Exploring Prayer With
By Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Chapter 22 — Pray Without Ceasing
1st Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing."
Notice the words, "Rejoice evermore," of I Thessalonians 5:16 are yoked with the words, "Pray without ceasing." God is saying, the more praying, the more rejoicing! The less praying, the less rejoicing! Then note the statement in the next verse, "In every thing gives thanks." Ah, how sweet! When joy and prayer are married, their firstborn child is gratitude.
Now what does it mean, "Pray without ceasing"? Does it mean we are to be speaking words constantly? Of course not! Does it mean that the Christian should stay on his knees every moment of every day? This is impossible. Does it mean that there is a certain place where we must go and stay in order to pray? No, it does not. There are several things meant by our Lord when He says we are to pray without ceasing.
1. There is no time when the Christian should not pray. There is not one unholy second in a minute. There is no one unholy minute of the day. There is not one unholy day of the week. There is not one unholy week of the year. There is not one unholy year of our lives. From January 1 through December 31, all days are red-letter days. Every day is a sabbath day and every moment is a sacred moment. There is not time when a Christian should not pray.
How wonderful are the early morning hours when the Christian steals away alone with his God and prays with a choir of birds, the humming of the cricket, the amen of a rooster, a chandelier made of the rising sun, a congregation of trees, a chancel made of a cluster of daffodils! Ah, how wonderful are the early morning hours for prayer! When a Christian neglects the early morning prayer watch, he is robbing himself not only of a mighty power but of blessed fellowship.
How sacred are the closing hours of the day when God's rheostat has slowly dimmed the chandelier, and the peaceful tranquility of the sunset and the evening darkness make God seem even nearer and dearer!
How powerful then is the midnight hour as the servant of God wrestles, pleading with God for power, for provision, for blessing!
How strengthening then is the noontime when the Christian may attach his cable to God's booster for help during the day's toil!
2. There is no place where the Christian should not pray. Every place is holy ground. Every bush is a burning bush. Every hill is an alter. Every valley is a sanctuary. You can come to the mercyseat from where you are. As someone has said, "It is only a knee away."
Kings hold their levees on appointed days. The Kings of kings holds a constant levee. Those under King Ahasuerus were slain who approached him when he was not holding out his scepter. The King of kings is always holding out His scepter. The dead of night is not too late; the morning's break is not too early; at eventide He is not too weary. The kitchen sink can be an alter, the work bench can be a chancel, the school room can be a sanctuary, the sofa can be a mourner's bench, even the rest room can be a prayer closet!
3. The Christian should be in conversation with God all the time. There are several ways this can be done. For example, I have on my desk in my office a piece of wood about three feet long on which are burned the words, "Pray for power." In every Bible that I own I have the words, "Pray for power." On my office door are the words, "pray for power." Inside my briefcase are the words, "Pray for power." At the mirror where I shave at home are the words, "pray for power." The mirror in my washroom at church has written on it the words, "pray for power." Hundreds of times a day I pray for the power of God. This perhaps is at least a part of what God meant when He admonished us to pray without ceasing.
The Christian should be constantly sending out little darts of prayer. When the cares of this life, the daily work and toil of life make us unable to load the furnace, we can send little sparks rising in the form of words, thoughts and even looks to our Heavenly father.
For years I spent many hours a month with Dr. John R. Rice. For over 22 years I shared pulpits and platforms across America with him. Over 2200 times he and I have preached on the same program. I have stayed with him in motel rooms, eaten with him in restaurants, prayed with him in classrooms. Many times when nothing was being said I would see his lips moving. I would hear a mumble just above a whisper. What was he doing? He was praying! He was sending up brief messages. I can remember that when we would be driving to the service at night I would overhear him saying just above a whisper, "Lord, help me. Lord, give me power. Lord, bless the service, help us."
The Christian's magnetized needle should always be pointing north toward his God. Years ago the marvelous Christian and great preacher Evangelist Lester Roloff preacher for me on a Wednesday night. The next night he was to preach in Canton, Ohio, and I was to preach in Akron, Ohio. He suggested that I fly with him in his private plane to the Akron-Canton airport. I agree to do so. What a wonderful time of fellowship we had until suddenly Brother Roloff looked at me and through pale lips said, "Brother Jack, we are lost! The compass is broken! We are over Lake Erie and we don't have much gasoline left! Unless this compass is repaired quickly, we may have to crash land in the lake! Both of us were, to say the least, apprehensive. I nervously reached up on the dash of the airplane and took the can of pecans down and ate a few. When I removed the pecan can, the compass went back to perfect operation. One little can of pecans at the wrong place had gotten us off course. When the child of God has something between him and his God and between him and his prayer life, he will soon be off course.
I am alone very much. Fifty weeks a year, I fly on Monday from O'Hare Field in Chicago to some place in America where I preach on Monday night and Tuesday. I fly over 200,000 miles a year. I spend hundreds of hours a year in motel rooms. I try to keep in constant contact with Heaven. I often sing those beautiful words, "Oh, what peace we often forfeit; oh, what needless pain we bear; all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer." There is no burden so great that God doesn't want to help us bear it. There is no burden so small but that God wants to help us solve it. There is no problem so great but that God wants to help us solve it. There is no problems so small that does not attract the attention of our God, and He wants to help us find a solution. There is no question so hard but that God can answer it. There is no question so simple but that God wants to help us find the answer. God is interested in your shopping; talk to Him about it. God is interested in your work; talk to Him about it. God is interested in your school; talk to Him about it. God is interested in your housekeeping; talk to Him about it. There is no area of life that should be kept from God, and we should be in constant touch with Heaven presenting our petitions and finding grace to help in time of need.
One Sunday night I was leaving my study to walk down the alley behind the church on my way to the evening service. As I left the office, I had a funny taste in my mouth. I said, "Dear Lord, some peppermint sure would taste good right now." As I was walking through the door, one of our fine deacons walked up, reached in his pocket and took out a little piece of peppermint candy and said, "Pastor, would you like to have a piece of candy before you preach?" My heart leaped with joy. I said, "Thank You, Lord." Sometimes the sweetest answers to prayer are the smallest ones when God is mindful of our little needs in the commonplace events of our life.
One day I didn't have time to go out for lunch, but I was so hungry! I said, "Lord, I sure would like something to eat." Within a few seconds I heard someone knocking at the door of my study. I went to the door. Someone had left a cheese quarter-pounder and some French fries outside my door. I smiled and said, "Thank You, Lord," and enjoyed my lunch.
God wants us to abide in Him. He wants us to abide in prayer. He wants us to walk in prayer. Mrs. Billy Sunday ("Ma" Sunday) was a dear friend of mine during her latter years. Though I never met her husband, I got to know Ma very well. On several occasions she would tell me some things about her husband. One day she talked to me about his prayer life. She told me how she and her husband would be walking down the street, and Billy Sunday would talk to her awhile and then to God awhile, to her awhile and then to God awhile. She said it was often difficult for her to know to which one he was talking. He had learned to pray without ceasing!
PREVIOUS | NEXT | TABLE OF CONTENTS