bodies and minds have been designed in such a way that we never have to stop and think about these things that naturally occur. We were created so intelligently that we function without even thinking. Crazy to think about! Statistics say that on average a heart beats 101,000 times per day, a body breathes 23,000 times every day, the eyes blink 15,000 times each day, and hair grows approximately .36 millimeters every twenty four hours (Fast Facts). The point of all those numbers? By the time you have read the past five sentences, your heart had to beat, your body took a breath, your eyes blinked, and your hair grew. The funny thing is your body did all of that for you and you probably never had to stop and process it. We are intelligent, multitasking creatures, so why can’t prayer become like breathing?

I grew up with the mindset that prayer was only for special occasions or when I needed something from God. I prayed before I ate, before I went to bed, at church on Sunday, and when something wasn’t going my way. I thought that prayer meant our eyes were closed, our hands were folded, and we were talking to God. After I said, “Amen!” then I could continue on with my day because it meant that I had ended the conversation, like hanging up a telephone. Over the years I have come to the realization that I was dead wrong. The “right” way to pray does not require folded hands or closed eyes. In fact, we should often be praying with our eyes open following 1 Thessalonians 5:17 where Paul tells us to “pray continually.”

I often thought to myself, “How can a person keep a constant connection with God?” It seems impossible to be continually praying with all of the busy demands that surround us in everyday life. I have come to the conclusion that if I think of prayer as a conversation with God, then I can keep my thoughts focused on Him. When prayer is conversational then we no longer need long introductions and closing statements, we just come to God with whatever is on our minds. The days when I thought I could avoid prayer were the days when I felt the worst. Since then, prayer has become like breathing, and because of that I cannot go a second without being connected to God. George Muller is a wonderful example of someone who prayed without ceasing. “When asked how much time he spent in prayer, George Muller's reply was, ‘Hours every day. But I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk and when I lie down and when I arise. And the answers are always coming’” (Storer). Prayer is what gives us an instantaneous connection to God (Cilluffo 29), making it an essential part to our spiritual lives, just as breathing is essential to our earthly survival.

So how do we allow prayer to become as instinctual as breathing? We never have to think to breathe because of the inevitable pressure that is placed on our lungs by the atmosphere. We are eventually forced to breathe, and when we do not, we realize that holding our breath is much harder than if we were to breathe naturally.  In the same way, God’s very presence is the pressure that is placed on our lives that forces us to pray in response. “Unfortunately, many believers hold their ‘spiritual breath’ for long periods, thinking brief moments with God are sufficient to allow them to survive” (What Does It Mean). When we avoid praying then we are not continually in God’s presence and sin begins to take over. Prayer is our spiritual weapon (Ephesians 6:18), and without it, we become defenseless against the evil that wants to take over.

           When we do not pray, we rely on ourselves and other earthly things to help us during the rocky times in our lives. If we replace that self-dependence with dependence on God then He becomes the comfort that sustains us (Psalm 55:22). Prayer should really be defined as a codependency. We rely on God to be there for us when we need Him and unlike anything else in this world, He never lets us down. 1 John 4:13 tells us, “We know that we live in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” God is always with us and never changes; He is the one constant in our lives that is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8).  We automatically pray when we are afraid or angry but in everything that we do, Paul tells us to be in “prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, presenting our requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). That means that instead of using God as the refuge we turn to when we are weak, we should already be connected in the good times, before the bad times hit. “As we go through the day, prayer should be our first response to every fearful situation, every anxious thought, and every undesired task that God commands” (What Does It Mean). Fear cripples not only us, but also our abilities to serve in everyday life. If we keep a constant connection of prayer with God, then fear never has a chance to take its hold.

Praying without ceasing literally means to pray without ever stopping, but this does not mean becoming permanently glued to the floor on our knees with our heads bowed. We can pray in all circumstances, it just takes a quick shift of the mind to focus our thoughts on God. Certain things trigger our brains to pray, such as seeing a homeless person on the street, a crying child, or a worried friend, but what about the less obvious situations? We can pray for the people that pass by us as we drive, the houses that have for sale signs in their front yard, shopping in the grocery store, doing the laundry, scrubbing the bathroom, mowing the lawn, the list is endless (Storer). When we allow ourselves to be continually in prayer, God automatically reminds us to talk to Him because He genuinely wants us to spend time with Him. He shows us how to pray without ceasing if we let Him (Garcia).

