1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJ 17. pray without ceasing, That’s it. Whole verse. Pray without ceasing.
This directive is actually just one in a list given to the Thessalonians by Paul at the close of his letter. By my count there are fourteen requests given in this flurry by Paul. It almost seem like something you my hear a caring mother say to her son as he leave the nest for college. “Be safe, study hard, make sure you don’t forget to call, get plenty of sleep and so on. Remember, Paul is writing a letter, not chapter and verse of the canon of Scripture. While we no longer (at least in most western societies) “greet each other with a holy kiss” we do accept the principle and also take the rest of Paul’s instructions as good advice today.
I have wondered though sometimes verse 17. pray without ceasing is what most people quote on a regular basis. My belief is that while all the requests make perfect sense praying on a regular basis requires us to form a habit. The other requests seem to start out from being somewhat passive in nature (more based in principle). Then, move to very active in nature but not habitual. 12. recognize those who labor among you. 19. Do not quench the Spirit. 20. Do not despise prophecies. 21. Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22. Abstain from every form of evil.
Once principles are ingrained in us they do not fade away easily. That is why we are told to Proverbs 22:6 NKJ Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Even modern research states that while a child may rebel from his parents in the adolescent years. They tend to return to the values they were taught as children later in life. (I intend to write about this later and provide some references)
The more active requests made by Paul like 25. Brethren, pray for us. 26. Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. 27. I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren. are meant for the readers of Paul’s letter. Not for the reader of Scripture.
Habits on the other hand can be formed and lost in a matter of days. My youth pastor used to teach us that a habit can be formed or lost in 21 days. We need to continually encourage each other to “pray without ceasing”. Otherwise we can easily fall out of habit.
Part two coming soon to a computer screen near you.