How-To Pray without Ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

I was talking with a friend today about prayer and I realized there are some things I’ve discovered about prayer and hindrances to a lifestyle of prayer that others might find a blessing to hear (just as my friend did!).  Let me give a small disclaimer first, I am not saying I am an expert, I am not saying that the way I walk out “praying without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17) is the only way; I am merely saying this is how I’ve walked it out and I have seen many answered (my marriage testimony is a great example and also shares how the Father launched me into a lifestyle of prayer).

Misconception

Most people who don’t consider themselves strong in the area of prayer believe that people who are strong in prayer walk that out by spending countless hours each day on their face in intercession and travail.

While I don’t doubt there are people who live like that, I think the enemy uses this misconception to discourage people from even starting to become more active in prayer.  Basically it’s like asking someone who doesn’t really exercise to go out and do a marathon. It’s not going to happen and it will feel totally overwhelming. So let’s start with walking 🙂

Filling the Bowls

In Revelation 5:8, John refers to “…golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” I love this visual! And when I think of our marathon prayer warriors on their faces for hours each day, I picture a bowl under a faucet that is turned on full blast. It’s flooooowing. That bowl will fill quickly.

But the fact is there is more than one way to fill a bowl. If you put a bowl under a dripping faucet, I guarantee you it will fill up at some point. So in my personal walk, I know I can’t always sustain long lengthy prayer times, but I make up for it in persistence. In other words, I do a lot of dripping.  Some examples:

  • I see a teenaged girl dressed like a whore and I’ll shoot a one-liner prayer up to the Father.
  • My hubby does something wonderful I thank the Father for him and the good work I see Him doing in his life.
  • A friend hurts my feelings, I confess the pain to the Father, forgive them, and bless them.

Whatever is happening in my life, there is almost always a point worthy of prayer in it. Blessing someone. Praying for mercy for someone. Standing for a miracle for someone. Drip. Drip. Drip.

Prayer Length

The fact is most of us tend to dismiss short prayers as though they don’t “count” because they’re too simple and too short.  As humans we like to make thing hard in our flesh so we feel like WE have done something, but the fact is us choosing to agree with the Father and what HE wants to do is more powerful than 100 hours of prayers coming from our flesh. It’s important we remember that it’s not in our strength but His that anything is accomplished.

I learned the importance of one-liner prayers a few years ago. I was driving by a neighborhood I hadn’t been through in 20+ years. It made me think of a guy I’d known back then who lived in this area and I simply smiled at the thought of him and said “Get him God!” Two weeks later who walks into my church but the very guy I’d prayed for – I hadn’t seen him in over 2 decades!  He was homeless and living out of his van with his girlfriend. This started both their walks of faith. And I know that one-liner prayer of mine agreeing with the Father’s heart over this man helped bring this about.

But more than just my personal experiences, I want to pause for a moment and see how Jesus (Yeshua) prayed. Let’s start with Matthew 6:9-13 (the Lord’s prayer):

In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

This is not a long prayer!  And again, not saying long is bad – just saying short is not bad either.  Let’s look at another.  Here we find the Messiah in the garden of Gethsemane in Matthew 26:39

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

It’s a one-liner!  Proof that one-line prayers “count” 😉  And again in verse 42:

Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”

Walking it out

For me, I “drip” constantly all day every day. I also have moments where I feel moved to turn up the water pressure and pray more. Drip. Drip. Flooooooooooooow. Drip. All the time.  Walking this out isn’t unachievable or overwhelming, it’s merely a matter of making each day an ongoing conversation with the Father (and by the way, it’s in that dialog that I also hear the voice of the Father).

I encourage you to work towards dripping more (or if you drip well, floooooooow more)!  Make an intentional choice to turn ongoing daily observations into prayer, even if they’re just one-liners. Bless you as you go fill bowls!

Father, help all of us reading this to “drip” more. Amen!

21 thoughts on “How-To Pray without Ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

  1. Thank you so much for this Meghan! I am a bit the same as you I think….dripping constantly and occasionally having the long flow of prayer…..I LOVE one-liner prayers. I remember a wonderful prayer time I had with one of my best friends and it was a ‘conversational prayer time’ where we basically just said short, one sentence prayers back and fore….it is one of the best times of prayer I have ever had and we covered a whole LOAD of stuff!!!! I think God smiled at us during that time! :o)

    This posting of yours really blessed me – thanks!!
    Carolynda,
    x

  2. Hi Meghan – this is really great. And, oh, so helpful. It’s my constantly challenge to pray unceasingly, and you’ve given some great ideas. It really is about choosing a lifestyle where you can do these things – regardless of what you happen to be doing at the moment. Whether it’s taking kids to school or cooking dinner or sitting at your desk at work, we’re never put in a situation where we can’t pray. Thanks for helping me figure out better ways!

