Author Archives: Robert Bolles

The Essence of Prayer, II – I Thess 5:17

I Thessalonians 5:17 “pray without ceasing”.  What is the value of prayer without ceasing?  The atmosphere of prayer is an atmosphere of eternal things. Our lives have a flow to them and we stop sometimes to look at eternal things. We ought to be praying about everything:  What is in immediately in front of us; things on our minds; the church around the world; what is in our hearts; what we wring our hands over.

We need awareness of the relative importance of the things in our lives.  In a situation at work we tend to focus on the situation itself, but it will be gone in minutes or weeks while the people and their souls will last.  Prayer helps us see the relative importance of these pieces in our lives.  A person who is a problem in usual ways – am I praying for the eternal aspects of the situation or am I just annoyed?

What are God’s purposes in these aspects of our lives?  How do these things affect His people?  We see our relative helplessness in this atmosphere of prayer. In eternal things – these most important things – we are relatively helpless even though we may have areas of expertise.  This is intended to put us in prayer, not lead to frustration.

We need to be aware of our own duty.  There are positive things we ought to be doing at any particular time.  We have duty all the time; we don’t get to do our own thing.  Are we praying through the day or just reacting to things?   We have duty to be praying about the things we are doing instead of just worrying, as we often do.

Prayer is the parent of prayer.  Prayer is a habit, as is prayerlessness.  Prayer begets a spiritual outlook.  Lack of prayer leads to less prayer and a poor outlook.

Psalm 121  We need to take our eyes off physical things and “lift our eyes” to the Lord in prayer.  We are to make our lives a world of prayer.

The Essence of Prayer, I – I Thess 5:17

I Thessalonians 5:17  “pray without ceasing”.  Paul has given an exhortation, a command to a very young church.  This can be taken in a number of ways.  We can be like Nicodemus in John 3:3, 4.  When Jesus declared he must be born again, his response was “What??”  He clearly misunderstood the concept of the spiritual new birth.  To pray literally without ceasing is impossible for us on a human level.  We need a further understanding of this command on another level.

We must understand what Paul is not saying.  He is not saying, “Pray once in a while.”  He is not saying, ”Pray a little more frequently than you have been.”  He is saying, “Pray and don’t stop.”  This is how Paul prayed, Romans 1:9 “without ceasing”, I Corinthians 1:4 “always”, Ephesians 1:16 “without ceasing”.  This is clearly his own pattern that he exhorts to.

Paul is saying that there needs to be a spirit of prayer in our hearts and minds that breaks out into actual prayer at any moment.  It is an atmosphere of prayer, a climate that we live in that breaks out into rain and sun and clouds – praise and thanksgiving and petition.

We were created for this.  We were not created to be independent beings.  We were created for God Almighty, who is Spirit, not localized to one place.  We were not intended to just go into a prayer closet once in a while but to live in this atmosphere of prayer.  This requires that our communication channel with God,  the send and receive frequency, is switched on.  We cannot be living in a sense of guilt or sin that prevents prayer.

The believer prizes communion with God and will modify how he lives his life.  His mind will not be taken up with other things.  It’s a strategy of Satan to fill our minds with things that seem so important at the time.  There are times when our minds must be fully occupied with necessary work, but if there is an atmosphere of prayer we will take the available breaks – walking to the car, walking to a meeting, brushing teeth – to break into actual prayer.  The believer is called on divide himself in order to be whole.  The believer must be in this atmosphere of prayer when the mind is otherwise occupied.

Why?  The believer is a gracious being in a needy, often graceless world.  If we do not have a response of prayer in the midst of the world, who are we?  The believer has been shown mercy and shows mercy by praying for those around us.  The believer must recognize that God has put him in the world and difficult situations for prayer that God would show mercy.  This comes from having been given grace in Christ.