Summary: What the Apostle Paul is doing in this passage is informing the Christians at the Church of Thessalonica that they should and must develop a habit of prayer…and never break that habit!
Date Written: February 27, 2001
Date Preached: February 28, 2001
Church: BBC (PM) Wed Night
Series: Great Imperatives for the Christian Walk
Title: The Imperative of Prayer
Text: 1 Thess 5:17
“…Pray without ceasing…” [NASB]
Our passage tonight is translated in the NASB and the KJV as “…pray without ceasing…” The Living Bible paraphrases this verse like this, “…always keep on praying…”
What the Apostle Paul is doing in this passage is informing the Christians at the Church of Thessalonica that they should and must develop a habit of prayer…and never break that habit!
Jesus told His disciples a parable to the effect that they, “…ought always to pray and NOT lose heart…” (Luke 18:1) God is committed to those who have become part of His family, and he is committed to answering their prayers.
However, Paul is telling the Christians at Thessalonica [as well as Christians today] that it is God’s will that we develop a consistent habit of prayer and never break that habit.
Why pray? If God knows what is going to happen, and if God’s Will is what is going to happen what will my prayer do? What good is it?
Well we pray for many reasons, but 1st we pray for the good of our own spiritual lives. Our prayer is our communication with God. This is our way of ‘talking’ with God.
Our prayer life is vital to our spiritual growth and maturation in the family of God. Without prayer we cannot know God’s will and if we do not know God’s will we cannot know how we are to please Him. As Christians, pleasing [obeying] God must be our 1st priority.
However, we also pray to advance the kingdom of Heaven. We pray for wisdom and courage and strength to share the Good News of Jesus Christ everywhere that we go. We pray for the HS to proceed us in the hearts and minds of those we will be speaking with and begin to soften their hearts to be receptive to the message of Christ.
These are great and necessary reasons for prayer and Paul is merely stating in this verse that that sort of prayer must be habitual and we must learn to develop that habit in our lives.
Now this DOES NOT mean that we can assume some pious or condescending attitude because we are constantly in prayer…as if we were more ‘spiritual’ than other people. It also does not mean that we have to separate ourselves from this world and enter a convent or a monastery to fulfill this exhortation of Paul.
His exhortation to us is not to be on our knees 24/7 but that we should always be in a spirit and mindset of prayer. We should always be ready to pray when it is needed, it should always be running through our minds.
Now if we look at and study prayer we can see that prayer has two sides, the human and the divine. The human side is where we speak to the God and the divine is when He speaks back to us.
True prayer is a dialogue, NOT A MONOLOGUE! This dialogue is where we bring our confessions, our thanksgivings, our petitions and our intercessions to God. However, we must remember that the most important part of prayer is NOT when we are speaking TO God, but when we are listening for God to speak to our hearts.
You should always have a part of your prayer time that is a quiet time that you seek to hear from God. You want to hear from Him regarding His will for your life, His answers to your prayers and His guidance in matters where you are unsure.
Listening to God is possible MORE important in the prayer activity than the verbalization of your prayer to Him. Why? God already knows what you are going to ask for, however, He desires you to ask because He desires the relationship with you!
Thomas Benton Brooks once wrote that, “…if you would have God hear you when you pray, you must hear Him when He speaks…”
We must learn to develop a habit of prayer for many reasons, but tonight I want to share 2 of the most important reasons why we should develop a habit of prayer!
1st we must develop a habit of prayer because God is a God who listens to His people!
God is a God who listens and He has promised in many places in Scripture that when we pray He will answer that prayer and bestow His gifts upon His children!
God is a God who listens, but He is not a “cosmic waiter” who is there taking your order when you pray. God listens to our prayers, but He knows what is best for us and He is going to answer our prayer in the most beneficial manner for US! The gifts He bestows upon us are only gifts that are good for us. We find evidence of that in Matt 7:11 where Jesus says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”