To do something worthy and worthwhile "without ceasing" is commendable. It calls for one to have a determined purpose and to be true and faithful to it. One who portrays well for us a person of such character is the Apostle Paul. "…laboring night and day…we preached unto you the Gospel of God," he reminded the Thessalonians (1 Thes. 2:9), revealing great intensity and faithfulness in his labors for the Lord Jesus Christ. In his farewell address to the Ephesian Christians he said, "…by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears" (Acts 20:31), indicating a deep, enduring love for souls.
And as zealous as were Paul’s labors for the heavenly kingdom, they almost certainly did not exceed the diligence of his prayer life. It was doubtlessly day and night prayers that enabled him to labor and love to the extent that he did. His teaching and preaching would have been born out of and accompanied by prayer. It is not hard to believe that as he labored in his tent-making occupation, he also mingled prayer with work. Paul’s long journeyings gave time to send many intercessions heavenward, perhaps with companions joining in. And oh, the depth of the prayers he prayed while in prison! For examples see Ephesians 1:15-23, 3:14-21 and Colossians 1:9-11.
Pray Without Ceasing
Paul admonished the Thessalonian believers (and us as well) to "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thes. 5:17). The Lord Jesus Christ, after whom Paul endeavored to model his life, is our supreme example of full dependence upon God, sought through a life of continual, Spirit-directed prayer. Jesus declared, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do" and again, "I can of Mine own self do nothing…I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father…" (John 5:19, 30). Oh, that we frail humans might realize and live as though we even more than Christ, can do nothing of ourselves, and rely instead on the Almighty, Eternal God, to whom all things are possible and who promises a listening ear to the prayers of the righteous! Might more of us develop a "continual stream of prayer" flowing from our hearts, as one expresses it. How it would benefit the world! Since our lives often require us to involve ourselves in things other than kneeling in prayer, it will often be while our hands and even our lips are engaged in other tasks that our hearts must cry out to God even though words cannot be formed. And praying without ceasing would include not giving up on a burden, but persevering in faith and prayer until the answer comes or faith is assured of the answer.
Idle and idol are enemies of praying without ceasing. An idle mind is said to be the workshop of the devil, while on the other hand, a Spirit-controlled mind could profitably be engaged in redeeming the time in communion with the Lord in worship and intercession . An idol, something or someone we put ahead of God, is a robber of time and desire for prayer that could immensely bless the kingdom of God. Beware of idle minds and idols of the heart! Might we "aim high" in endeavoring to pray without ceasing.
Guard carefully those times of prayer when we are closed in with God alone or with others, specifically for the purpose of pouring out our hearts and lifting our voices unitedly in earnestly seeking after Him for ourselves and for the unspeakable needs on every hand. It has been encouraging to hear from some of you that you are participating in praying for the 10/40 Window countries. God reward you with fruit for your prayers! Hold on to your September Herald of His Coming paper in which the calendar appeared and pray through it again and again if God so leads and enables. This area of the world stands in inexpressible need of prayer. And we trust that many of you will lay it to heart to join with others in praying daily starting February 17 and continuing for forty days, using the "Seek God for the City" calendar printed in this December issue.
In a letter to Timothy, his beloved son in the faith, the Apostle Paul exhorted him that "supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority…" (1 Tim. 2:1-2). All kinds of prayer, for all people and unceasing prayer – this is a biblical call that continues down to our generation, friends! Many of us lament that we fall far short in this but we are not left without hope. God is our helper! Let us keep filled with the Holy Spirit and make fresh effort by His enabling to press toward the goal of praying "without ceasing." Especially might we look to God for such a spirit of prayer that we will "without ceasing" plead with our gracious and merciful God for the revival in our day of which D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones stirringly writes in the front-page article!