5/31/17 Taking Inventory III

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


(Part 3)

1 Thess. 5:17

Morning Meditation 5/31/17

Verse 17 says, “Pray without ceasing.”

This is Paul’s word to the church at Thessalonica. And I might add to every church since, that lays claim to be a New Testament Church. We all know the importance of prayer in the Christian life. Not too many of us feel we pray enough. So writing something on prayer will no doubt convict the writer as well as most of the readers. But when we are not doing something as we should, a reminder many times is all we need to motivate us to higher and nobler efforts.

First, let’s look at what Paul is saying. The word “pray” translates “proseuchomai”and is a word made up of two words, “pros” which means, “with regard to,” and, “euchomai” and means, “to pray to God, to wish.” It refers to the activity that we use in approaching God to express a desire that we might obtain something from Him. It is a present middle imperative verb. The middle voice is where the subject participates in the result of the act. In other words, when one prays, he does not only act as in the active voice, but he also participates in the result of the act, i.e., he is helped by what he does. The words “without ceasing” translate “adialeiptos” and means, “without intermission, incessantly, without ceasing.” It is also in the imperative mood which means it is a command. The imperative mood expresses urgency and well stressing authority. Is it safe to say that if we do His work without prayer, we are attempting it in our own strength? Jesus said to His Church when He gave the great commission, “ . . . and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world,” but we do not need to take Him for granted. If He is with us, like His Father was with Him, we need to “see what He is doing in the invisible realm, that we might by faith do it in the visible realm.” (Later in this meditation this statement will make sense to you). Prayer is the vital connection that we have with the Lord Jesus. He said, “Without me ye can do nothing (John 15:5). When Paul says, “Pray without ceasing” he is saying don’t attempt anything without Him. Seek His will about what to do. Seek His blessing while doing what He tells us to do. Seek His face in worship and growth in our own lives. When problems arise, pray about them. When we don’t know what direction to go in, seek His guidance (Psa. 32:8). This short statement of Paul includes all these things.

Now we are aware of the fact that Paul is not saying that we should get on our knees and pray without getting up and going to work, or without eating or doing any other activity. If that were what he was saying, he wouldn’t be writing this epistle. He would be praying. It does however, stress the importance of prayer being a major priority and occupying a lot of time. Many think staying on ones knees (or whatever posture you adopt in prayer) is a waste of time when you run out of things to pray for. Satan also puts this in my head. Have you ever noticed how your thoughts go wild when you are attempting to spend quality time in prayer to God?

Some have found that praying audibly helps to keep ones mind clear of those wandering thoughts. I have found that there are times when I write God a letter and sign Jesus’ name at the end. When I do it on the computer, I just delete it when I finish. I don’t particularly want others to read my private prayers because I talk to God about intimate things. Amen?!!! That helps me more than anything else concerning the wandering thoughts.

The first time the word prayer is found in the Bible is where Abram is asking (pray) Sarai to say she was his sister (Gen. 12:11). The first time it is used to describe a request from God is found in Gen. 18:30 where Abraham interceded for Sodom. It is the word Moses used in Exo. 33:18 where he prayed to the LORD, “I beseech thee (same word) show me thy glory.” So prayer is making a request or pleading with another for aid.

If we pray without ceasing, we are acknowledging our need continuously. Do we feel that need? If so, it should be expressed to the only One that we believe can help. That is unless we believe that God is always to be a last resort. I must confess I am prone to try to work things out myself, and even to seek OTHERS aid, before I go to the Lord. I say this because I believe that we need to recognize how prone we are to attempt God’s work our way. The Bible does not only say, “Pray without ceasing,” but it also teaches us to pray about everything.

Someone has said the disciples never asked Jesus to teach them to preach but they did ask Him in Luke 11:1: “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY, as John also taught his disciples.” (Caps mine for emphasis).

