Pray Without Ceasing

By David J. Stewart

1st Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”

       Do you know why the Bible commands us to PRAY WITHOUT CEASING? I believe it is because there is simply too much to pray about. Prayer is work, plain and simple, which is why most believers don't do it. Prayerlessness is akin to the sin of atheism, because atheists don't pray either. Philippians 4:6-7 teach for Christians to pray about everything, placing all matters into God's hands; that we may have the peace of God, which passeth ALL UNDERSTANDING.

Evangelist John R. Rice (1895-1980) teaches in his booklet, “WHY PRAY? ...

Commanded to Pray All the Time

Again, why pray? Because we are commanded to pray all the time. You say, “I don't see how that is possible.” Well, since God commanded it, and it is repeated so many times in the Bible, don't you think we had better take it to heart and pay attention to it and learn what God means and learn how to do that which seems impossible?

Pray all the time? Yes. Many Scriptures say so. One is in Luke 18:1, “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” Men ought to pray all the time. They ought never get tired, discouraged. “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”

Jesus goes from there to give a parable. He said,

“There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. [The American Standard Version has it clearer, “I will avenge her, lest she wear me out by her continual coming.”] And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?”

He said it again in Romans 12:12. There the Scripture says a Christian ought to be “rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.” Not praying frequently, not praying regularly. All that is right, but that is not what He said. He said, “ . . . continuing instant in prayer.” Does that mean always on the alert in prayer? Evidently. Oh, a Christian ought to pray all the time.

You say you don't see how we could pray all the time. Then, you had better pay attention for that is what God is plainly saying here. You say, “Brother Rice, surely God didn't mean that literally you should pray all the time.” Well, we already know that is what He said; we will argue about what He meant a little later. But there can be no doubt that He said Christians should be, “continuing instant in prayer.”

...Oh, that men ought to pray all the time, with all kinds of prayer and with all kinds of supplication and begging and perseverance and for all the saints.

My, what a lot of “alls” in there! And notice—“supplication.” He said all in one verse, “always” and “supplication” and “perseverance and supplication.” He is talking about persistent, never-ceasing prayer. A Christian ought to pray all the time.

SOURCE: WHY PRAY?, by John R. Rice; Pages 4-6; Sword Of The Lord Publishers, 1975; ISBN: 0-87398-915-5

I agree with Dr. Rice, who said on page 3 in his opening remark, “I am persuaded that the average Christian doesn't pray three minutes a day.” I sincerely doubt if most Christians even pray, until something bad happens and they need God's help. Oh, how selfish we can be if we don't purpose in our mind and heart to please God with our thoughts, words and behavior. Hebrews 11:5 says that Enoch walked with God and had this testimony... THAT HE PLEASED GOD! Amen! The next verse says that it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God without faith.

The Christian is not supposed to have a prayer life; but a life of prayer!

Prayer and faith are inseparable my friend. This is evidenced by the Lord's teaching on persevering prayer in Luke 18:1-8, and then He finished His parable with this Scripture on faith, “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). The believer who doesn't pray lacks faith, for if he truly feared God with whom we all have to do one day (Hebrews 4:13), then he would be compelled to depart from evil and obey the Lord. Hebrews 4:13, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”

Notice the phrase in Luke 18:7, “though he bear long with them.” The Greek word for the phrase “he bear long” is makrothumeo and means “to be long spirited, that is, (objectively) forbearing or (subjectively) patient.” My friend, do you know what it means to FORBEAR? It means not to do something. It means God doesn't do anything when we pray. The Bible is saying that God makes us continue praying because He is pleased by that. This is an important truth. Many people complain that God never answers their prayers. That's because they waver in faith and don't continue in prayer as Luke 18:1-8 teaches. James 1:6, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”

Biblical prayer is persevering prayer. Now for ourselves the Lord told us not to pray long prayers (Matthew 6:7-8). But the Lord wants us to think on the things of OTHERS (Philippians 2:4-5, 20-21). God wants us to get out of the SELF life. The world lives for self and sin. Christians ought to live for God and others. This is why we are told to pray for others; such as in 1st Timothy 2:1, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.” Verse 4 gives us the context of this Scripture passage, 1st Timothy 2:4, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Our prayers for others ought to be bathed in concern for getting them saved. Pastor Jack Hyles explains intercessory prayer (Priests And Intercessors) in his awesome book titled, Exploring Prayer With Jack Hyles.

Dr. John R. Rice further teaches believers HOW to pray without ceasing. This is such an important subject to preach on, for prayer is what unties God's hands to bless us and do mighty works through our labors. James 4:6 warns that God giveth grace (help, Hebrews 4:16) to the HUMBLE, but God resisteth the PROUD. If you don't pray and abide in the Scriptures, then you are saying that you can do it alone and don't need God's help. It is sinful pride and God avoids the proud. If we don't pray and don't live in the Scriptures, then God's hands are tied because we will be filled with arrogance and false humility if God blesses us in spite of our lack of prayer. I believe this is why God is pleased by our persistence in prayer.

