A House That Prayer Built - Learning To Pray Without Ceasing

The design of a home is a personal thing. Décor and furnishings are used to highlight and enhance the feel and theme. Fabrics, colors, chairs, sofas, fireplaces, bookshelves, from beautiful artwork to dead animal parts hung on walls, our home design says something about us. It tells people what we like and what interests us.

The church is no different. Not just our church but any and every church. The design of the space tells you something about what is thought to be important. What you put in OR take out matters. The basic design of almost every church is taken from the historic cathedral floorplans. And what is placed in the space, turns even the most simple into the sacred.

Just a few weeks ago we looked at the Marks of Prayer. I expect throughout this year, we'll drop back to those themes again and again. We looked at the moment in time when Jesus cleared the temple of moneylenders and he quoted from the prophet Isaiah that the house of God should be a place of prayer. Think about that for a moment.

Discuss with others: What other descriptions COULD you come up with to describe the house of God?
(I came up with: worship, preaching, hospitality, fellowship, coffee, and service.  Listen to the MP3 to hear some really great ones!)

Of all the verses of the Old Testament, of ALL the things Jesus could say about God's house, he noted that it is to be known as a House of Prayer. And then, over and over again, in different ways, throughout the Bible we find a variation of this theme:
(6) Rejoice always; (17) pray without ceasing; (18) in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1Thessalonians 5:16-18 NASB

The design of our two worship spaces here at Cumming FUMC have a kneeling rail. It tells you that we agree with Jesus' words. But let's be real, praying without ceasing? Have you ever tried living without breathing? Prayer without ceasing, yeah right! And yet, this theme of constant prayer runs through Jesus and Paul and into the Old Testament.

Prayer is to be central to the life of the Christian, obviously, like breathing. It is no wonder that we wander in our faith journey and in our times from church to church. I suspect that it is likely we don't get this. Pastor Edwin Blackwood suspects two reasons why we don't pray without ceasing: one, we are just being disobedient or two, we really don't believe it makes a difference.

But I would suggest, mainly because it is my own experience, there is another reason, maybe even more troubling. The third reason we don't pray without ceasing is no one has taught us how to do it. Most of what we've heard about prayer or seen modeled uses big words and sounds really high and holy. Or we hear about intercessory prayer and that is something that only really godly people do.

I don't know if Pauley Perrette knows it or not, but her simple prayer, “God thank you for everything. God forgive me for everything,” is more than simple. It is a way to pray that is associated with this very challenge of Paul to pray without ceasing. We're not the first generation of people to have a lot to get done, just talk to any farmer or review your notes on the industrial revolution, we've always been on the go.

It was in the early formation of the monastic traditions that monks would use one verse from a Psalm to be a short prayer and remind them of the entire Psalm as they went about their daily work. In time, the prayer which became known as the Jesus Prayer was given form. “Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Read Luke 18:10-14and the parable of the Tax Collector and Pharisee (CLICK HERE for my full Bible Study on this Parable).  Do a search online of the phrase in the Gospels: “have mercy,” and you'll see the pattern of this prayer.

In his book, TheBreath of Life, Ron DelBene writes about the practice of praying without ceasing. He notes, “To pray without ceasing on every possible occasion means that we are to be in a state of remembrance of what God has done, and is doing, for us (26).” Under our breath, in every moment, the Jesus prayer, a psalm verse, a Bible verse or a prayer of your own design like Pauley's can become a pattern for you to live out this call to pray without ceasing.

John Wesley, the leader of the Methodist movement, was adamant that Methodists be people of prayer. He was known to get up a 4am for his prayer time each day. When writing his Notes  on the New Testament, he got to these verses and wrote:
Prayer may be said to be the breath of our spiritual life. He that lives cannot possibly cease breathing.”   If we give up praying and praising, our joy will be nothing more than a delusion.

In the past year, the practice of praying without ceasing has been foundational to my faith and my journey. As I have wrestled with the vision loss in my right eye and various medications and treatments, it is this practice of prayer that has established my faith and hope firmly on God.

You will not come to know God's Divine Design apart from praying. Praying isn't about coming to know your purpose, it is about coming to know God. You don't need to master it , you simply need to begin doing it.  

May I Suggest?  Join us in prayer each Sunday morning at 9:51am in praying the Jesus prayer: "Jesus Christ, have mercy on us, a church of sinners."  Let me know if you will!

Click to download the mp3 of  Divine Design Week 2: A House That Prayer Built

  Ken is the Associate Pastor at Cumming First United Methodist and lead preacher for the NEW 9:51 Worship service meeting each Sunday morning.  Follow Ken on Facebook or on Twitter: @jedipastorken

  Learn more about the variety of worship experiences, the many ministries and the incredible people of Cumming First United Methodist Church, Cumming, GA.  A Traditional Church for Contemporary People!


  © Blogger template Webnolia by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP