Our text this morning is 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
In the Greek, the verse contains two words.
This is the key to a life of sustained spiritual strength.
This is the normal Christian life.
“To pray, I think, does not mean to think about God in contrast to thinking about other things, or to spend time with God instead of spending time with other people. Rather, it means to think and live in the presence of God. As soon as we begin to divide our thoughts into thoughts about God and thoughts about people and events, we remove God from our daily life and put him in a pious little niche where we can think pious thoughts and experience pious feelings.
Although it is important and even indispensable for the spiritual life to set apart time for God and God alone, prayer can only become unceasing prayer when all our thoughts – beautiful or ugly, high or low, proud or shameful, sorrowful or joyful – can be thought in the presence of God. Thus, converting our unceasing thinking into unceasing prayer moves us from a self-centered monologue to a God-centered dialogue. This requires that we turn all our thoughts into conversation. The main question, therefore, is not so much what we think, but to whom we present our thoughts.” Henri Nouwen
Today we will talk about 4 shifts necessary to unceasing prayer.
1. From prayer as pressure to prayer as privilege.
Prayer is a privilege because we pray to the glorious, wonder working king of the universe.
Prayer is a privilege because the fruit of prayer is peace, joy, gratitude, companionship and power.
2. From prayer as a practice to prayer as a person to be known.
Prayer is not ultimately a practice I sit down to complete, it is a person whose presence I enjoy.
3. From increasing prayer to unceasing prayer.
None of us have arrived at unceasing prayer. And we won’t tomorrow. We won’t pray unceasingly, but we can pray increasingly.
4. From darkness to light.
Unceasing prayer is prayer all day long, in all kinds of activities.
It’s also prayer in all areas of life. Think of a house with many rooms. Unceasing prayer involves opening the door to every room, opening the curtains to let in the warm light of God’s gracious presence.
Unceasing prayer involves going through every scene of my life in prayer, letting the light of Christ illuminate the places of darkness.
An act of the will.
Unceasing prayer is something we have to choose. It is God’s will for us (1 Thess. 5:18). That means we can do it. It is an act of the will. It involves resolve and it involves planning.
But it is more than that.
An act of the Spirit.
In the time of the Old Covenant God promised to send help to his people – the Spirit of supplication.
The Holy Spirit is a praying Spirit.
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication.
When we receive the Holy Spirit, we receive a new impulse to pray.
Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”
When our planning is not enough, when our will alters, we have a resource far beyond our own ability.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
Through the gracious provision of the Holy Spirit, a life of unceasing prayer is possible for all of us.
Sustained spiritual strength is possible for all of us.
A life of constant companionship with the Lord is possible for all of us.
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown