Never Cease To Pray
Colossians 1:9-14 NIV
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[a]10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[b] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Why is prayer so emphasized even to the point that disciples or followers of Jesus are instructed repeatedly to keep on praying? There must be something about prayer that differs from all other spiritual exercises and disciplines.
Prayer is unique among all Christian spiritual activities.
For instance, teaching and learning the Word of God are absolutely beneficial but there have to be some qualifications. Both teaching and learning require a good amount of study. The one teaching or ministering must have a clear understanding of the subject matter in order to effectively share with others. The learner must have an interest in learning what is being taught. Focus and diligence are necessary.
In somewhat of a contrary, prayer can actually produce better results when we acknowledge that we don’t know all the answers, When we don’t have all the facts and when we don’t know the best outcome for everyone involved. When we don’t know we are more inclined to totally rely on the Spirit of God to direct our prayers.
In preaching and teaching, it is advantageous to be very familiar with the topic. In this manner, a person led by the Lord, will preach and teach what they have studied and been inspired by the Spirit of God to share. They depend on the Holy Spirit to give illumination and understanding to the hearers. The one sharing must have some foundation relative to the topic.
In prayer we want to pray from the Spirit more than from the mind. The mind or the intellect will limit or restrict or minimize the prayer based on the known facts surrounding the situation.
This is an example of what can happen when a person prays through the mind instead of the Spirit. Suzy is in the hospital. She has been diagnosed with what the doctors have said is an incurable disease. You are in deep, serious prayer on Suzy’s behalf. While petitioning the Lord concerning her situation, you are impressed by the Holy Spirit to pray that Suzy will be released from the hospital in three days and that she will be totally cured, healthy, whole and disease free. If you listen to your mind you may be hesitant to pray this prayer or to believe what the Holy Spirit is saying. Our minds function based on known facts. When the Spirit communicates something to us that doesn’t support the facts there is often a struggle between the soul (which is the mind, the will and the emotions) and the spirit. The spirit of a person is the real person. This is the part of us that is hopefully, sensitive to the Spirit of the Lord. From the time we are very small children, we are taught to develop and trust the capabilities of the mind. We are seldom taught, as youngsters (and frequently not even as adults) to develop a ‘spiritual ear’. To be able to hear the voice of the Lord speaking on the inside of us. Many people have trouble determining whether the voice they are ‘hearing’ on the inside is their own human spirit and desire or if it is the wisdom of the Lord speaking to them.
In this example of praying for Suzy, the known facts, as reported by the medical personnel, may have more influence in the mind than the wisdom of the Lord speaking to the inner man in prayer. The person praying may begin to rationalize and insert logic into the prayer instead of moving forward with what the Lord has said. People talk themselves out of the blessing that the Lord has for them because they believe a professional instead of God. They trust the opinion of a specialist or an expert rather than relying on the Word of the Lord. Don’t let your mind get all caught up in the FACTS. Which are greater, the FACTS or the LORD? Which is more reliable, a FACT or the Risen Savior? Remember this - our God can change the facts, but facts can never change our God.
There is a biblical account recorded in Acts 12 that records something similar to what we just shared.
Acts 12: 5 - Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
The church was praying for Peter. The Lord sent an angel to release Peter from prison. But when Peter showed up at the prayer meeting they didn’t believe it was him. Their prayers were answered but they didn’t believe the answer!
Not every believer is called to preach or formally evangelize or walk in the office of an apostle. But everyone can pray.
Luke 18:1 And He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
There are some sermons in the Bible and there are some messages of exhortation but there are many, many more prayers and all types of situations where people prayed. Jabez prayed. Gideon prayed. Daniel prayed three times a day. Paul and Silas prayed at midnight. Jesus prayed in the garden, on the mountain, by Himself and with others. Mary, the mother of Jesus, prayed. Anna the prophetess prayed. Hannah, the mother of Samuel, prayed. The disciples prayed. Kings prayed. We are not told to always lay hands on the sick, or to always cast out devils, or to always prophesy. But always pray. Never forsake communication with our Source, our loving Heavenly Father.
