Monday, October 01, 2007

Pray without ceasing

A couple of weeks ago as I did my weekly e-mail devotional, I wrote asking prayer for an answer to the question of “Where to go and what to do.”

A few days later, I received an e-mail from an “online friend” in Texas that said in part, “When I read your title I immediately thought ‘Where to go - go to your knees!” What to do - pray without ceasing!”

And of course, that is THE answer!

On Sunday morning I filled in for our pastor and my message was on this very thing. As Paul wrote to the Thessalonians he said (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in all things give thanks for this (that is doing this) is the Will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”

So, you want to know what God’s will for your life is? This is it - rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in all things give thanks.

Many people will say, “That’s too simple!” Well, sometimes the toughest things to do are the very things that seem too simple. (Just ask Naaman! 2 Kings 5.)

We saw that in the Greek, these three things are “commands” which means, they cannot be based on “feelings” (as feelings cannot be commanded) but were instead based on resolve.

I am in the process of reading a set of “classics” on prayer. This is a set of 8 small books by E.M. Bounds (written in the 1800’s.). In my opinion, these are the best books on prayer ever written. Last night I read about “asking, seeking, and knocking” and something was opened to me that I’d somehow overlooked before. This is not just three terms of “request” - this is a progression! When praying, this is becoming increasingly more intense!

Bounds said, “Prayer is the helpless and needy child crying to the compassion of the father’s heart and the bounty and power of a father’s hand.” He goes on to say, “God’s willingness to answer our prayers exceeds our willingness to give good and necessary things to our children.”

He said that Jesus’ command to “ask, seek, and knock” was so forceful because He knew that if we did not receive immediate answers, that our “spiritual sloth” would come in under the guise of ‘submission’ and say ‘well, it is just not God’s will…”

He said, “Ask! And if asking does not get, then seek! And if seeking does not secure, let seeking pass on to the more energetic and clamorous plea of knocking! We must persevere!” In other words - ask, seek, knock and knock, and then knock some more!

“Praying without ceasing” is the hardest form of praying you’ll ever do - but be assured - it is, indeed, God’s will for your life!



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