One Bible passage that troubled me for years and caused me to struggle is a seemingly simple two-word exhortation: “Pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17). I wanted to obey God’s call and follow his teaching . . . but how? How was I to pray without ceasing? How could I stay aware of God every moment and communicate my love with every breath? How could anyone measure up to this spiritual expectation?
After years of struggling with this passage, the Holy Spirit breathed a simple truth of understanding into my soul that changed everything. When the veil was lifted and I saw the real meaning of this passage, joy descended and prayers were expressed with a new freedom and passion. Here is what God taught me: It is not that we have to pray continually; it is that we get to pray continually!
This is a paradigm shift of heavenly proportions. It changed everything for me, and I hope it is just as transformational for you. It is not that you and I have to pray every moment of every day. God will not be disappointed with you if you don’t pray all the time. The wonder and joy is that the Maker of heaven and earth invites you and me to commune with him at all times and in all places. When we are ready to communicate with the God of eternity, his eyes, ears, and arms are always wide open.
Prayer, in its simplest form, is about being in the presence of the God who made us and loves us. It is about relationship. When we learn to pray with our eyes wide open, we will discover in new and greater ways that we are not alone. We sense more deeply and intimately that God is with us in the depths of pain, depression, sadness, and fear. He is also present at the heights of ecstasy, joy, and delight.
So my desire for you is that in these seven days of devotions you will learn to live with an awareness of God’s glorious presence in each situation and every moment of your day. For then prayer will become natural to you. You will talk with God as a friend who is walking with you through the heights and depths of your journey of life.
During your prayer times today, practice praying with your eyes literally open. It may feel strange at first. And of course it’s not something you must do to please God. But it will help you be aware of his presence throughout your life every day.