PRAYING WITHOUT CEASING
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
I often suggest to the congregation of Mount Zion that they ask Jesus about everything they do. If they repeatedly stopped everything they are doing and prayed, or spend a good part of each day on their knees in their bedroom, this would be a bondage rather than a blessing.
It is difficult to put into words exactly what I mean.
Brother Lawrence, of the Carmelite monastery in Paris, expressed what I am experiencing and teaching. He shut himself in with God in the kitchen in which he worked. Everything he did he did unto the Lord, although his work was menial.
I have expressed much the same thing, by saying that we should give all of our decisions to the Lord Jesus, not leaning to our own understanding but acknowledging Christ in all that we do.
So yes, it is a case of praying without ceasing. But one could get a wrong impression from this. It is more a way of living, of thinking, of acting, of speaking. It is a flow of understanding like a river of thought. It becomes second nature.
The more we practice giving every decision to Christ, the more instinctive it becomes. We begin this way of living, which I term “living by the Life of Christ,” by consciously looking to Jesus for everything we are doing: giving thanks for everything that goes right, for every blessing and good thing we experience; asking help when there is a problem; endeavoring to bring every thought into subjection to Christ.
But, as I said, it finally becomes instinctive. We began by making a conscious effort to think, speak, and act in harmony with the Lord as He thinks, speaks, and acts. Then it becomes the way we live, move, and have our being.
Our mind has a “mind” of its own, doesn’t it. Our thoughts fly around like a flock of birds, dwelling on fears, hopes, plans for the future, dreads and fears, unclean thoughts, and so forth. Being a musician of sorts, I frequently hear music in my mind. I have to keep asking the Lord to tone it down so I can pray and think about other things.
Yet, we don’t give up, because we really desire to relate to Jesus as He relates to the Father in all we think, say, and do.
Perhaps this is what Paul meant by praying without ceasing—it is not always a case of petitioning God for answers to our prayers but a kind of communion. Brother’s Lawrence way of living in communion with God is termed “practicing the Presence of God.” This sums up what I am attempting to convey.
An individual who decides he or she wants to live this way must be content with a small beginning. A first step might be to take one part of his or her thinking, speaking, and acting, and concentrate on that. Every time the particular subject is confronted, it is turned over to Jesus for His wisdom and strength.
When this one area of activity is brought under subjection, then another area can be added to it. Any person who loves the Lord Jesus can do this and become adept at it.
If you have been following along with me you probably realize that a death is involved here. It is death to our own ways; our own thoughts; our own plans; our own hopes; our own ambitions; our own desires. But look what we are getting in exchange: Christ’s ways; Christ’s thoughts; Christ’s plans; Christ’s hopes; Christ’s ambitions for us; Christ’s desires for us.
I cannot speak for you. But to my way of thinking, I will choose Christ’s Life over my own.
The Lord told us that if we lose our life in Him, we will gain it. If we die with Him on the cross we will live with Him in His resurrection. I choose this path!
Really, this is what it means to live by faith, because Jesus as yet is invisible to us. So we are anchoring ourselves to that which we cannot see but yet hope for.
You know, “desires” are an extremely important part of one’s personality. Why is this? Because if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart.
What if the desires of our heart are not what we really want? That can be true, your know, if we are being led astray by some idolatrous, passionate attraction. For myself, one of my most fervent prayers is that Christ will give me His desires for me. You see, I do not trust myself!
This might appear to you to be an unnatural life; a subnormal life. It is anything but that. A life driven by lustful desires is a subnormal life. A life driven by personal ambition is a subnormal life. A life driven by self-love and self-centeredness is a subnormal life.
Because God created us and always is in charge of the world, a life that is given over to the Life of Christ is a normal life. The supernatural becomes normal and natural. Our hope for life after death changes from the unnatural concept of a mansion on a golden street to realistic fellowship with God and Christ in a world more similar to our present world than we are aware of at this time.
One benefit of living by the Life of the Lord Jesus is that we lose our fear of our personal death and the death of our loved ones. We realize that whatever the future holds, when we die we will be home with our Lord.