Prayer Needs to Continue in the Subconscious Mind

Somebody says, “I don't see how I can do that.” But it is commanded. Here it is again in I Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.” Pray without stopping. Pray day and night. Pray all the time. Any honest translation of that has to come out saying that God intends us to pray all the time.

Well, how can one pray all the time? You say we sometimes have to work. I know, but one can still love his wife and whistle songs and know when quitting time comes—while you are conscious of other things. You can pray doing your work. “Well sometimes one has to stop and eat,” you say. I know, but you don't stop talking when you eat. So you don't have to stop praying, either. Your heart should cry to God when you eat, the same as when you talk and eat.”

You say, “But sometimes I've got to sleep.” Yes, I know but even when you sleep, somebody lives there. Maybe in the night you set a time when you have to get up in the morning. You don't have an alarm clock, so what do you do? You have to catch a plane (or a bus or go to a new shift on the job). how will you get up? You set your internal alarm clock and you wake yourself up at a time you never would wake otherwise. In the subconscious nature, one can take on a burden about it and wake yourself up. Many, many people have found that to be true. Somebody lives there even when you are asleep.

...You put this down: if this Christianity gets down deep enough in your soul, down in your subconscious nature, and you get burdened for souls and burdened to have the power of God, that part will be there when you are asleep, too, and your heart can cry out to God. You know, a Christian isn't much of a Christian except on the inside, down below the surface of consciousness.

SOURCE: WHY PRAY?, by John R. Rice; Pages 6-7; Sword Of The Lord Publishers, 1975; ISBN: 0-87398-915-5

when the saints pray, and God DOESN'T do anything, he is still pleased that you are continually to pray, and eventually God will answer if you don't quit.


Though He Bear Long With Them

Luke 18:6-7, “And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?”

Most believers pray and then quit because God doesn't answer right away. They don't understand the nature of God and prayer. It is standard for God not to answer right away, because the Bible plainly says He is pleased by our persistence. If we don't faint and quit, then Jesus said the Father would avenge us and answer our prayer.

The Greek word for the phrase “he bear long” is makrothumeo and means “to be long spirited, that is, (objectively) forbearing or (subjectively) patient.” My friend, do you know what it means to FORBEAR? It means not to do something. It means when God doesn't do anything in response to your prayer. The Bible is saying that when the saints pray, and God DOESN'T do anything, he is pleased that you are continually to pray, and eventually God will answer if you don't quit.

Please don't miss this truth. The Bible is teaching that God is please NOT to answer our prayers without a struggle. The widow was being ignored by the unjust judge. The judge heard the woman, but he didn't care (he was unjust, that is, unfair). He was a crooked judge, literally. This evil judge no doubt took bribes and gifts to pervert justice. Yet the Bible says this wicked judge gave the widow what she wanted just to make her go away. Likewise, but in contrast as well, the Bible says that God is pleased when His children have to struggle in prayer, continually making requests that He does not answer right away, making them persevere in prayer to receive what they ask.

Why does God do this to us? Why would God make us beg and beg. Luke 18:8 gives us the answer... The Lord says, “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Ah, it is a matter of faith. Hebrews 11:6 says that it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God without faith. Enoch in Hebrews 11:5 had this testimony... THAT HE PLEASED GOD! Enoch pleased God because he had FAITH!!! Prayer is asking, and asking is faith. James 4:2, “yet ye have not, because ye ask not.” Therefore, continually asking is greater faith, and faith pleases God.

I wonder how many people have prayed 9-times for something, but then quit, and on the 10th prayer God would have answered. The Bible plainly teaches in Luke 18:1-8 that God doesn't answer our prayers right away because it pleases Him for us to have to ask repeatedly and continually. God wants our fellowship. Verse 8 challenges believers, asking if the Lord will find faith when He returns (and this verse is spoken in relation to PRAYER). Will Christians be persevering in prayer for OTHERS when the Lord returns? Will believers be burdened about lost souls? Have we given our sweat to God? Have we labored in prayer?

It is easier to get a large amount of work done if you break it up into smaller amounts. I believe this is perhaps one reason why God tells us to pray without ceasing. Prayer is the most important thing we do in our daily life. Jesus told the disciples to pray that they enter not into temptation. Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Pray, pray, pray my friend.

“You'll never place enough emphasis on the Church.”  
—Dr. Jack Hyles
(The Substitutes For The Church)


In All Thy Ways Acknowledge Him, And He Shall Direct Thy Paths

Pastor Jack Hyles teaches about laboring for the Lord in this timeless MP3 sermon, In All Thy Ways Acknowledge Him, And He Shall Direct Thy Paths. We will be rewarded according to our labors. Our part in Proverbs 3:6 is to “IN ALL THY WAYS ACKNOWLEDGE HIM”; but God's part is “AND HE SHALL DIRECT THY PATHS.” If we do our part, then God has promised to do His part.

