I wanted to get better at running. Mainly is that I never could run for long distances and wanted to challenge myself. I could sprint but would burn out pretty quickly. There are two older gentlemen at our church that love running and they invited to join them. I did it and they blew me out of the water.
Part pride and part realizing that men who are older than I could outrun me caused me to want to get better at running. I started to run, more and more and finally was able to run the farthest that I ever did without stopping. I started to research more on what I needed to do to build endurance. I looked at what were some healthy ways to push myself without injuring myself.
Like running a long distance takes some time to build up to, so does having a healthy prayer life. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessolanica a list of Christian disciplines. These come out almost like Tweets. He writes, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 These 5:16-18).
Sandwiched in these verses we read to pray without ceasing. What does that mean? As a simple definition it means to invest oneself in regular extended and strenuous prayer.
To invest oneself in regular extended and strenuous prayer
Where does it start?
Prayer as a Lifestyle
First, it requires us to look at prayer as a lifestyle not just a spiritual discipline. In fact there should be no separation from prayer and being a Christian. Christians should pray. A. W. Pink wrote, “Prayer is not as it is an attitude-an attitude of dependency on God.”
R. C. Sproul said, “Prayer is not optional for the Christian; it is required.” With that, one must not compartmentalize prayer as just a spiritual discipline but as it is constantly casting oneself in total dependency upon the Creator who is sovereign over all.
Understanding that prayer is dependency upon God, it helps in understanding that prayer is asking God to help us to know and do His will.
Prayer as Priority
Second, we must see prayer as a priority to that of being a Christian. To the early church it was a priority. There are many references where we see the first church praying.
- After Jesus ascended to heaven and commissioned the church to be witnesses and to wait for the Holy Spirit they went to the upper room and prayed (Acts 1:8, 14).
- We see that the early church devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching, fellowship breaking of bread, and of prayer (Acts 2:42)
- Peter was going to prayer in the temple as an opportunity as God healed a man (Acts 3).
- Through prayer God used that to communicate with Peter and Cornelius bringing about the Gospel going to the Gentiles (Acts 10).
- The church met and prayed for the release of Peter from prison (Acts 12:5).
- The church prayed and asked God for direction on where and who to send out as missionaries (Acts 13:2-3)
If it was priority and consumed so much church life, then wouldn’t prayer be important for the believers today? I wonder what it would look like if prayer was a priority for the church in America. Where we cast our whole selves before Him and realizing who we are in light of who God is. A. W. Tozer said, “Prayer at its best is the total expression of the total life.”
Let us strive to not only make prayer a priority but also the lifestyle of the Christian.