What does it mean to pray without ceasing?
Paul tells the Church to pray without ceasing as part of a concluding series of statements in his first letter to Thessalonica:
1Th. 5:14 We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
1Th. 5:15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.
1Th. 5:16 Rejoice always;
1Th. 5:17 pray without ceasing;
1Th. 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1Th. 5:19 Do not quench the Spirit;
1Th. 5:20 do not despise prophetic utterances.
1Th. 5:21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;
1Th. 5:22 abstain from every form of evil.
Paul is arguing for godliness and self-restraint among the people of God. At the time Paul wrote his letter, the church was enduring persecution and great tribulation in their day. These tests led some to become anxious, impatient and even hurtful to one another in the body of Christ.
Paul admonished the church to restrain these sinful responses and to rely on the Spirit to ease their worries, strengthen their resolves and guide their understanding. Key among his instructions were to pray without ceasing in v.17. When a believer faces difficulty and trial, the tendency can to be a retreat from our disciplines of faith and move to action. We take matters into our own hands rather than waiting patiently for the Lord to address our needs.
Paul says godliness and spiritual maturity demands that we seek the Lord’s counsel in prayer while giving thanks for God’s will in our life. To pray without ceasing means to seek His will in everything we experience, not simply when we want something from Him or wish to thank Him for His gifts.
Prayer must be a daily means of working with the Lord to know His will and to do it.