Monthly Archives: September 2016

How Do I Pray Without Ceasing?

There is a daily podcast/interview on desiringGod.org that is worth listening to/reading. It is called Ask Pastor John. I enjoy the questions and the answers from Pastor John is always rich in the word of God.

Zach, a listener to the podcast recently asked:

Hello Pastor John! Thanks for being such a great resource and answering hard questions in this podcast. My question for you is this: In your own words and application, what does it mean to ‘pray without ceasing’?”

Pastor John Piper had these to say:

Let’s get the text in front of us with a little bit of context, because that really has significant things to say about the little phrase. Here is 1 Thessalonians 5:15–18: “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always” — note that word — “always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” So, I start here with verse 15 just so that we can see that Paul’s burden is not just a kind of private piety when he comes to speak of prayer. This is a radical call to counterintuitive, countercultural love. Don’t repay people evil for evil. Do good to everyone always.

“Paul’s burden is not just for private piety when he teaches about prayer.”

Next verse: “Rejoice always,” which is not the kind of emotional response one would ordinarily have to being mistreated and treating others better than we are treated. You might be wounded. You might be spurned. You might be in jail if people have treated you badly. So, this is a really amazing way of life in Paul’s mind — a miraculous one. Being treated badly, returning good for evil, and all the while rejoicing always. Always doing good to those who do bad to you, always rejoicing. This is incredible.

And then comes the phrase that Zach was asking about, and it makes sense, now, a little more: “Pray without ceasing.” If that life sounds hard to you, “pray without ceasing.” And then he gives a specific example of the kind of prayer in verse 18: not just, “Help, Lord,” which, of course, we would pray, “Help all the time. I need help to live this way.” But he goes on and says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Let’s keep in mind two things about that context. One is the every’s and the all’s. 1) Do good always to everyone. 2) Rejoice always. 3) Pray always or without ceasing. 4) Give thanks always or in every circumstance. The other contextual observation is that there seems to be a deepening to the question: How? How to life? Answer: Do good always to everyone, even when they don’t do good to you. How? Rejoice always. Find your joy in something other than the way you are treated. How? Pray without ceasing. How? Be in a continual disposition of thankfulness to God.

So, in those contexts, what does “pray without ceasing,” then, mean? That is what Zach asked. And I see at least three things here that it means.

1) First, it means that there is a spirit of dependence that should permeate all we do. This is the very spirit and essence of prayer: dependence. So, even when we are not speaking consciously to God, there is a deep, abiding dependence on him that is woven into the very essence of our faith. In that sense, we are praying. We are experiencing a spirit of dependence continuously, and that kind of disposition is, I think, right at the heart of what God creates when he creates a Christian.

“There should be a spirit of dependence that permeates all we do.”

2) The second meaning that it has, and I think this is probably the one that is foremost in Paul’s conscious intention here: praying without ceasing means praying repeatedly and often. And I base that on the way he used the word audiolaptos, unceasing, in Romans 1:9. Listen to how he uses the same word for “without ceasing.” He says, “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing” —audiolaptos, unceasingly — “I mention you.”

Now, we can be sure, can’t we, that Paul did not make mention of the Romans in every minute or second of his prayers or his days or his preaching. He prayed and he spoke about lots of other things besides the Romans. But he mentioned them over and over. He mentioned them often. He mentioned them regularly. So, he says: I mentioned you without ceasing. It doesn’t mean that he was verbally and mentally always, every second mentioning them. It means that over and over, always, repeatedly, without fail, when I get on my knees, you are in my prayer. That is basically what I think he means by “without ceasing” — repeatedly and often.

3) And the third thing I think he means is not giving up on prayer. Without ceasing means: Don’t ever come to a point in your life where you say, “Prayer doesn’t work. I am done. I am giving up on prayer. I am giving up on prayer.” That would be the very opposite of “without ceasing.” It means, don’t ever do that. Don’t ever get to that point.

So, the key to rejoicing always is to pray continually; that is, to lean on God all the time and call to him repeatedly and often. Never give up looking to him for help, come to him repeatedly during the day, and come often. Make the default state of your mind a godward longing and a godward thankfulness.

“The key to rejoicing always is to pray continually.”

4) And one last thing, maybe, it would be helpful to say. I think it is important to notice that, in real life, some discipline in regular times of prayer during the day keep this kind of “without ceasing” prayer alive. I have heard enough people say that they want to pray spontaneously. They want to be always in a spirit of prayer. They don’t need set times of prayer. That is legalistic. I think that is ridiculous. I think it is unbiblical and it think it is unrealistic if they just knew themselves, because it is disciplined, regular times of prayer that fit us for the kind of spirit that enables us to enjoy the hour-by-hour, spontaneous walk with God.

“Discipline in regular times of prayer during the day keep this kind of ‘without ceasing’ prayer alive.”

And good, old Daniel in the Old Testament is a great example of this, because we know that Daniel in critical crisis moments of his life offered up quick prayers to God: “O God, help me. I am being asked something here that I don’t have an answer for.” And where did that come from? Well, Daniel 6:10 says, “When Daniel knew that the document,” — namely, that nobody can pray except to the king, — “had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” That was his pattern. He continued his pattern of disciplined, three-times-a-day prayer: praying and giving thanks “before his God, as he had done previously.”

