Sometimes following biblical directives can seem like mission impossible, and one of those is found in 1 Thessalonians 5 where it says we are to pray continually. Did you ever wonder how in the world you can do that?
How can you pray continually and still keep a job, sleep, or do anything else? Some translations say “pray without ceasing” or “pray at all times.” However, any way you look at it, it doesn’t seem possible! This passage goes on to say that this is God’s will for you. It’s God’s will that you should pray continually but you don’t know how you can do that. What does this mean? Surely God knows you have to do other things and yet, there it is: “Pray continually,” “Pray without ceasing.”
I’ve just led a book study on Sherry Harney’s book, Praying with Eyes Wide Open. It’s a very helpful book, and I’ll be sharing some of Sherry’s thoughts with you.
When you think of praying, what comes to your mind? Do you see prayer as a time when you must be quiet, sit or kneel, close your eyes, and bow your head? Does it seem almost sacrilegious to open your eyes when you are praying or when someone else is? Is prayer to be reserved for those specific times in a day—or a week—when you can get in the right position and the right frame of mind for prayer? If that’s how you see prayer, then praying at all times or praying continually will continue to be an impossibility.
Did you know that the Bible gives no specific directions about your posture or the state of your eyes when you pray? You won’t find any references in the Bible demonstrating that people are praying with heads bowed and eyes closed. In fact, you’ll find many times when prayers were given standing up and with arms outstretched toward heaven. We have passages that speak of God’s people praying in the midst of a battle, while shepherding sheep, on a journey, and in both public and private places.
In John 17:1 we read that “after Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed.” We see where Solomon spread out his hands toward heaven as he prayed, and David lifted up his hands. The apostle Paul exhorted us to pray with holy hands lifted, as we read in 1 Timothy 2. Often the apostles laid their hands on people as they prayed for them.
I want to encourage you—and hopefully equip you—to see how you can pray continually, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.