God's Will for You Today, Part Two A God Consciousness!
1Thesselonians 5: 17 - pray continually;
We often lament our seeming inability to discern the will of God for our lives. We can find ourselves facing life changing decisions and seeking the will of God only to hear nothing. Too often, we have decided and then seek "confirmation" as opposed to seeking the will of God before making decisions. The bible is filled with direction on the will of God but nowhere does it seem clearer then in Paul's closing remarks to the Church at Thessalonica (1st Epistle). As the Apostle Paul is signing off his letter, he provides seven instructions which he refers to as, "God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Seven of course is God's number of perfection and each of these imperatives are given their own separate verse, even though they are contained within only two sentences. No matter what circumstance you may face in your life, you can match it up with these seven imperatives to discover the will of God for you in Christ Jesus!
The second imperative Paul speaks about is praying continually, or praying without ceasing. Once again, on the surface it looks like Paul is asking for the impossible. Just like our rational minds cannot comprehend being happy always, we cannot imagine always being in prayer. Remember that what is impossible with man is made possible with God!
The reason why praying continually sounds like an impossibility is because of what we have turned prayer into in modern Christianity. We have assigned times to prayer. We pray when we awake and when we go to sleep. We pray when we are going to travel and when we are going to eat. The problem is that most of our major life situations, where we could use the counsel of Almighty God, do not occur at these pre-arranged times. Most of the times we need to reflect and rely upon God occur outside of bedtime and breakfast! Where is God? Did we leave Him in the prayer closet? Do we wake up with Him, speak to him at breakfast and then leave Him home as we go through our day? Do we remember to say hello to him at lunch and then when we are about to drive home? Where is he then during the important meeting you have that day? Where is He when you have the opportunity to witness to someone on the train? Where is He when temptation comes against you?
Prayer has become more ritualistic than relational. That is not what the will of God is for you. He desires a relationship with you! That relationship is developed through prayer. The life of Jesus showed a man in constant prayer. He prayed early:
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35
Jesus also prayed late:
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. Luke 6:12
If you notice for both of these, Jesus withdrew to be alone. When I speak about ritualistic prayer, I am not suggesting that prayer closets are not useful. There are times when you will need to seek the face of God in reverent silence. It is always good to give thanks before meals, Jesus Himself did so. The issue is when prayer becomes and event, as opposed to a way of life.
In the Gospel of Luke, we see the disciples returning after being sent out by Jesus. They are amazed that demons submit to them. Jesus responds to them, then directly speaks to God in prayer, and then speaks again to the disciples:
I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."