PRAYING WITHOUT CEASING!
So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father (Colossians 1:9-12).
Pray without ceasing (1Th 5:17).
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere (Eph. 6:18).
Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart (Col 4:2).
Praying without ceasing.
Continuing in my study in Colossians, I am once more stopped in my tracks over Paul’s insistence that we pray without ceasing. Paul, almost without exception, began his letters by speaking a blessing and a prayer over those who would read them. Looking into Paul’s prayer life, and the way he spoke to those who were struggling to endure and persevere in the Christian life, reveals that this man first of all, knew his God, and because he knew and loved his God, he loved God’s people. After he speaks blessings of grace and peace over them, he thanks God for some aspect of their faith which he has recognized, and prays for some area in which they are in need.
In my times of greatest distress I have learned that when I don’t know how to pray, or when I shut down and can’t pray, I can cast the burden onto the Word of God, taking those God-breathed prayers which are already written in the Word, lifting them up as sweet smelling incense to His throne, and speaking them aloud before the heavenly host, claiming my God-given, Biblical authority to His promises. Claiming His “Yes and Amen”—presenting His promises as a bank note to be cashed. There is more power in praying His word than anyone can imagine, yet it remains a hidden power because so few of us cash in on His promises. So often we go about groveling as beggars to God, pleading with Him to please be “with us” or to help us or do something for us, when there are magnificent promises lying there waiting to be claimed and proclaimed in front of that enemy who loves to beat us down.
Because the enemy loves to beat us down with our doubts, failures, sins, faults, we go slinking before the throne of God asking one more time for His forgiveness—“Oh please forgive me Lord, I know I have asked You to forgive me for this already a thousand times, but please forgive me…” The enemy does not have the right to hammer you with your past sins—but he doesn’t want you to know that. This cycle can be turned completely around by proclaiming Scripture “Lord, I have confessed this sin and You are faithful and just to forgive this sin and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Thank You Lord Jesus that this is under Your blood and I am forgiven. I not only repent of this sin, I renounce it–casting it off of me.” Those on this “sin/confess/sin/confess” cycle, become discouraged and frustrated with being constantly beat up by the enemy because of their failures. Instead, try thanking Jesus that He knows, that He forgives and that this sin cannot have dominion over us because it is under the blood of Jesus Christ. Proclaim it—the enemy is solidly defeated in our lives when we pray this way.
Paul-Praying Without Ceasing
What did Paul pray for when he prayed for others?
To the Roman believers: “…without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, … that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established–that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me” (Romans 1: 7-12).
To the Corinthians: “… that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:3-8).
To the Ephesians: “… that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:15-23).
“… I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height–to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:14-21).
To the Philippians: “… always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:2-6).
To the Colossians“… do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:2-3, 9-14).
To the Thessalonians: “… making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God” (1Thess. 1:2-4).
“… Night and day we pray earnestly for you, asking God to let us see you again to fill the gaps in your faith” (1Th 3:10).
To Timothy: “… without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy” (2 Tim. 1:2-4).
To Philemon: “I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, … that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus” (Philemon 1:1-6).
We can lift any one of those prayers off the pages of Scriptures and speak them aloud over those we pray for. For the God-breathed word is “alive and full of energy” according to Paul’s letter to the Hebrews (4:12). It is alive and full of energy.
Someone asked me how they should pray for a complicated court case. Since I had no idea how to discern God’s particular known will for that case, I suggested that they pray for God, the “righteous judge” (1 Pet. 2:23), to judge righteously in the matter.
God’s Word–Praying Without Ceasing
For two years I was faced with a painful emotional experience that I thought was going to destroy me. I was paralyzed with panic and fear along with something else—unbelief. As my panicked prayers left my lips, I heard a voice way in the back of my mind accusing, “He isn’t going to answer that.” Because I was being hindered by my own fear and unbelief at the time, I stopped trying to formulate my own prayers and instead went right to the prayers Paul prayed for those he loved, and I personalized them.
“God give to ____ the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of You, enlighten _____’s eyes of understanding that they may know what is the hope of Your calling, what are the riches of the glory of Your inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of Your power toward us who believe, according to the working of Your mighty power which You worked in Christ when You raised Him from the dead and seated Him at Your right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. You put all things under the feet of Jesus, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:15-23).
“… I bow my knees to You, the Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that You would grant ____, according to the riches of Your glory, to be strengthened with might through Your Spirit in his inner man, that Christ may dwell in his heart through faith; that _____, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height–to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that _____ may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to You, God who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that I ask or think, according to the power that works in me, to You be glory in the _____ by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:14-21).
“God, I pray that ____ may be filled with the knowledge of Your will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that _____ may walk worthy of You Lord, fully pleasing You, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to Your glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to You, Father who has qualified _____ to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in the light. You have delivered _____ from the power of darkness and conveyed ____ into the kingdom of the Son of Your love, in whom _____ has redemption through Your blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:2-3, 9-14).
After two years, those prayers were answered “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20).
May we stand up, take up the God-breathed scripture and speak it out loud. It is our Biblical authority—it is a part of our inheritance in Christ.
We are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus!