Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NASB)
“BOYS!!! GO TO BED!” I yelled.
Exhausted. That word describes how I felt in that moment and honestly … many other moments just like it for days. The boys were in their beds, giggling up a storm, and I knew if they didn’t go to sleep soon, we’d all pay for it in the morning.
Quiet reigned for just a few minutes, until I heard the giggling and silliness start again.
The quiet that came after was quickly broken by a pair of 6-year-old feet padding down the hallway.
“Are you coming to pray with us before we go to sleep?”
I have to be honest. I was hoping the boys wouldn’t notice. I knew I had skipped prayer that night, but I was just so tired. I deliberately pushed the thought to the back of my brain because I figured the boys wouldn’t care anyway.
“Baby, I think we can skip prayer tonight. We’ve prayed a few times together already today anyway.”
“No we can’t, Mom! Those were prayers for the daytime! We need a prayer for the nighttime, too. We have to thank God for the day and you have to ask Him to help me have good dreams! Come on, Mom! We just have to talk to God!”
There I sat, feet up on the couch, hand over my forehead, realizing I was actually trying to talk my child out of praying.
But my son, even at a tender young age, understood something with his childlike faith.
He understood how prayer offers an ongoing opportunity to talk to God and an open invitation for Him to talk with us. My son was not satisfied that previous prayers earlier in the day had been completed or checked off the list. Rather, he wanted to have yet another conversation with God where he could express thanks and ask God to intervene in his circumstances.
He understood God is not something to do, He’s someone to know, and prayer is how we engage fully in our relationship with Him.
And here I was, trying to talk my son out of doing just that.
We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, to “pray without ceasing.” For many of us this verse brings a bit of trepidation as we contemplate exactly what is required of us to pray and to “do it right.”
We look at our busy schedules and think we don’t have time to do that much praying.
We rehearse our failures and decide God probably wouldn’t have much to say to us, or have much interest in listening to what we want to say to Him.
We let disappointment from one unanswered prayer keep us from asking again.
We let the seemingly well-done prayers of others push our spiritual confidence into a corner. There, the little desire we did have to pray sits, shrivels and grows smaller with each passing day as we hesitate to say something, anything, to the God who does not grade us on our rhetoric.
Neither our schedules nor our pasts should prevent us from talking to God about whatever concerns us. A previous disappointment or our current level of spiritual maturity shouldn’t get in the way of our willingness to speak freely and honestly about how we need Him or what we’re thankful for.
Prayer is simply open and honest communication with God. It involves our thanksgiving, repentance, requests and willingness to surrender to what He reveals to us in His Word and in our hearts.
It can be tempting to skip, forget about or even talk ourselves out of praying, but prayer is a key part of how we fully engage in our relationship with God Almighty.
Just like my son wanted to include conversations with God as a normal, ongoing part of his day, Scripture encourages us to pray and keep an open line of communication with God, talking to Him at anytime about anything.
Dear God, Thank You for the ongoing opportunity I have to talk with You. Forgive me for times when I have not made my conversations with You a priority. Please help me remember I can always communicate with You openly and honestly, as You already know what I think, how I feel and what I’ve done — and You love me anyway. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.