It seems at least once each winter a nasty cold makes its way through our household. Not just the run of the mill, seven days of sniffles variety. I mean the up five times a night, rocking, congestion, fevers, and the coughing. Oh the cough! That barking, croupy cough the lasts for a month and interrupts each hour of the day and night with its persistence. Maybe not a pleasant image, but that same persistence should permeate and guide our prayer life. In I Thessalonians 5:17 Paul says simply, “Pray without ceasing.” The Greek word for ‘without ceasing’ is the same word used for the hacking, persistence of that cough. Our prayers should constantly permeate our thoughts, interrupting our day, filling our concern and overflowing from our hearts. I know too often my prayers are just the ‘morning cough,’ or maybe the 'night time' cough. This verse challenges our prayers to come without ceasing, non-stop.
How do we accomplish that? By God’s grace and power, of course. What should that constant prayer life look like? I turned to Ephesians 6:18 for a wonderful description of our potential prayer life. “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”
Sometimes my heart cries out to pray, but I don’t even know where to begin. Right now, a situation we are dealing with in a family of one of ‘our’ boys often comes to mind for prayer, but I don’t even know what to pray for. Gratefully, the Spirit comes alongside sometimes with groans that words could not express (Romans 8:26). Our prayers show that our lives, and even our prayers themselves require constant reliance on Him.
Of course, we won’t feel drawn to pray if we do not remain on the alert, looking for opportunity, people, and situations requiring prayer. Sometimes I desire to pray, but instead find myself distracted, annoyed, judgmental, bitter, depressed, overwhelmed, or self focused. Especially then, I should pray. Prayer needs to become both a habit and a mindset, a pulling away from our thinking and a refocusing in His way of thinking.
I have much of the habit established. I pray each morning using my calendar which includes prayers for my children, husband, myself, extended family, current needs, and other ministries and missionaries. Each night I pray again for my husband and other needs that come to mind. However, I need to continue to work on growing that attitude of prayer throughout each day.
Some things that have worked for me in this area:
- Keep missionaries’ prayer cards visible, and pray when you come across them
- Pray with kids during family Bible time
- Pray right away when you say you will (when I send off a quick email or post a comment saying I will pray, I do it right then, as well as when it comes to mind in the future.)
Some other ideas I desire to continue to input into my prayer life:
- Pray outloud (I have done this in the past and it really helps me stay on track)
- Use prayer triggers (pray for our nation when you pass a post office, pray for teachers when you pass a school, pray for missionaries when you get to a red light, pray for your husband when the phone rings, etc.)
- Pray while doing housework (vacuuming, dishes, and laundry can be mindless, or prayer filled!)
- Pray at certain times of the day (10:00 for your husband, 1:00 you and a friend pray for each other, 3:00 for the children of our nation, etc.)
I’m sure there are many more ideas you can come up with to make prayer a habit and a heart condition, a constant persistent state of mind.
I look forward to keeping alert this week, persevering in prayer for my family and those around us. That cough never lets up, and neither should my prayers.
Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.