In I Thessalonians 5:17 Paul tells the Church to, "Pray without ceasing." OK....how in the world do you do that? You go to work tomorrow and Mr. Brown, your boss says, "I want you to have a certain project done by noon." Your response to Mr. Brown could be, "I'd love to do that Mr. Brown, but I'm praying right now, I'm supposed to pray all of the time!" Mr. Brown might get a tad upset!
It amazes me just how complicated the Church has made Christianity! People labor so hard so that they might become good Christians. And prayer seems to be one of "those issues!"
What really is prayer? It is communication with God. Communication is two way. In this case true prayer is not only spending a lot of time talking with God but listening also. Actually prayer isn't really what we do, rather, it's who we are! We cannot pray all of the time at work. When we are at work, we're supposed work...give the boss a good days work! Sure we can pray silent prayers, but we better concentrate on doing the things we're getting paid to do!
True New Covenant prayer is grace driven! Prayer is no longer performance in order to get noticed by God. Some just huff and puff, walk up and down, and if that doesn't work, wear their "prayer bones" (knees) out trying to get their prayers answered.
New Covenant prayer is based upon relationship. I talk to Him all of the time, but I also try to listen... His voice is awesome! I'm always in communication with Him. Why? Because God lives in me! (Col. 1:27) Years ago I recall seeing a travelogue on a Far East country, I'm thinking Japan. The program visited a Shinto temple. There the monks were busy, sitting in a circle, all clapping their hands, trying to get the attention of one of the many gods they worship. Sounds like some Christians I know, trying to get God's attention so that their prayers will be answered!
As a young Believer I was told that I needed to go to church, read my Bible every day, and spend quality time with God in prayer, this was so that I could eventually become a good Christian. Sometimes I like to question the status quo. Like, how did the First Century Christians make it? They were tortured for their faith. Can you see one of those guys trying to read his Bible every day? How could he, the Bible didn't exist. Yet the Word did! Yep, it was in that guy's heart, placed there by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Remember we said earlier, "God lives in me?"
My fiend, Mark Drake, wrote a great book, I highly recommend it to all, "God's Brilliant Plan: Finding the Easy and Light Life Jesus Promised." Wow! What a title! The wonder of the New Covenant is that God does it all, our only job is to believe it! Our goal is faith! His is works! It is very possible that you spend more time in prayer than you even suspect.
Let me close with a story, true one, it happened to me. Years ago, a friend of mine told me that he was having glorious times with God. He would go into his bed room every night at 10:00 p.m. and spend an hour in prayer. He'd kneel at his bed praying. I thought that this was super, so I told my wife that from now on I was doing the same thing, even though we liked to go to bed after the 11:00 p.m. news! Hummm.... So, that night I did go to my room, kneel at the side of my bed and had a wonderful time in prayer with the Lord. I prayed, and prayed and prayed...in both English and in my prayer language, I prayed, and prayed and prayed! Remember "Pray without ceasing!" Well, I filled up an hour and I'm sure God was pretty impressed! Hummm again! I went to sleep that night thinking that I was a spiritual giant!
Night #2 arrived. I went to the room at 10:00 p.m., assumed the position, and began to pour out my guts to God. I again prayed, but this time something happened that I wasn't very proud of. About 15 minutes into my earth shaking prayer session, I fell asleep! Right there on my "prayer bones" I failed God because I couldn't stay awake for one little hour! That night I fell asleep not as a spiritual giant, rather as a condemned failure! There was no third night! I didn't want to face failure again and make God feel even more disappointed in me.
What rubbish! The writer of Hebrews says, "So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God's rest have ceased from their labors, just as God did after creating the world." Hebrews 4: 9-10 (NLT)
If you do not pray from the standpoint of rest, then you are most likely not enjoying the blessings of the New Covenant! Ouch! But true! But then again, that is the way it is with our entire relationship with God, not just prayer. If we are not living a life of rest with God, most likely we're trying to live by some law. The only thing that can follow law is condemnation!
I trust that this encourages you some! Learn that our works cease when we understand that Jesus did it all! This is the life in the New Covenant... it's the place of rest. I trust you understand!