  3. LOVE this. Always feel challenged becsause I am not so good at the long, drawn out, wordy, very expressive prayer, but,…… I do talk to my Abba all day. Every day. LOVE this.

  4. Meghan I so totally agree with you and have lived this most of my life. I love the flow times with the Lord but my days consist of drips. Thanking him for a good hair day, for the cake not falling, for the beautiful clouds. Asking for forgiveness for my temper, healing for a neighbor, help for the grandchild at school. I think that is prayer without ceasing and it is in these times that we take time to hear His voice too.

  5. Thank you for share this Meghan, I loved it!!

    I do drip alot through out the day and I know that Papa hears everyone of them. As I take my walks, I will see something or someone and lift a pray up to him, driving in my car and I see a homeless person, i lift a prayer to Papa. Someone comes to mind and I pray for them. All day long, I drip and I am working on the flowing.

    My husband just made it to work and he texts me every morning. I lift a prayer to Papa for my husband every moring 🙂 I was so blessed my this blog that I am going to be sharing it with Dan this evening.

    Love you Meghan

  6. Thank you so much for this on time word! This post has been an answer to prayer. I have always been plagued with guilt because I don’t spend hours in prayer. I’m not good with words and after awhile I just run out of things to say. So thank you Meghan!

    Love
    Jennifer

  7. This is a good word 🙂 I love the idea of making prayer a “lifestyle choice,” just as I’ve heard so often that eating right has to be a “lifestyle choice.” If you just go on a diet, you’ll get tired of it and go back to your old way of eating. Just like, if you think you have to spend those hours on your face, like you said, you’ll give up and just not pray at all. Thank you for this very practical word of encouragement!

  8. Can prayers in thought count? I mean not speaking, but thoughts? This is how I pray most of the time, no spoken words.

    Another thing about prayer: Is it possible to be called into ministry, prayer, and intercession with such intensity that family time and any leisure activity has to be almost completely sacrificed?

    I know when called to ministry, everything else becomes secondary and almost worthless if it is not part of the ministry like money, titles, other interests, etc… Things can be regained in the resurrection that we give up now to serve G-d and ministry leaves hardly no room for leisure. According to G-d’s standards, You can work an 8 hour job 40 hours a week and still be considered lazy because His work is more internal.

    I spend hardly no time with family members except on the weekend even though I live in the same house with them!!! This is partially because of the “little bird” I can’t stand living with and because they are all the time watching movies and TV that I just have no interest in. I also have Asperger’s Syndrome which also maybe to blame, but mostly it is the “little bird”

    I am trying to bring my intercession gift back that I know I have because sometimes I find myself praying for about an hour at time and sometimes having the extreme urge to pray in the weirdest situations. I also know that general prayer means about one to two hours a day at least!! I am still working on this. This I learned in a really detailed book called “The Netzarim Way To Serve YHWH” You can find it online if you look for it.

  9. So glad so many of you have been blessed by it!

    @Tabitha, I was just thinking I needed to do some follow-up posts on prayer. But to give the short answer – yes, I believe He definitely hears our prayers and they do “count” – I’ll try to do a post soon with more on that 🙂

    It is definitely possible for Him to call someone into a full-time ministry of prayer, but He is a God who believes in rest too – but I agree He is not contained to a 40 hr work week 😉

    On the “little bird” – I continue praying for you in that situation, but want to encourage you to take a look at a couple blogs I wrote:
    http://meghanw.com/2011/07/12/grumbling-about-leaders-num-21-1-cor-109/
    http://meghanw.com/2011/12/14/a-challenge-to-submit-genesis-16/

    Bless you 🙂

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this. The marathon — walking analogy is so great and adds light to this subject. I was at a point where I was thinking “oh, I am not an intercessor. I don’t pray and cry out for hours and hours on end for the injustices of this world.” Ah, yes that lie was trying to tell me that because I do not run the marathon or even walk the marathon I am not in the race. I see me canoeing instead. 🙂

    The dripping faucet is perfect and encouraging. After I heard someone talk about “drive by” prayers I thought I would do it myself: one-liners in the grocery store or when someone comes to mind. At first it was a bit awkward but I am getting more used to it and I find that the more I am open to it the more tuggings I seem to receive.

    All that to say thank you very much for this post because it reiterates “I am on track!” and helps to dispel any lies that may try to sneak in.

  11. Oh Meghan. You have no idea how much you have ministered to me in these past few weeks. I thank God for you. Thank you for this word on prayer. I was struggling with this area this very week and I was trying to figure out why it was so hard for me to commit long periods of time to pray. The way you broke down the concept of walking it out! Awesome! That’s what I do but I couldn’t brake it down the way you did! This message was timely.

  12. I do better at dripping prayers. Unless I am journaling my prayers then they can fill pages in my journal. Praying out loud though I have always been one to pray short and sweet prayers. I have often wished I could pray those long eloquent prayers I’ve heard others pray but alas maybe someday. 😉

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