1st Thessalonians 5:17
WEEK 43: 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
The City of Thessalonica was about a hundred miles west of Philippi. It was a great commercial centre of Paul’s time – the inhabitants being Greeks, Romans and Jews. It still exists under the name of Salonika, and had a population 75,000 to 85,000 about half of whom are Jews.
Once Paul was released from prison at Philippi, he continued his second missionary journey to Thessalonica, having also Silas and Timothy with him (Acts 17:1-5). He spent three Sabbaths there, but on account of the persecution of the Jews, went from there to Berea, then to Athens, and then to Corinth where he spent 18 months. The first letter bears testimony to the devout Christian character of these new converts from heathenism.
First Thessalonians. This is probably the first epistle written by Paul and perhaps the first written document of the Christian faith. It is not doctrinal; it has no element of controversy and is one of the most gentle and affectionate of Paul’s letters. It is notable for its special salutations and refers to their expectations of the immediate return of Jesus. Its main idea is comfort (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18), its keynote hope and its leading words affliction and advent. Its purpose was: (1) to send affectionate greetings, (2) to console them in their afflictions, (3) to correct their wrong, their mistaken views of Christ’s second coming, (4) to exhort then to proper living as against certain immoral tendencies.
What is prayer? It is the intimate communication between God and man.
What does prayer do? It brings us into the very presence of God.
What are the powers of prayer? It can rule the world.
Why should we be in prayer? For supplication must be constant as well as persevering, therefore “Pray without ceasing”.
We must pray with preparation. We must not go into our closet before God with lips unprepared, or hearts not made ready.
Pray with reverence. Before we pray let us realise what prayer means; before we begin to speak to God let us realise that it is God to Whom we are about to speak; that it is God Who is listening to us, the Holy God, ready to hear and answer the prayers of us who are so sinful.
We must pray with faith (Hebrews 11:6). Not, believing that God will answer our prayers in the way that we look for them, not that He will give us exactly the blessings we ask for, that is not faith. It is the perfect trust in God’s wisdom and love that He hears our prayers, that He answers our prayers not according to our ignorance in asking, but according to His great wisdom Who gives us what we ask. According to thy faith so shall it be done.
Pray with perseverance. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened (Matthew 7:7).
Prayer is this, not only to do with the whole of life, but it pervades everything in the Christian life. Meditation, fasting, almsgiving, worship, communion, none of these things is possible without prayer. Prayer is the first necessary condition of the sustenance of the spiritual life. Nothing can take the place of prayer, no efforts, no communion, no wishes, none of these can be put in the place of prayer, for Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath, – a prayer less soul is a dead soul.