For example: A young woman ought not prepare to be a successful wife; but rather to work hard at being a wife. A young woman ought to work hard in preparation to be a wife, as someone would diligently prepare to be a doctor. You quit trying to decide how it's going to turn out, and you just roll your sleeves up and do your best. You be the best wife or husband you can be and trust God with the outcome. God is the Masterbuilder. Friendship is a gift from God. Our part is to work hard at being a friend, and trust God to do the rest. Our part is to labor in prayer continually, and trust God to do the rest.

Likewise, a young man in Bible college ought not prepare and fantasize about having a successful ministry; but rather, work hard to please God by getting the job done! You focus and work hard to be all that you ought to be; but don't decide the outcome or try to direct your own ways. That's God's department. May we all serve God and let God control the outcome. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:38 that it was God's will for some believers to be fed to lions, executed and imprisoned. It may be God's will for you to lose your legs. It may be God's will for you to spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair. It was God's will for the man in John 9:1-5 to be born blind.

It was God's will to cripple Jacob for the rest of his life, permanently disabling him (Genesis 32:25). I have accepted it as God's will that I am permanently afflicted with constant toothache-like neck pain, and painful peripheral neuropathy shooting down my arms and legs (and making my arms feel doubled in size, tingling and spasms of burning all over my body). My afflictions have humbled me and taught me the grace of God as never before. Psalms:119:67 and 71, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. ...It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”

Our part is to acknowledge God in all our ways, laboring to please the Lord. But God's part is to direct our paths in life. God may take us in directions that we did not want to go. God led Joseph into imprisonment as a slave in Egypt; but God was directing Joseph's steps. Trust the Lord. Let God take care of the marriage. Let God take care of the friendship. Let God build the church. God determines the outcome. Our part is to labor. Your part is to labor hard to reach people for Christ. You'll be miserable if you have plans and dreams. Let God take care of that. Your part is to get to work! Spend the time you spend at the lawyer's office, instead reading good books on how to be a good wife. Let God direct, you work hard and follow. Burn all those how to be successful books! If you live in the Bible, pray continually and trust the Lord, then you will be as successful as you can be in the Lord.

1st Corinthians 3:8-9, “Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.” You and I are God's building!!! He is the Masterbuilder! You labor for the Lord (1st Corinthians 3:6-7). You can't acknowledge Him if you're over here directing your own path. You're doing His work and not doing your work. So your work and His work go undone, because you're more concerned about results than doing what you're supposed to do. Don't be more concerned about results than you are about getting the job done. END


Unanswered Prayers

Here is an excellent quote from the mighty preacher and man of God, Brother Lester Roloff, concerning unanswered prayers . . .

The thing that will reveal your faith is praying when no answer comes. That's the supreme test. I've gone over a number of chapters in the book of Job again. In one of them, Job said, "Oh that I knew where I might find Him." He was looking for God. Can you imagine? He was the best man God had and he couldn't find Him. He said "Lord, I want you to show me why you're doing this to me. We've always been on good terms and you've been my best friend. I'm not against you and am not going to turn against you, but I need an explanation and I want you to give it." But the Lord didn't pay him any attention. I imagine the Lord just kind of smiled and said, "Later on. After a while."

So finally Job said "I went forward and He wasn't there. Backward. I couldn't perceive Him. On the left hand where He doth work. I couldn't behold Him. On the right hand where He hid himself and I couldn't see him." That's all the directions isn't it? Forward, backward, left, right. He said "I couldn't get one glimpse of Him." Then he said, "But He knoweth the way that I take and when He hath tried me, He will bring me forth as gold. My feet have held His steps. His way have I kept and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of His lips. I've esteemed His words more than my necessary food." That's the secret of it right there. It was the most severe test he ever had. It wasn't when all of his ten children died. It wasn't when he lost all of his camels, oxen and sheep and goats and chickens. It wasn't when he lost all of his servants. The greatest loss was not when Mrs. Job came and said, "Just curse God and die." That wasn't his most severe test. That was just part of it.

Then three fair-weather friends came and looked at him and they didn't speak for seven days. Not one word. Finally they opened their mouths and skinned him and scalded him and scathed him and ate him up alive. But that wasn't his greatest test. Do you know what the greatest test was? You've never been there until you've reached this place, and that is when you look up to God and there's not any God. You just pray like you used to pray and there's no answer. There's no response. There's no God. There's no feeling and your faith is severely tested. But let me tell you something. You're going to have to learn to believe God when you cannot perceive God. You're going to have to learn to "faith" Him when you can't feel Him. Unless you do, you're going to be in bad shape before this thing's over with. There'll come a time when God reserves the right to cut you completely loose from Him and then see what your faith will lead you to do. "In all this, Job sinned not nor charged God foolishly."

SOURCE: Brother Lester Roloff, from the sermon titled, Something Everybody Can Do

The Christian is not supposed to have a prayer life; but a life of prayer!


EXPLORING PRAYER WITH JACK HYLES

John 16:20, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.”

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