In Pursuit of Prayerfulness

I have been a Christian for nearly 60 years and I still struggle with the implementation of “unceasing prayer” in my daily life. The Apostle Paul instructed the Thessalonian Christians about the quality of continual praying, “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), How do we pray throughout the day to such an extent that it rises to the level of “unceasing?”

"In the moment" praying throughout the day seems so different from most prevailing practices of petition and intercession. I have tended to see traditional praying as scheduled, structured and formal like during a daily quiet time, a visit with a friend in need, before meal time, or at small group and worship times. These have seemed like the opportune times for praying.

"He walks with me"
Image credit: unsplash.com

I'm discovering, however, that prayerfulness can also be exercised while driving a car, cooking a meal, playing kickball with the grandkids, or when taking a nature walk at the neighborhood park. Prayer should be spontaneous, natural, and like any other conversation, 

The older I get, the more I find myself praying throughout the day. This kind of praying has become more needful. I seem to have a growing list of concerns that I didn’t have a few years ago. I’m also more aware of the needs of family members and close friends who need prayer support.

This means that when I am prompted by the Holy Spirit, I find myself offering short sentence prayers that are specifically focused. Some of these prayers are supportive because of those who are facing health issues, work-related challenges, or any number of other life needs. Some are guidance-based when a major opportunity or turning point is under consideration. And some are for spiritual protection against the tempting wiles of the evil one.

I would expect most believers to agree that prayerlessness is a sin that impacts the fellowship between God and His children. While there isn't any excuse for praying less, some might try to excuse themselves from praying because it feels like a chore, an obligation or duty to be performed. Others don't pray because they only know about the ritualist, formal, and rote-type prayers of their childhood. Some shy away from spontaneous praying because it requires transparency and this can be too painful. It might be good to remember that many who write about this subject regard prayer as a spiritual discipline. This implies that prayer is a spiritual undertaking that does require discipline and effort.

How can we transform our attitude about prayer from drudgery to something we want to do or even delight to do? Jesus told a parable to his disciples about a persistent widow to emphasize the need to “always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1). Practice and persistence may be the way forward. Start by confessing pride and any desire to manage life on your own terms. Address busyness by resetting priorities that allow time for prayerful reflection. Be intuitive and grow in an awareness of the needs of others. Seek out a trusted friend who will serve as a mentor and prayer partner. Finally, allow God to grow your prayer life through the pursuit of prayerfulness! 

From the beginning, God created mankind in His own image (Genesis 1:27). We have been given a gift, the wonderful capacity to relate to God. It was never God’s intention that we assert our independence and live life on our own. He designed us for fellowship and relationship. There is an old and beloved hymn that reminds us, “He walks with me, and talks with me, and He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other, has ever, known!” (In the Garden, Charles A. Miles, 1912).

At the beginning of creation, God walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He desires that same continuing and uninterrupted fellowship with us today. Let's keep pursuing Him through prayer!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com 

 

 

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