An Attitude of Prayer
1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us that we are to, “pray without ceasing…”. This is to be the attitude of all believers. But is this really practical in the fast paced lives that we live? How can one pray without ceasing? Is it even possible? And if not, why would God command it of us?
I thought about it this morning when I woke up after remembering that throughout the night I had been praying in my dreams. I went to bed praying, and found myself praying during my dreams too. It reminded me of a quote from a comedian that I used to listen to whoÂ said, “I hate dreaming because when you want to sleep, you want to sleep. Dreaming is work. Next thing you know, I have to build a go-cart with my ex-landlord.” But the point is this, I was amazed that I even pray in my dreams!
I have found that I can pray all throughout the day. While I am driving down the road, I often catch myself praying. When I see someone that catches my attention for whatever reason, I find myself praying for that person. When I have a conversation with a client I often hang up and pray for that person and their business. When I see my kids or my wife sometimes I will just say a little prayer for them right there on the spot.
Now these prayers are not long, drawn out prayers where I use a whole lot of “thee’s, thout’s and thithers,” (not that I pray in Old English KJV anyways), but the point is that I have an attitude of prayer throughout the day.
Several years ago, I thought about time management. I said to myself, “Self…wouldn’t it be nice to be able to divide your 24 day up into 3 equal parts; 8 hours of sleep; 8 hours of work; and 8 hours of play?” But then it dawned on me, “How much of that time is set apart for God?” If Jesus is the center of our lives and our most important relationship, how often do we really give Him throughout our day? I was ashamed of myself when I did the accounting. The sad truth is that at that time I rarely spent any time talking and listening to God. Sure, I read my Bible and other Christian material. I studied, I went to church, I even shared my faith with others frequently; however, what I discovered about myself was that I did not spend nearly enough time in my day just praying to God.
Since I had that personal revelation I have paid more attention to making prayer a habit every hour of my day. Now…I never successfully got the 8 hours of work, 8 hours of play, and 8 hours of sleep thing down (life is way too complicated to conveniently fit it all into those neat little boxes), but I have found that no matter what hour of the day that I am in, I can have communion and fellowship with the God of the Universe in prayer.
Making prayer an hourly habit soon makes it second nature. So it really should come as no surprise that I pray in my sleep too!
One of the neat things about getting in the habit of praying regularly throughout the day is that you start to see it affect your attitude about people, circumstances, and life in general. What used to really annoy me now has a minuscule impact on my attitude. I find that I am more readily able to forgive people who have offended me, I see people in a different light. Because of consistent prayer, I am better equipped to take on the challenges of the day. I find that my days go smoother when I am in consistent prayer.
Now, I wish I could say that I always do this. But the fact is that there are times where I wane in my commitment to pray. It is during these times that I find quite the opposite occurring. Instead of having a good attitude, in hindsight I see that I am more easily offended, I look at others with a judgmental attitude, I am more insensitive to my family, and I the days seem shorter, as if I have not accomplished anything of any real value.
What this has shown me is that continual, consistent prayer is essential in the life of a believer. It is something that gets easier with time as it becomes a part of who you are.
Take Away: I have heard of people who set alarms on their phone that go off every hour to remind them to pray for something or someone. I think that is a great idea. Another thing that I think is great to do is keep a list of people and things that you want to pray for daily and refer to that list throughout the day. Others set aside a specific time to dedicate to praying for people or circumstances. The hard part is being consistent, but once the habit is created then it should become second nature to you.
Look at it like your tithe. When you tithe you give the first fruits of your increase. If you were to apply this principle to your time, you would realize, like your finances, it all belongs to God anyways! If you were to devote 1/10 of every hour to prayer, imagine the impact it would have on your life and the lives of those around you. This is a challenge that I personally would like to endeavor to make a part of my own life. But whether you pray like this or not, the point is that we should be in prayer consistently throughout the day. What might at first seem like a distraction to what we are doing; working, driving, playing, whatever….will become a necessity!