Preachers must be sent. Prayers only need to be bent or humble, submitted to the Lord and His Holy Spirit. Anyone can pray: any age, any time, regarding any topic or situation. Prayer is always in season. It can be applied to any circumstance: personal, professional, community, national, global, health, finance, fatigue, stress, joy, thanksgiving, sadness, lack and prosperity.
What else makes prayer unique from all other forms of spiritual pursuits? Prayer can be silent or vocal. We can pray out loud or silently with our inner voice. God hears both. A silent sermon on Sunday morning is not effective. A whispered teaching is not very beneficial to the listeners. That’s why talking movies replaced silent films pretty quickly. Messages of preaching, teaching, prophesying or exhortation are conveyed better, quicker and more accurately with words that can be heard by the intended listeners.
Quite often with prayer, the only One who needs to hear it is the One who will answer: our Heavenly Father. But we do know there are times when the people need to hear the prayer. John 11:41-42 records one such instance.
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.
I knew that You always hear Me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that You sent Me.”
There are times when there is a purpose for praying out loud. Sometimes the person or people being prayed for need to hear it to increase their faith and strength. Praying out loud, when the prayer is unctioned by the Holy Spirit, releases the will of the Father into the atmosphere and gives His angelic beings something to work with. He has given us dominion in the earth. We have a responsibility to exercise the authority delegated to us. Prayer is one of the ways we utilize this power. In prayer we also receive. Through prayer we gain the Lord’s perspective, which is essential. We need to see and understand the way He does. His vantage point is perfect and unflawed. Ours is limited, faulty and biased. We need to see what He sees, the way He sees it. Prayer is one way to do this.
We get instruction through prayer and anything else we need can be requested through prayer: wisdom, provision, healing, deliverance, more time or an extension, favor, comfort, direction, understanding - - ANYTHING!
Communion and fellowship are developed and strengthened through prayer for both natural and spiritual relationships. The family that prayers together stays together. We can work out our differences more easily when we pray together. There is no bond like a prayer bond.
Finally, prayer is unique because it is a journey, not a destination. We are not desiring to get so far in God and then stop…thinking we have ‘arrived’. There is no such place in the Lord. We are to be continuously forging ahead with power, with confidence, with humility, with authority until He says, “It’s enough.”
According to the book of Revelation, our prayers have more power and are more effective than most of us realize. Activity in the heavenly realm includes and is partly directed by our prayers! Many of us have an attitude of hoping for the best but fearing the worst instead of having unwavering confidence in the Word of the Lord.
8 And when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb (Christ), each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of fragrant incense, which are the prayers of the saints (God’s people).
3 Another angel came and stood at the altar. He had a golden [a]censer, and much [b]incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints (God’s people) on the golden altar in front of the throne. 4 And the smoke and fragrant aroma of the incense, with the prayers of the saints (God’s people), ascended before God from the angel’s hand.
Prayer is often neglected because people fail to grasp the emphasis placed on prayer in the spiritual realm. Prayer is a weapon. We are in a battle. We don’t want our weapon to be immobilized, getting dusty laying on a shelf somewhere when we need it! Many people hope to win but they don’t expect to win and their prayer life shows it.
So why should we be even more diligent in prayer? Why are we instructed to never cease to pray?
Romans 8:18-19, 22
18 For I consider [from the standpoint of faith] that the sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us! 19 For [even the whole] creation [all nature] waits eagerly for the children of God to be revealed.
22 For we know that the whole creation has been moaning together as in the pains of childbirth until now.
There is a glory that is to shine forth from the people of God. All of creation is in distress and ill at ease waiting for us to assume our delegated positions of authority in God. We can only do that through close and regular communication with our Lord. We are required to submit to and yield to everything He is. We find out what those characteristics are through relationship. Relationship is developed by spending time with Him and His Word. We are responsible for finding out what His will is and then doing it. This is one reason we keep on praying. This is what the Father says in Jeremiah 29:13.
And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.
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