November 18, 2013

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (The Voice)


R = Rehearsal
I’ve spent my life rehearsing. Rehearsing music, rehearsing answers for tests, rehearsing for plays and musicals. As a music major I spent hours upon countless hours in a practice room drilling, counting, memorizing, and learning music. When I left the practice room, I would still be rehearsing (in my head). I would think about, meditate on, visualize, and play a piece of music over and over in my mind. I would talk about it with others and even dream about it. When I say I’ve spent my life rehearsing, I’m truly 
not exaggerating.
Our focal verse this week for A.R.T. of Living is verse 17, which simply says, “pray continually.” What does it mean to pray continually? It means to pray without ceasing or to pray all the time. To do something continually means to do it over and over again. It means, in a sense, to pray as a way of life.
So how does this idea of rehearsal relate to praying continually? Let’s begin by agreeing on a basic (very simple) definition for prayer.
Prayer is intentionally communicating with God.
Basically, “pray continually” means to intentionally communicate with God all the time, over and over again, as a way of life.
God has shown me two areas that I can adjust to make “praying continually” a reality for my life. I hope this helps you in your daily life.
I can adjust my:
  • Perspective about prayer
  • Perseverance in prayer
Perspective about Prayer
As I thought about the verse, Pray continually, I asked myself this question: Why would God have put that verse in Scripture? Why would it be important for me to pray continually? So important that God put this idea throughout the Bible and particularly in Romans 12:12 where the writer uses almost the very same words …
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
“Praying continually” isn’t something God takes lightly. He’s serious about it. So, there must be a reason for it. And I believe the reason for this strong exhortation is that God wants us to change something about our perspective as we pray.
I think most of us would agree that at some point in time, prayer has been either a “have to” kind of exercise or a “things are really bad so I need to” kind of mentality. May I suggest that the exhortation to “pray continually” is a call to a serious change in attitude?
God doesn’t need us to pray for His sake; He needs us to pray for our own sake. A.W. Pink puts it this way …
Prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude 
an attitude of dependency, dependency upon God.
I believe “pray continually” teaches us the lesson that we need to be “poor in spirit. ” We need to be so dependent upon God that our mindset on prayer becomes just like our mindset about the air we breathe. We must have air to live, and we must have prayer to live! Acts 17:28 says it this way … In Him we live and move and have our being.
What is your attitude about prayer?
Do you need prayer like you need air?
Will you ask God to make this change in you if necessary?
I also believe that our perspective needs to change from, “I pray because I want the answer” to “I pray because I want God.”
Psalm 61:2b says, Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
The Rock is Jesus. He is higher than all my needs and wants. His plan is perfect because my God is perfect. Psalm 18:30 says, This God, His way is perfect; his word proves true. 
He is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
That’s an attitude adjustment that will cause us to “pray continually”!
When you pray, do you pray for answers or do you pray to get to the heart of God?
The second area of adjustment is Perseverance in Prayer.
To “pray continually” we must persevere. We must make it a habitual part of every aspect of our lives. It is one thing to continually seek God’s face and pray hard for a specific thing that is of importance to us, but what I’m referring to here is the idea of rehearsing or practicing intentional communication with God as a way of life.
Yesterday my husband, Alex, and I were sitting in a very emotional and stressful meeting at one of our children’s schools. I knew before going into the meeting that it would be difficult to hear some of the things that would be said. As the meeting began I sat quietly listening AND praying in my mind. My prayer was simple … “Lord Jesus, come.” Over and over I said this to myself. Then it became “Give us wisdom.” Over and over again I cried in my heart. “Help us,” I prayed.
This continual calling out to God became a refuge for my soul. It formed a hedge around my heart and mind. I was then able to speak, without being taken over by emotion, with confidence and wisdom. At the end of the two-hour meeting, some of those who were in attendance commented to my husband how impressed they were with the control and confidence we displayed. They were astonished by our plan and the purposeful way in which we guided the meeting. I totally laughed to myself when Alex told me that. We were not in control of that meeting at all – God was! And the prayer rehearsal that was happening on the inside of me was what made us look like maestros, when in fact God was orchestrating the whole thing!
I can thank Paul Miller and his book, A Praying Life. That’s what reminded me to pray that way during my daily dealings. He suggested taking a short phrase and praying it over and over, and it worked!
May I suggest to you a few other ways to help you learn to “pray continually”?
  • Take a phrase from a meaningful verse and rehearse it throughout your day
    • Example: Psalm 23 -“Guide me, Shepherd.”
  • Meditate on a longer portion of a verse or short passage throughout your day. Personalize the verse as you meditate.
    • Example: Psalm 91:1 -I am dwelling in your shelter today, and I will rest in your shadow, Almighty God
  • Speak God’s attributes to yourself or out loud all throughout the day.
    • Example: God, You are love, You are peace, You are faithful, You are truth, You are unchanging…
Remember this … to “pray continually” is not a learned discipline, but rather a heart attitude and moment-by-moment response to a faithful and loving Father who desires to help His children in all things.
Spend some time this week “rehearsing” with God. Click here for resources that will encourage you to “pray continually” throughout your week.