“…Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”
Have you ever caught yourself saying, “I don’t want to pray about _____, because it is not a big enough deal to bother God with”? I have. Sometimes, I feel that I am dishonoring the Almighty Creator God with my petty requests and issues. But as the verse above says, we should pray at all times. This command is repeated over and over in the New Testament, for instance in 1 Thess. 5:16-18, Rom. 12:12, Phil. 4:6 and Col. 4:2.
Praying at all times
There are two ways to interpret the command to ‘always pray.’ One is that we should not give up when the prayers aren’t answered. Sometimes prayers get delayed (Daniel is a good example, as is Hannah praying for her son and Anna praying for the Messiah), but the Bible says that “…if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” Some things are placed in our paths to lead us to greater faith, and this means that God will not automatically give us everything we ask for. For instance, Jesus told a parable in Luke “for the reason that men ought to always pray and not lose heart.” This parable was about the widow who would not stop bugging the judge for justice for her case, and it applies to our lives too—do not stop praying until you get an answer from God.
There is also a second way to understand this command to ‘always pray,’ and it is that we should be creating a continual conversation with God. This means praying over things that may seem small or trivial for God to have to deal with, but 1 Peter 5:7 says prayer should be “…casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” This includes the anxiety of being late to work (and praying for all green lights!) or the anxiety of whether you have the money to buy a candy bar or not. Psalm 55 echoes the same idea when it says, “…cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you…” The prophet Jeremiah says that when he was distressed, he called out to God for help and God heard his prayer and came to his rescue.
Have you prayed about that?
While I was growing up, my mom taught us to have an everyday kind of faith. One of my favorite examples of my mom teaching us the power of prayer was concerning lost church shoes. Church time would come around and I (or one of my siblings) would say we couldn’t find one of our shoes. Mom would reply with, “Well, did you pray that you would find them?” It would upset me, but since she wasn’t going to help look for them, we would eventually pray to find them. And guess what? We would! Now, I am the one saying, “Well, did you pray about it?” But that is the faith I have learned to have—I talk to God over everything, the way some people do with their best friends. I pray for wisdom, because He promised to give it freely to whoever asks (James 1:5). I pray that God is with me in everything I do, because He promises to be near all who call on Him (Psalm 145:18). I ask for financial blessings and a far-reaching ministry, because He was willing to answer that prayer for Jabez in 1 Chronicles. These are the “big requests” to me, the God-sized needs.
But, I have learned to live out an everyday faith, and I spend time talking with God over everything, whenever I need a listening ear. I complain about money, I ask for green lights, I discuss food choices, I cry about stress, I whine about chores, I demand more gems on my phone game and wonder if I will ever have patience with the pets… all with my Almighty Creator God. Why? Because God is the reason we exist, the reason “we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28),” and He has asked to be involved in every aspect of our lives. However, even more important is that God has asked for a relationship with us. So, that is what I am giving Him—a relationship between a loving, all-powerful God and a lowly, created, emotional, stressed and silly being. In any relationship, communication and time together is what builds the trust that draws you close together. This is all that “praying without ceasing” means—spend time with God and start communicating with Him about what’s going on in your life.
Prayer: breath of the soul
Matthew Henry is quoted as saying, “You may as soon find a living man that does not breath, as a living Christian that does not pray.” This is true, because what sets us apart, what makes the Christian walk powerful is the willingness of God to be involved in every aspect of our lives and our willingness to allow Him to be involved. To deny Him that privilege puts a restriction, not only on our Christian journey, but also on what God is able to do in our lives.
I pray that you join me in praying over every detail of your life—in finding the shoes, in getting to work on time, in filing the reports, in the forgiving of hurts or even in the cares of tomorrow. Let us practice an attitude of continual pray in the little things and we will watch our prayers be answered while our faith grows exponentially.
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