Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
There are few things in the Christian life that seem more difficult to attain then the command to pray unceasingly. Many of us think we will never learn to pray unceasingly.
But I don’t think it’s as unreachable as it appears to be. So I thought that I would offer a way to draw nearer to the goal of praying without ceasing:
Every time you want to check your phone, pray.
Maybe you’re thinking that’s it? Well no, that alone won’t enable you to do it, but I think it’s a good start. Not that this is news to us, but recent studies indicate that if there’s something we do unceasingly throughout the day besides breathing, it’s checking our phones. They state the average smart phone user unlocks and checks his phone 120-150 times a day. If your awake for 18 hours out of the day, that amounts to about 8 times an hour, or about every 7 minutes. The truth is, for most of us, we are a lot closer to checking our phones unceasingly then we are praying unceasingly. If we were asked to pray every 7 minutes we’d find it an incredibly difficult task. But if we can do it with our phones why can’t we do it with our prayers?
Maybe you're thinking “Well, what am I supposed to pray for?” or “I don’t want to pray the same thing all the time or just babble to God” and I’d say that’s a good question, and a noble desire. So take Paul’s advice:
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Pray without ceasing is conveniently sandwiched between two other commands to do without ceasing, which are certainly parts of praying: rejoicing and giving thanks. If you don’t know what to pray for, rejoice in the Lord! Sometimes we may feel like there’s not much worth rejoicing in because we haven’t really done any cool stuff for God lately. But let’s remember when the disciples came back from their mission in Luke 10 and had done some really cool stuff like casting out demons and healed people, Jesus told them, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” If we know that we deserve hell for our sins, and believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to save us and forgive us from our wretched and depraved sinfulness, and restored us to a right relationship with God, our names are written in heaven! Furthermore, if we believe in Jesus, God dwells inside of us now, and we will dwell with him for eternity! When we know that we’ve done nothing, absolutely nothing, to deserve the overabundant, merciful and gracious love of God demonstrated in giving gifts of life, breath, food, clothing, shelter, and salvation from sin, we discover an unceasing amount of opportunities to rejoice and give thanks.
Let’s capitalize on those opportunities. Rejoicing and thanking Him for granting us every moment lived, every breath breathed, every meal received, every penny earned, every article of clothing accumulated, every personal interaction engaged, every sin forgiven, and the joy and hope of eternal life with God which has already begun and will continue for eternity.
So before you check your phone to seeing what the world is doing, take a second to think what you're doing in the world, why God made you, what he has done for you, and what he continues to do for you. Rejoice, and give him thanks.
May God make us a people who are ever growing in unceasing rejoicing, thanksgiving, and prayer, for this is his will for us in Christ Jesus.