I have been saying for some time now that because of the sins of the American people, Divine judgment is on the horizon. God has given so much to our country because of the prayers and labors of the pioneers who went before us.
But we are throwing away the Divine blessing. We have chosen to adore naked flesh; profane music; morally disgusting entertainment; sexual perversions; the murdering of infants.
America is becoming secularized. In many instances speakers are forbidden to say the name of Christ so as not to offend anyone. Can you imagine that in America? It is happening before our eyes. The basic culture and values of America, the venerable customs and traditions, are giving way to new values and customs. America is disappearing. The new culture that is taking its place is alien to the older people.
Our leaders are ashamed of Christ and do not call upon God for help with the ever increasing financial and social problems. America is losing its way, its heart, its soul.
More disciplined nations are calling to our attention that America’s role as a major player in world politics can no longer be taken for granted.
Why is this? It is because God is leaving us. Why is God leaving us? Because the Christian churches are teaching lawless grace and an imminent escape from trouble by an unscriptural catching up of the believers to Heaven. Emphases such as these are not likely to produce sturdy saints.
So the United States of America, once the strongest of all proponents of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, has traded its birthright for that which is of no value. The only remedy would be nation-wide repentance; and because of the current lie about God seeing us through Christ and being blind to our sins, there is not likely to be nation-wide repentance in our fun-loving churches.
I see no hope for America. We have a president who appears to favor abortion and gender confusion. I have the impression that he receives supernatural assistance; because those who would oppose him appear to be divided and confused.
But there indeed is good news. The Spirit of God is speaking of revival, although in the midst of trouble.
When we think of revival, we may picture the old-time tent meetings with people being saved and healed and baptized with the Holy Spirit. I do not believe it will be like that. Rather, it is the Christian people who are to be revived by confessing and turning away from their sins and self-will.
The power of the Spirit of God will convict of sin, sweeping away the current lawless grace teaching and causing an agony of repentance on the part of numerous Christians. Eventually, as I understand it, the revival of repentance will move into the “sackcloth” revival of the “two witnesses” of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation.
The Spirit is telling me that there will be much bloodshed in America. Our enemies will take advantage of the chaos in our country. Perhaps then the believers will understand that they have been lied to, when they are not rescued from the moral and physical horrors that are taking place.
Christ is giving us an opportunity today to prepare ourselves for the tribulations that are to overtake our country. He is teaching us to live by His Life. Then we will have no fear of our own death or the death of our loved ones.
The Ninety-first Psalm speaks of the secret place of the Most High. It is referring to our abiding in Christ. When we live in Christ, thinking, speaking, and acting by His Life, we are promised protection from every kind of evil. No matter what happens in America in the future, if we are willing to set aside our own plans and ambitions, and seek to live in Christ we will be kept safe.
Should we or our children die, we and they will be safe in the arms of Jesus. So what have we to fear?
The sting of death is sin. If we are wise today, we will listen to the Spirit of God as He points out to us our thoughts, words, and actions that are not in the image of God. Then with the help of the Lord we are to confess and renounce our unclean behavior. We can and must do this today. Then there will be no sting in our death.
Multitudes of unsaved people are going to need our Christ in the days to come. We have a chance today to enter the Ark of safety, into Christ. From this point of strength and wisdom we will be able to assist those who are panic-stricken, not knowing which way to turn.
We will not be able to help anyone, not even our own children or loved ones, in the hour of judgment that is on the horizon, unless we flee from the foolishness and idolatry of the churches.
If your church is preaching lawless grace and the “rapture,” then find a Bible-believing church that is warning us we must take up our cross of deferred desires and follow our Lord. Otherwise you are going to be lulled asleep in a day when you need to be devoting your time and strength to entering the Life of Christ that is available in our day.
Don’t wait to see if I know what I am talking about. Begin to learn how to pray without ceasing; how to practice the Presence of God. Then you will be a light to all those around you and save many from despair in that day.
Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. (Daniel 12:3)
(“Praying Without Ceasing”, 3469-1)