Pray Without Ceasing
Pray Without Ceasing
· Note that this is our last Sunday on the book of 1 Thessalonians.
· God has richly blessed the preaching of the word, as we have learned what the real church is like, what we should be doing as the people of God, and what we should be looking forward to in the future as our motivation for today.
· Read 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
§ There are 18 distinct commands in these last 17 verses of 1 Thessalonians!
§ A whole sermon series could be preached on them alone
§ However, today, I would like to focus on just one verse. One verse with just three words: verse 17.
§ Pray without ceasing
§ Here we have an ocean in a dewdrop and a continent in a cup.
· The people who have taught me the most about prayer in my life are my Grandmomma and Grandaddy.
§ Their prayers were instrumental in my coming to know the Lord.
§ Many of you have a similar testimony.
§ As my sister and I would often spend the night at their house, each night we would go to bed, and then hear them kneel beside their bed together and “boldly enter the throne of grace to receive help in their time of need.”
§ They would pray for us: that we would receive Christ at an early age, that God would protect and guide us, and call us into his service.
§ The would also pray for the church and the world, that the Gospel would go forth an people would be saved.
§ They also spoke often of answers to prayer, and saw God’s faithfulness everywhere.
§ I think there is a connection here, to joy and thanksgiving, and the pathway to both is through prayer.
§ It is no wonder that my Granddaddy’s favorite song was “What a Friend we Have in Jesus” This hymn boldly declares:
O what peace we often forfeit
O what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer
· They were people of prayer. I think there is something about people who lived through the Great Depression and the war. They seem to be more dependent upon prayer than we are today.
· I know this is an area where I fall far short, but desire along with you to have a greater heart for prayer.
· Why don’t we pray more? There are several reasons.
§ We are easily distracted. Our lives our very busy in the modern era.
§ Lack of discipline
§ Lack of planning
· You don’t decide this morning that you are going to take a week’s vacation to Disney world!
§ Lack of Preparation
§ We doubt if anything will happen
§ There is little awareness of real need.
· Jesus said “Apart from me you can do nothing.”
· This is my goal this morning, my heart for this message:
§ Not to beat us all over the head and make us all feel guilty for not praying. We should not pray out of duty, but out of delight in the great God in which we serve! We should be keeping that glorious Day we talked about last week in mind!
§ That God would awaken within us a desire to be committed, praying Christians.
§ That the Holy Spirit would enliven our prayers and direct the content of our prayers to the very heart and will of God.
§ And that through the sparks of prayer lit throughout this congregation flames of revival would sweep across this community.
- Prayer is Communication
- Illustration: Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico.
- Huge series of satellite disks on 38 miles of railroads.
- Mimic a telescope the size of DC
- Looking for messages from space, and to get a glimpse of the heavens
- God has a VLE (Very Large Ear) that is constantly hearing our prayers.
- We don’t have to build a large telescope to hear his voice, as we can hear it clearly by listening to His Word.
- We often turn what is meant to be a war-time Walkie-Talkie into a domestic intercom. We come to God similarly as if we were pulling through the drive through at McDonalds.
- Prayer is Constant
- If this verse said for us simply to pray, then it might not be that big of a challenge for us. However, the challenge is found in the adverb. That’s where it gets tough.
- We are called to pray continually. Some versions say without ceasing, or constantly.
- We should be continually drawn to prayer, and our spontaneous reaction to situations in life should be to pray!
- The Bible is clear about this:
- Romans 12:12 Be constant in prayer
- Ephesians 6:18 Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all of the saints.
- Colossians 4:2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
- Matthew 7:7 Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened unto you.
- Illustration: Life of Christ. He was always turning to prayer.
- He prayed at his baptism as he was coming out of the water
- He often withdrew to desolate places to pray. Luke 5:16
- He prayed all night before calling the twelve disciples
- He was praying alone when Peter made his great confession of faith
- He prayed after feeding the 5,000 and before walking on the water
- He laid his hands on children and prayed
- He prayed before his transfiguration
- He told parables about prayer
- He taught us about prayer, gave a examples of how to pray, and commands us to pray.
- He said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer.” And cleaned out the temple.
- He prayed before meals
- He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest and crucifixion
- He continues to pray for us at the right hand of the Father
- Jesus led by example.
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
- Prayer has Content
- Many people don’t pray today because they think that they don’t have anything to pray about. Here’s a few things you can pray for:
* The sick
- The lost (workers)
- Sunday School
- Power over Temptation
- Against evil
- Growth in Christian walk
- All of the saints
- Fruit of the Spirit
- Restoration of Relationships
* One of the most effective ways of praying is by linking it to the meditation on God’s Word.
- Give an example of praying through 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
Conclusion: On a Practical Level, How Can We Become More Prayerful?
- Like learning to exercise or learn a foreign language.
- The Holy Spirit will guide you: Ask Him!
- Pick a time: when you are at your best
- Pick a place: where you won’t be disturbed, but you won’t fall asleep either
- Pick a posture: kneeling, standing (most frequent in Bible), sitting, walking
- Let Scripture guide
- Pray through the Bible
- Keep a prayer journal or prayer list.
- Be sure to recognize when God answers your prayers and write them down for future encouragement.
- Pray with others
- Church/Wednesday night
- Read about prayer
- George Mueller
- Praying Hyde: Missionary to India