Pray without Ceasing

In I Thessalonians 5:17, Paul tells the reader to “pray without ceasing.” Over the years Christians have wondered what exactly he means by this. Does he mean we are to all take on a Monk like existence and pray unending, all day long? Are we to constantly be praying for people and things throughout the day? How often is “without ceasing?”

This command is in the midst of several other commands that Paul is giving the Thessalonians in relation to their following of Christ. This command is surrounded by two other commands which are “Rejoice always” and “in everything give thanks.” Both of these commands should give us some insight into the command to pray without ceasing.

The same Greek word for ceasing here is used two other times in I Thessalonians. It is first used in 1:3 pertaining to how Paul views the Thessalonians, and in 2:13 as a way for Paul to describe how the Thessalonians latched onto the gospel. The word seems to mean that there is an ever present understanding and awareness of these thoughts on an individual’s mind.

We take all of this to ascertain that to “pray without ceasing” means for us to be aware of our need to pray always. This means that when we are driving down the road (preferably with your eyes open), playing golf, running, eating, doing our work, sitting in school, or wherever we are, we should have an attitude and an awareness of the need to pray.

This phrase also tells us that we do need to have a special arrangement with God to pray, but rather he is always listening. God is always keenly focused on our life and we don’t have to send out a special call for God to be aware of us.

My prayer for you is that you take this command and begin to be aware of the need to pray wherever you are and whenever you can. Staying in a constant state of prayer is the way to stay in a constant relationship with Jesus.