Pray Without Ceasing… Really?

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray(4336) without ceasing(89).

[Is this saying that we ought to be praying every moment, or that we ought never to stop praying regularly and consistently?]

Strongs Greek 4336
proseuchomai — pros-yoo’-khom-ahee — from 4314 and 2172; to pray to God, i.e. supplicate, worship: — pray (X earnestly, for), make prayer.

Matthew 6:9-13 After this manner therefore pray(4336) ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

[First of all, this is a broad sense of the word ‘prayer.’ It includes both supplication and worship. Thus, it would be possible to ‘pray’ in a sense by your every action that is dedicated to God. However, it is never used in this sense, and, when you can tell, it always seems to refer to an actual speaking to God.]

Strongs Greek 89
adialeiptos — ad-ee-al-ipe’-toce — adverb from 88; uninteruptedly, i.e. without omission (on an appropriate occasion): — without ceasing.

[Notice the phrase ‘without omission.’ The explanatory parenthesis also gives the impression that this is talking about consistent meeting with God, and not every-moment-of-every-day.]

Strongs Greek 88
adialeiptos — ad-ee-al’-ipe-tos — from 1 (as a negative particle) and a derivative of a compound of 1223 and 3007; unintermitted, i.e. permanent: — without ceasing, continual.

[Intermittent (by Webster’s 1828) means to ‘utterly cease at intervals’ (paraphrased). Therefore, this still maintains the possibility that we ought to be regular and continually consistent in our prayers, but not necessarily every moment. One can go farther, and the etymology bears this out, but going too far back puts you on shaky ground in hermeneutics.]

Romans 1:9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing(89) I make mention of you always in my prayers;

1 Thessalonians 1:3 Remembering without ceasing(89) your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing(89), because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

[Notice that all these passages point to a consistent remembering to do something, not doing it every moment. Paul is saying that he has not given up these things.]

CEASE, v.i.
1. To stop moving, acting or speaking; to leave of; to give over; followed by from before a noun.
It is an honor for a man to cease from strife. Prov 20.
2. To fail; to be wanting.
The poor shall never cease out of the land. Deu 15.
3. To stop; to be at an end; as, the wonder ceases; the storm has ceased.
4. To be forgotten.
I would make the remembrance of them to cease. Deu 32.
5. To abstain; as, cease from anger. Psa 37.
To cease from labor, is to rest; to cease from strife, is to be quiet; but in such phrases, the sense of cease is not varied.
CEASE, v.t. To put a stop to; to put an end to. Cease this impious rage. [But in this use the phrase is generally elliptical,]
CEASE, n. Extinction.

[Webster’s 1828 dictionary clearly defines ‘ceasing’ to be a complete cessation, not a pausing.]

Realize that I am not going back on my avowed extremism. Many people (including myself, before I did this study) hold to the idea that we ought to be praying every moment of every day. They hold to this, not because there is lexicological support for that view, but because it seems more godly and devout. This is not to say that they are wrong to want to be godly and devout: it is very good to be godly and devout. We just need to do it God’s way, and not our way. We need to be extremely diligent and consistent in our prayers: they are a vital part of our life line. We need to dedicate each and every action and thought to God (‘bringing into captivity every thought’ 2 Cor. 10:5).

But then, there is the question of how often are we to pray? To me, the question is academic: in practical life we simply pray as much as we can, as well as we can. There is a lot to pray for, and little time to do it in. We can pray as we read our Bibles, we can pray as we walk down the street (we need to do that), we can pray when we wake at night. David prayed seven times a day. From what I can tell, he did it when he arose, when he ate each of his three meals, at midday, at evening, and at midnight (but that is just speculation on my part). Seven.

But remember: prayer is talking to God, and the way we get an answer is by reading His Word. We need to allow God to speak to us too, so read, study, and meditate on the Bible as much as you can. These two things are our food and our drink. We do not dare to let our spirit starve.

What are your thoughts on this Bible study? How often do you pray? How often would you like to?

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2 Responses

  1. Hmm, I’m gonna pray more. *nods head determinedly*

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