At the moment, John and I are working our way through a book called Wisdom In Leadership, by Craig Hamilton ( © 2018 Matthias Media) . The most recent chapter we have read is on prayer.
Hamilton reflects on a common experience to most Christians, which is that prayer is often compressed or sidelined in favour of activity. We need to get stuff done, and we feel we would accomplish more by just getting on with it, so we pray less.
But, says Hamilton, ‘[Prayer] should be the first thing I try, and the last thing I give up.’ (p.43)
I thought this was a great way to apply that short but familiar command from 1 Thessalonians 5:17, ‘to pray without ceasing’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV)
We’ve probably heard that verse before, probably realised that it doesn’t mean we should cloister ourselves away in monastic solitude for a lifetime of 24/7 prayer vigils, but probably also felt a bit guilty for not praying enough.
What if, instead, we ‘prayed without ceasing’ simply by making prayer our first stop for every task need to do and every challenge we need to face? And what if we kept up praying for that thing, every day, until God answers our prayer – either by intervening in the situation, or in us?
What if we remembered more often that our prayers to a sovereign God might accomplish more than our self-reliant busyness or our introspective worrying? I have a sneaking suspicion that a persistent and prayerful reliance on a sovereign God is more of the perspective Paul had in mind when he told us to ‘pray without ceasing’.
Live it: How would your approach to praying change if it was the first thing you tried and the last thing you gave up on?