So, the point is that Daniel lived a life that combined discipline three times a day with spontaneous encounters with God, and I think that is the way it should be with us. If we hope to pray without ceasing day and night in the way Paul calls us to, enjoying that kind of continual communion with God and that repeated coming to him, we are going to need to develop disciplined times of prayer as well.

You can find other recent and popular Ask Pastor John episodes.

Continue to pray without ceasing.

(@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including A Peculiar Glory.

Anniversaries 

September has always been a special month for me and it comes with numerous anniversaries:

August 28 – My Soteria was born. Yes, my September begins from August 28. Lovely kid. She has grown and has the inquisitivy I love. 

August 28 – 1st time live on Radio hosting a sports program with Unilorin FM. 1st time in Ilorin. All in 2015. Thank you Bayo.

August 30 – 1st official football match i watched live in flesh and blood: Shooting Stars 2-0 Abia Warriors. A brace from Sunday Adetunji. Lekan Salami stadium became the 1st stadium I watched a Nigerian League game. 2015

September 2 – 1st assignment with the engineering team in the Red base.

September 9 – Airborne for the 1st time. It was a chopper. Off to Samabri in Bayelsa. 1st trip to the field. Job came up by 15th.

September 10 – Nedu bossed into the world, trampling on the challenges brought forth, victorious as ever. 

September 15 – The beginning of my blogging experience. This blog and SoccerGunz were created. The former for Life and my experiences and the latter about football. You know I love football.

September 16 – An anniversary of the day I had my first fill of gaseous Oxygen gas. It made me cry but it filled my lungs to keep me. God has been good. He continues to be good. Thanks for your wishes.

September 18 – 1st trip to Warri. Area. When next will I be there? 2013

September 22 – Arsene Wenger was unveiled as Arsenal manager in 1996. Hate him, love him, yab him, he is a unique man and brought revolution to the game. I know you love some virtues of him.

September 25 – The adventure at FGC Odogbolu began. It was chilling Friday morning in 1998. 6 formative years. I still have a lot to write about FEGO.

That is the lot I can share. It comes with the September rains after the August break. I always look forward to this time of the year, especially the fulcrum of September – the 16th.

God will continue to keep me and you until our assignments are finished on earth. Be ready for the great feast. For now, Praise Him for today is special.

@AmosCP

Don’t Stay Down

Image result for dont stay down

There comes a time when life throws its weight against you and you are left with two options: keep fighting or just let life have its way. You are left to decide whether to accept fate or refuse to be down.

I had a relatively poor result in my 3rd year of university education and I went back to the drawing board. I switched on the imaginary DVD in my mind and clicked on “My life – 18 months ago”. I chose to watch it in black and white because I had to make some changes. I noted some areas I needed to improve, some actions I needed to take and some paths I needed to avoid. I denied myself of a lot of secular needs in order to make amends for the poor form. I was walking a tight rope and I needed to be top notch to navigate back to my initially desired goal. Things went further south after taking these actions – the next result was worse, my worst. It was a tough time for me.

 

In the Bible, the widow at Zarephath gave her last bread to Elijah and God gave her ceaseless blessings to take care of Elijah, the widow and her son (I Kings 17).

And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. – I Kings 17:17

Sadly, she must have been mad at Elijah and may have even questioned if he was a prophet of God. Sometimes we are tempted to question God, our faith and his deeds. But Elijah restored her son back to life.

And Elijah took the child and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, see, thy son liveth. And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth – I Kings 17:23-24

A time comes when you put in your very best, and you get the worst of results. You tarry with the Lord, make atonement, give alms, bring smile to people, win souls for Christ, finish a 40 days dry fasting, sow seeds of faith and the 9 yards but the immediate result has every adornment of discouragement. You begin to question and ponder. Doubt sets in and the will to do more begins to dwindle.

Sometimes you do everything right but that lecturer refuses to treat you fairly. You tick all the boxes but you are not chosen, you have the best of interviews but you are not invited for medicals, you fulfill all righteousness but the goal is missed. Do you give up and stop trying?

The three Hebrew lads were thrown to the hottest of flames for refusing to bow to the gods of Babylon. They didn’t stop worshiping God, they continued. Daniel was thrown into the dungeon for praying to God. Could he have suspended his prayers? Maybe he asked God “why?” or he believed that it was all for good and for the glory of God.

Joseph was disliked by his siblings and sold out to Egypt. He found his way to prison because he refused to what was wrong in the sight of the Lord. He tarried in prison but it was all for good. It must have been the lowest moment of his life.

The widow got her son back, Daniel had a pillow made of lions and was restored. The three Hebrew lads were elevated, Joseph became the prime minister and I had my best result the following year. Worth it?

So Friends, don’t let the bad results of today refrain you from making efforts in reaching your goal. God understands when you ask “Why?” but can you answer his questions in Job 38-41? You must believe that he is in charge and everything was created for him. Don’t just fold your hand and accept defeat. Don’t just accept that poor result and wallow in agony. The milk is spilled, stop crying over it.

For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again – Proverb 24:16

The low moment is not a period to continue in sin, nor a time to flee from the presence of God. The temptation is there to do as the world especially seeing positive results of their ways. Remember, there is always light at the end of tunnel as far as you are in Christ. Don’t stop praying, don’t stop worshiping, and don’t just stop. Rise up and give it another try.

Give someone a helping hand today.

@AmosCP

Don’t Stay Down was first posted on The Exceller Blog in The Experience Series