Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Do you remember the first time you read this command? As a new believer, encountering this truth, I thought to myself, “How in the world is that even possible? Sure, Jesus and Paul could pray unceasingly, but I am a mere babe in Christ.” But in reading the Scriptures and talking to knowledgeable believers, it became clearer that there is a multitude of ways to pray. There is a formal prayer where you set aside time to pray in your “prayer closet”; there are prayers at meals, prayers at church and in Bible study with other believers. But then I discovered that sharing your thoughts iwth God throughout the day can be a type of praying as well. My prayer life was revolutionized.
At any moment, you and I can pray to God the Father on His throne, through God the Son, Jesus Christ, with the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the only mediator between God and men, and as the only High Priest to God, is the only person who can hear and pass prayers directly to God the Father. God the Spirit or Holy Spirit, who permanently lives in true believers, assists us in our weakness because we do not always know how to pray as we should. The whole Trinity is involved in prayer! May the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer! (Psalm 19:14).
The Scriptures say in Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” Every single soul will die and come face to face with God their Maker as their final Judge. There are only two ultimate outcomes before the all-knowing and all-powerful Judge: condemned to the lake of fire for eternity or pardoned to the new heaven and new earth for eternity. The one who believes in this life in Christ is not condemned; but the one who does not believe in this life is condemned already, because they have not believed in Jesus, the only begotten Son of God (John 3:17-18).
Knowing that one’s eternal destiny hinges on hearing and responding to the Gospel before death, should move and motivate every blood-bought, born-again believer to reach out to parents, siblings, cousins, friends, neighbors, unsaved religious individuals, and even strangers with the Good News of Jesus Christ. This is priority number one. This is mission number one. This is the Great Commission….
Too help you pray with passion and priority in your concern for God’s kingdom, please read and meditate on the following passages. Write down specific prayer requests for kingdom concerns where you live, work, and worship.
When we live as lights, faithful and obedient to the truth of the Scriptures, following Jesus Christ’s word and example, we should not be surprised when the world rejects us. But if we do not properly prepare ourselves in prayer for suffering and persecution, we may undermine the very Gospel we are proclaiming….
Let us take a different approach in this chapter. I would like for you to simply read the selected Biblical accounts of various individuals who experienced persecution or suffering….
While you are reflecting on the actions and attitudes of these faithful souls, ask the Lord for courage and conviction to live wholly to Christ and His Word regardless of the cost to you in this life.
When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Mirrors are helpful. They assist us in inspecting our outward appearance. They keep us safe and others safe when driving. There are even specialized mirrors to reveal blind spots around corners. In the last chapter we focused on facing life with the Scriptures, but life does not consist of viewing ourselves only. We can’t remain in front of the mirror all day. Our gaze must extend upward and outward to fulfill our calling to love God and love people.
Imagine if tomorrow you were placed on the witness stand to prove you truly love God and others. With the courtroom cameras fixed upon you and all the world watching, what evidence could you submit that would withstand the scrutiny of an adversarial courtroom cross-examination?…
At the intersection of life and prayer is loving God and loving people. If we neglect to intercede on behalf of others, then we fail to truly love. The Bible uses a unique word for this kind of love, it is agapao. It is a love that is noble and sacrificial, rooted in the will rather than mere emotions. The Bible describes this kind of love in so many amazing ways. There is one particular passage about love in the Scripture that is often quoted at weddings.
Facing life with the Scriptures is not a “one and done.” Rather it is a daily pattern and practice of true believers….
Facing life with the Scriptures requires that you turn to the Lord with all your heart, soul, might, and mind. So how do we cultivate the kind of prayer, passion, and courage of Hannah, Daniel, and Josiah?
It begins with the right thoughts followed by the right actions. Let me express this as a formula:
information + application = sanctification
Bible + obedience = godliness
Real change through prayer happens when godly thoughts join godly actions. Consider memorizing the following passages to help you face life with the Scriptures.
Hello and welcome to the 2019 Prayer Encouragement Project! I’m excited about partnering with you to go deeper in prayer in 2019. We’ll be looking at mnemonics to use the days of the weeks to organize our prayer requests, learn from the shortest prayers of the Bible, and how to keep our prayers from being blocked!
As we get started – would you be willing to time how long you pray tomorrow? Don’t send the results to me – just make a note in your journal. While there is no spiritual points for how long you pray – I’d encourage you to time yourself because often we over-estimate how much time we spend with God, and under-estimate how much time we spend elsewhere.
The average American prays about 1 minute per day. Unfortunately we use our phones about 215 minutes per day. If you want to know how much time you spend on your phone, use Screen Time for iOS, or Antisocial for Android.
US adults will spend an average of 3 hours, 35 minutes per day on mobile devices in 2018
Don’t be discouraged – pray that God will help you learn how to pray this coming year! If you haven’t signed up for our email list, please do – you’ll get links to free books from 4 great authors like E.M. Bounds, D.L. Moody, and more.
Finally, invite a friend to join with you! The best way to grow is with accountability – whether it’s at the gym or reading your Bible or anything! Share with them about 2019pray.org!