Is it Possible to Pray Without Ceasing?

Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog.

In 1 Timothy 2:8 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17 the apostle Paul exhorts us believers to do the seemingly impossible: “pray in every place” and “pray without ceasing.”

How is it possible to pray without ceasing? After all, many matters require our attention during the course of our day. We have to work, go to school, tend to our children, and so on. Did Paul mean we should drop our responsibilities and spend all our time in prayer? Surely not. But he also wouldn’t tell us to do something that wasn’t possible. So how can we pray in every place, and even unceasingly?

Prayer is one of the greatest blessings we as believers enjoy. Through prayer, we can come to our Lord to commune with Him in a personal way. The matter of prayer has many aspects. For instance, we previously discussed how important it is for us to have dedicated times for prayer, and even to go to a private place so we can pray without any interruptions.

On the other hand, praying in every place without ceasing is another aspect of prayer. And it’s actually possible, and even necessary, to have both these aspects of prayer in our Christian life.

How to pray without ceasing in every place

If we stop to think about it, what’s the one thing (physically speaking) we all do without ceasing, every second of our lives? We breathe. No matter how busy we are, we breathe. No matter what we’re doing, we’re breathing simultaneously. We don’t need to stop our other activity, no matter how strenuous or occupying it may be, in order to breathe.

Breathing sustains our physical life. In this way, breathing is a wonderful analogy for prayer; prayer is our spiritual breathing, and it’s absolutely necessary to sustain our spiritual life. We breathe in the divine life through prayer.

Realizing prayer is our spiritual breathing helps us understand how it’s possible for us to pray everywhere, all the time. But practically speaking, how do we do this?

One simple way to practice this kind of prayer is to call on the name of the Lord Jesus. We see how calling is equivalent to breathing in Lamentations 3:55-56:

I called upon Your name, O Jehovah, from the lowest pit. You have heard my voice; do not hide your ear at my breathing, at my cry.”

This verse shows us that calling on the name of the Lord is our spiritual breathing. And just like physical breathing, calling on Him is something we can do in every place, all the time.

Persevering to pray without ceasing

Unlike physical breathing, which comes to us naturally and automatically, praying without ceasing by calling on the Lord takes some exercise on our part. Note 1 on 1 Thessalonians 5:17 in the New Testament Recovery Version explains what it is to pray unceasingly:

“This is to have uninterrupted fellowship with God in our spirit. It requires perseverance (Rom. 12:12; Col 4:2) with a strong spirit (Eph. 6:18).”

Day by day, we need to persevere to build up a habit of praying without ceasing. We can exercise our spirit to constantly call on the Lord, wherever we are, even in the midst of carrying out our responsibilities and going about our daily life. We don’t need to go to a particular place or stop what we’re doing in order to breathe spiritually. While we’re driving, taking a test, working, or doing mundane chores, we can breathe Him in by calling upon His name, whether loudly or quietly.

Sometimes, we may realize that we haven’t been breathing spiritually as much as we should have. But we don’t have to be discouraged. We can simply begin to exercise our spirit again. As we exercise more and more to pray by calling on the Lord, this spiritual breathing will become spontaneous and regular throughout our day. Eventually, we’ll begin to pray without ceasing in every place.

Thank God for this wonderful way to pray!

We hope you’ll be encouraged and strengthened in your prayer life by reading some of our other posts on prayer: Private Prayer in an Age of Distraction; How Is Prayer Our Spiritual Breathing?; 8 Helpful Points for Breathing in God through Prayer; and 5 Spiritual Exercises You Can Practice through Prayer.

You can read more notes on 1 Thessalonians in the New Testament Recovery Version by ordering your free copy here.

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