Did some more thinking on today’s overview message for the book of 1 Thessalonians. My objective was to give both a flyover view at the “10,000 foot level” and then zoom in for a closer look at chapter 1:1-2.
I also wanted to leave plenty of time to weave this into the meditation on the Lord’s Supper. Like every preacher in America and around the world, I felt inadequate to the task but hopeful that God might take my fumbling tongue and draw his people to himself. Here’s the verse that I can’t get out of my mind.
“We give thanks to God always for all of you,
constantly mentioning you in our prayers.” (vs. 2)
The marginal note says that the word constantly might be translated as “without ceasing.”
- When a young mother is left a widow,
- when a young couple is “living” at a hospital because of the serious illness of an infant,
- when a family member is under duress because of a foreclosure on a home,
- when a teenager’s life hangs in the balance after a car accident,
- when a loved one is moving toward hospice,
- when alzheimer’s robs a father of recognizing a daughter or a daughter of being recognized by her father,
- when a wife is losing her battle with cancer and young children are still in the home,
. . . those are times when praying and remembering to pray constantly, “without ceasing”, are easy. Our love for those enduring hardship and sorrow and pain opens like a faucet and passion of our heart flows easily, often with tears, to a God, who the gospel assures us, is listening to every prayer and bottling every tear.
But what about the rest of life? You know, the “dailies” of life, the routine matters of a week, how are our prayers then? Are they “constant”? Mine often aren’t. Mine are very episodic. I pray for my needs, my family’s needs, the needs of the members of the church that I know or the ones that I am closest to, but generally, it takes a crisis in my or their life for my prayers to be “without ceasing”.
Maybe that’s why (or part of why) God allows crisis to come.
Ceaseless prayer is God calling the body of Christ to solidarity with one another. It is the Spirit of God reminding us that in belonging to him, we belong to one another.