Pray Continually

by Scarlett Stough

For the Scripture References and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: Lift Up Holy Hands in Prayer.

Have you heard prayer dismissed as useless, even superstitious? Are you discouraged because you don't see the effect of your prayers? Do you wonder, "Is anybody listening?"

Jesus gave a parable to his disciples, recorded for us, to encourage us all to always pray and never give up (Luke 18:1-8). God is listening, and even though we must wait for the answers we need, God chooses the best time and the best solution for the good of those who love him.

Those who have been praying, trusting God is faithful, know he answers prayers because they have experienced his help and direct answers over a lifetime. The testimony of a million people isn't convincing to the skeptic, but God is fully able to convince the person who really wants to know him. He will be found by those who want to live a holy life, set apart to live according to God's way of love.

He is not interested in answering prayers which are all about satisfying our greed for money, power, status or personal comfort.

You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. …Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
James 4:3-10

In other words, God is not a "genie in a bottle." He is Creator and Ruler of everyone and everything. His purpose is to create us in his image (Genesis 1:26-27). We do have a choice. We can either submit to the love and authority of God who gives life, or we can turn away from him and go down a path towards destruction. Those of us who believe Jesus is the Son of God and our Lord and Savior have made a turn around, back to God. We have an open invitation to enter into his presence at any time day or night and he will pay attention (John 16:23-27).

As part of God's family we have responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is prayer. Prayer should not be considered a religious duty to make us feel good about ourselves. We are commanded to appear before God making our petitions directly to him. People consider it a great honor to appear before kings, queens and presidents of nations; how much more of an honor should we consider it to be invited into the royal court of the highest Ruler over all.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

We have constant access to the ear of God who has all power and authority. He actually wants to hear what we have to say. He may not agree with it all, but he cares for each of us more deeply than we are able to comprehend. When we pray from our hearts, according to his will (peace, justice, righteousness) and according to his purpose, (becoming like him in our values, morals, goals, character, and most of all in unconditional love), he listens.

And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?
Luke 18:7-8

Praying for our own needs is part of prayer, but not the only type of prayer.

  • Prayer builds and maintains our relationship with God through praise and thanksgiving while we admit the mistakes we've made and request the power to avoid making them in the future.
  • Prayer requests more people to be consecrated to God's work of bringing people into a belief and trust in God through his son, Jesus.
  • Prayer requests civil authorities to be given guidance so we can all live peaceful, productive lives.
  • Prayer requests power and confidence to proclaim the good news of the return of the lawful ruler over this earth, Jesus the Anointed One of God.
  • Prayer requests power to resist evil and deliverance from it.
  • Prayer requests forgiveness for sins and healing of diseases.
  • Prayer requests not only forgiveness from God for our own sins, but also the power to ourselves be forgiving of others who have wronged us in some way.
  • Prayer requests the Holy Spirit to fill us so we might be about the Father's business of reconciliation of men to God.
  • Prayer is access to the God of peace and all hope through whom we are given peace and hope.

Prayer is our lifeline to the mighty power of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:18

Whether anyone else is listening or not, God is listening.

Volume 17 Issue 10 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation | Book Review

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