Name one thing you do without stopping. Outside of having a pulse and breathing, there’s not much. Some have said that prayer is the heartbeat or lifeblood of the Christian. Can we actually pray “without ceasing”? I tend to believe that God doesn’t ask us to do something that He won’t empower us to do. And we don’t have to do biblical gymnastics to figure out loopholes for how we define “unceasing” to make this work. This is not an exercise in being a Pharisee.
The Bible admonishes us to pray without ceasing in several places. Consider these verses:
- Luke 18:1—Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up (followed by the parable of the persistent widow).
- Romans 12:12—Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
- Ephesians 6:18—And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
- Philippians 4:6—Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
- Colossians 4:2—Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
The principle of unceasing prayer is that it takes us outside of the normal routine we think of—praying either in the morning or evening—and brings us into a pattern of prayer that can be triggered by anything. For example, I know some pastors who will put a cross made of nails in their pockets during Lent so they might pray for either unsaved people or for their congregation’s spiritual formation every time they reach into their pocket. Or people use bracelets to remind them of praying for their kids. What about using your wedding ring? Every time you play with it, you offer a simple prayer for your spouse? What is there at your job that could remind you of a cause to pray for?
Unceasing prayer looks at all of life as an opportunity to pray. At first, we develop the habit by using these physical objects as prayer reminders. And as we practice over and over, the prayer becomes unconscious, and we don’t even know we’re doing it. This kind of prayer does not have to be made out loud, depending where we are at.
We get off track when we get worried about whether or not we’ve prayed enough for it to “count” as unceasing. Remembering that my friendship with Jesus is what this is all about stops me from tallying minutes. I encourage you to give this a shot. No one has to know, which is part of the fun of it. You are secretly talking with God, and that object that others dismiss is your prompt. It’s like being a kid again in a secret hideout. This is something that only you and God know about, your inside joke, your personalized connection to Him.
So pick an object today and breathe a sentence prayer each time you see it.