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.