There was something about the Lord’s praying that caused the disciples to ask Him to teach them to pray. He gave them and us the MODEL prayer. If we follow that prayer as a model, it will help tremendously in our prayer lives. Our relationship to Him as Father is acknowledged. His name is reverenced. I have heard people ordering God around. That frightens me. God is not one to approach as one does another person. God is holy and we are unholy by nature and by choice. Our approach to Him is through Christ who is the only one that keeps his holy wrath from casting us into hell. Man is dependent upon the MERCY OF GOD and if the intercession of Christ ever played out (and thank God it won’t), we would not survive the prayer. Nadab and Abihu can explain that to you (Lev. 10:1-2). We are to pray for His coming kingdom. This means the saints are to wait expectantly and prayerfully for His coming kingdom. Are we so satisfied with what is going on on earth that we have ceased to desire His coming kingdom? We are to pray that His will be done on earth AS it is in heaven. You can be sure that heaven is in perfect harmony where everything is done exactly as God wills. We were created to harmonize with God’s will. Adam sinned and put the whole human race out of harmony. Salvation is the restoration of man to the harmony of God’s will. It will be joy unspeakable when this is reached. Psalms 16:11 says, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

I will not go further in following the model prayer. I have said enough for us to know what Jesus taught on this subject.

Jesus Himself spent time in prayer. I don’t guess any of us will ever understand the incarnation. A dear friend of mine gave me a little book recently of meditations by Arno C. Gaebelein. In the first chapter and the first paragraph he wrote: “Many years ago there was found in Asia Minor a very old Latin inscription chiseled in marble. This inscription bears an interesting witness to the faith in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ in the first century of Christianity. It presents the eternal Word, the Son of God, bearing witness to Himself. He speaks of Himself as incarnate, the Word made flesh, and then declares: ‘I am what I was—God. I was not what I am—Man. I am now called both, God and Man.’” What a testimony to faith in His deity.

Luke 6:12 says, “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” Was this needed? If so, and it certainly was or He would not have done it, it had to be the man-side of the incarnation that needed it. This is the mystery of mysteries. He did not cease to be God when He became a man. But He never acted as God as a man but acted in faith-obedience to the Father’s will. John 5:19 says, “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise..”

Jesus said that the things He was doing (present tense) He was seeing (present tense) the Father doing (present tense). This means that the miracles wrought by Christ were being wrought in the unseen realm before (or at the same time) that He was doing them in the physical realm. So Jesus as man was a man totally available to the Father to do and say what He wanted to do and say. Jesus as a man never one time pulled back at any so-called impossibility that the Father wanted to do. If the Father wanted to walk on the water in the body of His humanity, Jesus did not doubt for one second, and walked on the water like it was frozen ice.

We find this quality of obedience referenced in Isaiah 50:4-5: “The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.” This is speaking of the Son’s relationship to His Father. All you have to do is read the next verse to confirm it: Verse 6 says, “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.”

If Jesus as a man needed to pray, how much more should we? The early Church practiced prayer without ceasing as Paul exhorts here. Acts 1:14 says, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” Then after Pentecost, we are told in chapter 2:42, “And they (3,000 of them) continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (parentheses mine for emphasis). In Acts chapter three verse 1 it says, “Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the HOUR OF PRAYER, being the ninth hour” (Caps mine for emphasis). When persecution came, they prayed (Acts 4:23-31). When Peter was put into prison, Acts 12:5 says, “Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.” When Paul and Silas were thrown into prison in Philippi they prayed and sang praises and God worked a miracle and turned them loose. The early Church practiced the truth Paul taught in our text.

When the early church got so busy with benevolent work that it took the Apostles away from prayer, they ordained deacons to take care of material concerns that they might give themselves “continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).

May the Lord help us to take an inventory of our prayer lives in 1998 and if they don’t square with Scripture, let’s do something about it in 1999.

Comments left for "5/31/17 Taking Inventory III"

Leave a Comment