Have you ever wondered what it means to pray without ceasing? “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).”
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been teaching the Young Adults from the book of Nehemiah and I think Nehemiah 2:4 gives an Old Testament picture of this New Testament command. “Then the king said to me, ‘What do you request?’ So I prayed to the God of heaven (Nehemiah 2:4).”
This verse truly shows us what it means to pray without ceasing.
Prayer Cracks Open the Door
Firstly, the background: Nehemiah has a burden on his heart. He’s heard the walls of Jerusalem are in ruins and for four months he’s been praying about it. Then—no coincidence—the king he works for sees he’s upset and asks him this question: “What do you request?”
Amazing! God’s opening the door to answer these prayers. Nehemiah’s four months of praying are having an effect. The door to this solution is starting to crack open.
For four months, Nehemiah hasn’t forced the issue with his boss, but through prayer he’s left it in the hands of God to open and close the doors.
And the Lord has created a situation where King Artaxerxes, the ruler of the known world at the time, notices Nehemiah is feeling down that day.
Nehemiah Seeks God First
Imagine the leader of a powerful nation asking you that question. What do you request? What would you do?
What does Nehemiah do?
“So I prayed to the God of heaven!”
I love it! Nehemiah puts prayer as an important emphasis in his life. He seeks God first!
How did he pray? Did he say, “Just a moment king,” as he goes to another room and spends an hour in prayer to seek the will of God while the king sits there wondering what in the world is going on?
No. I think he simply prayed something like, “Help! What do I do? Give me favor.” Something very simple and humble that showed who his trust was in.
How to Pray Without Ceasing
This is what praying without ceasing looks like. It means the lines of communication are always open with God.
To pray without ceasing doesn’t mean you’re on your knees 24/7. But rather as you start your day, you’re communicating with the Lord—praying, telling Him about your day, praising Him, thanking Him, asking Him for help with things. And as situations change, or conversations happen, and events take place in your day, you’re going back to God in prayer.
I do this many times throughout the week including on Sundays when I’m talking to people, or when people ask for counsel. As I’m listening, I’m praying as well. “Lord help me. Give me wisdom. What do you want to say to this person?”
You can do this as well, at work or at school or around the supper table with your family. Be intentional to involve God in your life and the situations you face.
I encourage you to make prayer a priority in your day and especially as life shifts and changes.
As you will see in the book of Nehemiah, God helped him rebuild the wall but also helped him each day as the situation shifted. But it all started with prayer.
Written by Pastor Dan Kowalczyk