Simply put, “Unceasing prayer is…continual dependence and communion with the Father” (What Does It Mean). We may not be able to always be on our knees, but we can always rejoice. Keeping a joyful heart attitude, rejoicing in all circumstances, and being in agreement with the Spirit when He moves us is effective prayer (Pray Without Ceasing). God is never concerned with the position of our bodies, but rather the condition of our hearts and the motives behind what we pray. By praying continually we keep an open connection with God so that our thoughts and actions reflect our relationship with Him. In turn, it rids us of our fear and anxiety, giving us peace and making our day operate smoother. It may sound crazy, or even unnecessary, but from my own experience, I can say that praying without ceasing is one of my most encouraging experiences. Knowing that you have someone that takes the time to listen to you and six billion other people at the same time is indescribable.

Still not convinced that continuous prayer is one of the most powerful spiritual weapons? Maybe one of the most astounding stories in history will change your mind. It goes something like this: There once was a loyal, trustworthy, and honest man set apart from the rest of those who worked with him. He was so perfect it seemed, that the king of the land wanted to put him in charge of the whole kingdom. The other men quickly became enraged by the king’s decision, and began observing this “perfect man” under a microscope. The only problem was they could find no fault with him. So they proceeded to ask their king for a law that prohibited all people from worshipping anyone other than the king for thirty days.  If under any circumstance a person worshipped anyone else, then they would be thrown into a pit of starving, mangy beasts. As the story goes, the loyal, trustworthy man was named Daniel, and he refused to give up any of his time spent with God.  He continued praying both day and night until it was finally brought to King Darius’ attention. The king knew he could not go back on his word, so against his will and in agreement with his decree, he was forced to throw Daniel into a pit filled with ravenous lions. Throughout the night the king tossed and turned, sick to his stomach, just waiting to see if Daniel’s God had saved him from his sure death. At dawn, he went to the den and called out to Daniel. To his surprise Daniel immediately answered telling him that the Angel of the Lord had shut the mouths of the lions for he had been found innocent before the Lord. King Darius was overjoyed as Daniel was pulled out of the pit unscathed. The king declared that from then on Daniel’s God would be worshipped and feared throughout the kingdom. Daniel had trusted God one hundred percent, praying continually, and because of it he had been saved. The king then ordered for all of the conspirators who plotted against Daniel to be thrown into the lion’s den, and before they even hit the ground their bodies were torn to pieces between the jaws of the beasts

(Daniel 6:1-27). Daniel shows us that continuous prayer is truly effective; it can be our strongest weapon in time of need.

How can we really fulfill 1 Thessalonians 5:17? By breathing prayer! Make prayer as essential to your survival as getting oxygen is to your lungs. Continuous prayer can be a challenge, but each day it gets easier. God already puts on our heart what He wants us to hear; we just have to open ourselves to listening. Turn prayer into a conversation rather than a chore. Think of praying as an opportunity to communicate with God. When you find a few dollars in your pocket that you forgot about, let God know how thankful you are. When you trip and stumble in front of a large crowd, thank God that you broke just one arm and not two!  When you are filled with anxiety about an upcoming event, let God know. He cares! Even about the little things in life (1 Peter 5:7)! In the same way that a relationship with a friend would suffer if you stopped talking to them, our relationship with God suffers when we do not talk to Him. There is no other person in this world that we can continually talk to, so take the opportunity to talk with God. Prayer gives us instant, direct access to Him! “Continual, persistent, incessant prayer is an essential part of Christian living and flows out of humility and dependence on God” (What Does It Mean). When we stay connected and make God a priority, then our heart is open to following where He leads. Will you follow God’s command and pray without ceasing?

Works Consulted

"Average Hair Growth." LIVESTRONG.COM. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Jan. 2013.

Cilluffo, Joseph A. Prayer: Walking & Talking with God. 2nd ed. Waverly, New York: Zion Christian, 2012. Print.

Cilluffo, Joseph. Personal Interview. 21 Dec. 2012.

"Fast Facts about Your Body." Fast Facts RSS. N.p., 2 July 2010. Web. 04 Jan. 2013.

Garcia, Alice. Personal Interview. 18 Dec. 2012.

Johnson, Bill, and Heidi Baker. Hosting the Presence: Unveiling Heaven's Agenda. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 2012. Print.

"Pray Without Ceasing." N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Jan. 2013.

Storer, Betty. "Without Ceasing." Without Ceasing. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Jan. 2013.

"What Does It Mean to Pray without Ceasing?" What Does It Mean to Pray without Ceasing? N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Jan. 2013.