Thessalonians 5:17-18 (NIV)
Several places in Scripture (1 Samuel 12:23; Acts 12:5; Romans 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:17 and 2 Timothy 1:3) mention is made of ceaseless prayer. Such a notion seems impossible for us to fathom. How can anyone pray all the time? Is it possible? Well, enough commands and examples of ceaseless prayer are made in Scripture that we must find some way to explain it and learn how to obey this biblical command.
Certain people seem to have a special facility in prayer. They confess privately that they spend hours in this important spiritual exercise daily. My own mother was an example of a person who prayed for at least 3 hours daily. Three places in her modest apartment contained a Bible, some devotional books and an all important list of things for which to pray.
Perhaps 25-30 years ago I read an article that showed the results of a survey on prayer taken among evangelical pastors in the USA. Because the survey was anonymous, the people surveyed were given opportunity to be very honest without any risk of being exposed. The sorrowful fact was that a large majority of pastors spent less that 10 minutes a day occupied with prayer. In the New Testament we read about the prayer lives of the ministers in the church in Jerusalem and it says Acts 6:3-4 (NIV)
“Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you
who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.
We will turn this responsibility over to them
and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
So the practice in that early church was that the ministers prayed much every day. Well, some would suggest that pastors can devote large blocks of time each day to prayer but when a person has to spend 40 hours a week making a living, that reduces the time available to pray.
Yet we cannot dodge the matter that easily because our verses today are written to people who likely worked 60 hours a week and still Paul told them to pray always. Can I suggest that this command to have ceaseless prayer is more than talking in our heads to God all the time? Might the idea be that all of us who are followers of Jesus need to have an attitude of prayer? I think so.
Christians need to understand that a prayer can be just a few words that can rise from our hearts while we drive the car, walk to the bus, hang up the phone—after speaking to some person in pain—or when we read in the newspaper of a tragedy or hear about it on the radio.
We certainly need to pay attention to our work whether it is operating a car, a machine at work, flying an airplane, or any other activity that requires concentration on our part. A prayer can be uttered in an instant when necessary. A groan under a burden can be understood as a prayer by the Holy Spirit Who then takes that wordless sound and converts it into a powerful petition before the Father in heaven.
Do not be discouraged that you do not have the ability or time to sit quietly for hours each day engaged in prayer. Pray as/when you are able and be ready anytime, anywhere to speak a word to your Father in heaven. He knows your heart and your intention in prayer. Trust Him and pray always.