"pray without ceasing," (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NKJV)
Recently I heard a message on prayer by John Piper. He states that prayer is intentionally conveying a message to God. Piper was very careful with the wording of this statement. He went on to explain that prayer is not necessarily talking because at times conveying a message to God may be not much more than a groan (Romans 8:26). Prayer is not communicating to God because usually communication conveys a two sided conversation. Prayer is addressing God. God addresses us through His Word. Finally the concept of intentionality is important because we constantly address God through our action and attitudes. We may act like He is not important in our behavior, but we are not intentionally trying to send that message. I think Piper provides an excellent definition of prayer.
In the middle of his sermon Piper also said something that caused me to think about prayer a little differently. He said that he would hope people would be in such constant prayer that they prayed before and after every event in their life. Examples were given such as “begin each email with prayer and end it in prayer.” Or “begin watching television by praying and ending by praying.” That is a radical way of living that is worth pursuing. I am not sure to what degree we can actually function in life by adopting that principle, but I sure think it would be worth a try.
Tonight in our prayer meeting I intend to challenge our folks at LABC to consider adopting the aforementioned advice on how they can pray always. I may add that we should not only begin and end events with prayer, but we should also pray during whatever we are engaged in. Perhaps if we followed that model we may actually fulfill the command to “pray without ceasing” from time to time. What do you think?