How on Earth Can I “Pray without Ceasing”?

First Thessalonians challenges us to “pray continually,” (5:17) or as another version puts it, “pray without ceasing.”

Oh good grief, you think. I can barely remember to pray once a day! How in the world am I going to pray without ceasing?

Without a major theology lesson, I do not think that verse means you need to be in your prayer closet all day long, every day, just shooting requests up to God. Though it certainly points to the fact that we should pray more than 5 minutes in the morning, it more speaks of being in a continual attitude of prayer. In other words, throughout the day be ready to pray at any moment. Be ready to speak to God and hear from God anywhere, anytime. Here is a simple idea that years ago helped me to pray “spur of the moment prayers” throughout the day.   

If you are like me, I forget to do things. I have to make a list when I go to the store, or I will forget a crucial item. I need to use the event reminder on my phone or computer, or I will miss an important conference call. And “To Do” lists of chores are important to me as well.  Because I need to be reminded, a number of years ago, I thought, maybe reminders for prayer would be a good idea as well.

So I went to work to imbed in my mind that I should pray about a specific thing every time I see some common item. For example, I made a particular traffic light I went by regularly a reminder to pray for my pastor. I reminded myself to pray for my daughter every time I saw her bedroom door.

Reminders are a great way to stimulate prayer on certain issues. Believers of all ages can be taught to pray when they see something. Kids are taught to pray for whoever is hurting when they hear a siren or see an ambulance or fire truck go by. That’s why missionaries hand out cards with their picture on. “Stick this on your refrigerator so you are reminded to pray for us.”

One of the best reminders I ever saw was used by the men of a church in the Seattle area. I was speaking on prayer at their men’s retreat. As a wrap-up, the senior pastor gave each guy (more than 60 of them) a restaurant-sized bottle of Tabasco sauce–“hot sauce.” He told them to put it where they would see it every day. (He recommended their shower.) Then he said, “tell your wife why it’s there so she won’t throw it away.” Finally, he said “when you see it, I want you to pray for two things: pray that I’ll be red hot for God and pray that you’ll be red hot for God.” What a great way to get the men of his church praying one of the most powerful prayers they could pray!

Are there things you see regularly that you can use as a reminder to pray for something? Maybe you can pray for your boss’s salvation every day as you walk through the front door of your workplace. Maybe there is a church you pass each day, and you can remember to pray for your church and pastor.

Once you start to do this, other things you see will start triggering random prayer—even if you did not make it a reminder. Add some prayer reminders to your day and watch how you mind turns to pray at regularly throughout the day.

–Jonathan Graf is the author of The Power of Personal Prayer and the publisher of Prayer Connect magazine.

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