Prayer is something that most people do, regardless of their religious beliefs. Some say a prayer at mealtime, or bedtime, or at a time of crisis. It is very common to ask God for provision of a personal need. It is not wrong to say prayers like these. However, let’s explore the practice of staying in prayer, in contrast to simply saying a prayer.
In the Bible, I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Staying in prayer could be described as cultivating an attitude of prayer, learning to direct your thoughts toward God in every situation throughout the whole day. This scripture contains at least three dimensions of “staying in prayer.”
The first dimension is to rejoice always. Rejoice means to return to the source of joy. According to Nehemiah 8:10, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” As we rejoice in the Lord, we keep our heart connected to the Creator, who is the giver of strength. When we rejoice in the Lord, we focus on who God is. Rejoicing involves speaking and singing words of praise to our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. Frustrations happen in the course of our daily life: a flat tire on the car that makes us late for an important appointment; receiving unkind criticism. Instead of cussing or complaining, the best response is to praise God. When we rejoice always, we declare that the God above us is greater than the problem before us. It keeps us in a frame of mind that allows us to find solutions with God’s help. Stay in prayer by rejoicing always.
When we rejoice always, we declare that the God above us is greater than the problem before us.
The second dimension of staying in prayer is to pray continually. This means to keep our hearts open to communicate with God all day long. Prayer is not just throwing words toward heaven, it is carrying on a conversation with Jesus. The Bible tells us that since Jesus was resurrected and has ascended to heaven, He is always praying for us. So, effective praying is coming into agreement with how Jesus is praying. How can we do that? Well, instead of making a statement from your perspective, ask God a question. For example, a basic prayer question is: “Lord, what’s going on here?” Or, “How are we going to handle this situation?” Staying in prayer means that we talk with Jesus about things, rather than talking at Him.
The third dimension of staying in prayer is to give thanks in all circumstances. We may not have our prayers answered the way that we want, so we need to stay in prayer with an attitude of gratitude. When we give thanks, we acknowledge that God is God, and we are not. When we are ungrateful, we are displaying an attitude of pride. It is the height of arrogance to imply that we have better answers than God. Always being thankful keeps us in right relationship with God. Thankfulness is the language of faith that keeps us trusting in God’s wisdom.
When we give thanks, we acknowledge that God is God, and we are not.
Saying a prayer tends to become a religious ritual. Staying in prayer leads to a meaningful relationship with Jesus. As we rejoice always, prayer continually, and give thanks in all circumstances, we will stay in prayer.