When the apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Thessalonica who were suffering under Roman domination, he told them, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Paul was not saying that we should continually mumble prayers every minute of the day. “Without ceasing” means a continuous recurrence. Prayer isn’t constant, but it recurs frequently throughout the day. Unceasing prayer is a way of life, not an occasional occurrence prompted by trouble or a quick addition at the end of the day. God wants us to focus our attention on Him consistently.
For instance, in the morning we could ask the Lord for guidance, strength, and wisdom for the day ahead. Then as our children go off to school, we might pray for the Lord’s protection. Or perhaps on the way to work, we talk to Him about the challenges we’ll face and thank Him for a safe trip. Throughout the rest of the day, we make requests, seek His direction, and give Him thanks until we finally climb into bed.
God is ready and willing to listen and to answer our prayers. We can’t say anything to the Lord that He doesn’t already know. He’s not sitting in heaven being secretive about His will for our lives or reluctant to answer our prayers. God proved His love for us by giving His Son as a sacrifice for our salvation, and He continues to demonstrate His love by being interested in every facet of our lives.
In Luke 18:1-7, Jesus taught a parable about a judge and a persistent widow, which reminds us that God always hears our prayers and provides for our needs. If we are His children, we don’t have to beg Him to listen to us, nor do we need to feel unworthy. We don’t deserve His mercy, grace, and love, but He freely gives it because of our relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.
This article was originally published on February 12, 2016, and is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “The Priority of Prayer,” which airs this weekend on TV.