Follow Bible’s advice: Pray without ceasing
James Bailey, former minister at Southside Church of Christ, 1105 W. 25th St.:
Personally, morning, night, meals and any other time the need for prayer arises. (I am often asked to pray for others.)
The Bible tells us to “pray without ceasing.” The idea there is to be consistent and regular in prayer.
Prayer for a child of God is to be a state of mind. It is much like a child in communication with a parent. The child knows that they need to have regular communication with the parent to stay within the will of the parent, as well as to avail themselves of the parent’s experience, counsel and goodwill.
God, as our Heavenly Father, asks us to speak to him and enjoys it when we do.
Even when we don’t know how we should pray, or exactly what we are praying for, the Bible is clear that the Holy Spirit helps us with groanings that we can’t even utter.
Often I hear people say they don’t see any need to pray, much less be regular in prayer, because it seems they don’t ever hear from God, or that God doesn’t answer their prayers.
God is God, so the time, place and extent to which he answers prayer is up to him. And when God answers your prayer it will be on his own timetable. We should understand, for we do this with our own children all the time — they ask, and often we give them what they want at a later time.
Prayer is part of a relationship between God and one of his children, just as regular and meaningful conversation is part of a relationship between a physical parent and child. The avenue of prayer between God and his child is open always — even if, at that moment, words are not being said.
Some will say there is no need to pray because there is no God. Yet when death is eminent, tragedy strikes, danger suddenly comes or the news of the moment is devastating often the first words from their lips is, “Oh, God!”
— Send e-mail to James Bailey at email@example.com
Develop a rhythm to your devotions
The Rev. Joanna Harader, pastor, Peace Mennonite Church, 615 Lincoln St.:
On a good day, I pray with my prayer book before I get out of bed. I thank God for the food I eat at each meal. I start my workday by praying for people in my congregation. If I’m writing a sermon, I pray for wisdom and inspiration. If I’m leading a meeting, we start with prayer. I pray with my children at night. I use my prayer book again before I go to sleep.
This is my rhythm for traditional prayers — the kind where I quiet myself, focus attention on God, and speak (aloud or in silence) my joys, concerns, thanksgivings, pleas. Sometimes I hit every prayer time. Most often I don’t. Still, I find it helpful to have the rhythm in my head.
The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17). And, for Christians, Jesus is our example of a faithful life. So surely prayer is more than sitting on a hard bench with our heads bowed and our eyes closed. It must involve walking, and teaching, and healing, and eating, and going to parties.
I am not to the point of praying without ceasing. I cannot claim that cleaning the litter box is a holy event for me. Still, I find meaningful forms of prayer beyond the traditional. Some prayers I most enjoy are walking labyrinths, singing, watching birds, writing sermons, listening to people who are in pain, driving on a warm night with the windows down, laughing with my friends.
Prayer is a connection to the Divine. Sometimes I intentionally seek that connection. Sometimes it surprises me. I do find that the better I keep to my prayer rhythm, the more aware I am of God's presence in every part of my life.
And when I realize God is hovering near, how can I help but speak — or listen?
— Send e-mail to Joanna Harader at firstname.lastname@example.org.