L. A. Marzulli
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I remember 34 years ago as I was reading through the Bible for the first time and I came upon this passage. Pray without ceasing! How can anyone do this? I wondered. I asked my mentor at the time Wayne Kendall and he smiled sagaciously and stated, The Holy Spirit will show you how.
I thought his answer was a cop-out and then went into the bank to cash a check. Those were the days when Wayne and I worked together and along with his wifey Annie, ate most of our evening meals together. I dedicated The Cosmic Chess Match, to Wayne and the dedication thanks him for getting me through the darkest days of my life, but I digress!
I was standing in a fairly long line at the bank and became impatient as the line was moving at a snail’s pace. At this point something amazing happened. The Spirit of the Living God pointed someone out in the line to me and said, Pray for that man!
“But I don’t even know the guy!” I protested.
Pray for him….
So I prayed. When I finished the short, half-hearted prayer, the Spirit of the Living God spoke again and instructed me to pray for the woman who had just entered the bank.
Reluctantly I prayed again, not knowing what to pray.
The line moved and I finally conducted my business with the teller. When I left the bank and got back in my truck, I told Wayne what happened.
“Very Good Marzulli!” he replied. “The Holy Spirit showed you how to pray without ceasing. To pray for those around you when prompted by Him, even when you know nothing about the person.
I have carried this lesson throughout my Christian walk and have learned to pray without ceasing. Now I don’t walk around praying all the time, but I pray at different times throughout the day and they are non-scripted, they are spirit-led. Here’s what I mean. There’s a show on the religious channel that features a group of nuns at a convent praying the rosary. They chant the same prayer over and over again. These prayers are rote and in my mind boring as all get-out. We are actually instructed not pray repetitious prayers!
But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Matthew 6:7
The Muslims pray 5 times a day, but once again these prayers are rote, and they are obliged to pray this way because of the mandate for them to do so.
Contrast both of these with the way the Spirit of the Living God leads us in prayer. It is not rote, or boring, or predictable. His leading in our prayer can happen at 3 in the morning, or 3 in the afternoon. He can bring someone to mind that we haven’t thought of in years and we can intercede for him or her. He can prompt us to pray for healing, deliverance, finances or a host of other specific needs to target. One thing is for sure, when led by the Spirit of the Living God, prayer is never boring, especially when we hear about or witness the Lord answering our prayers.
A dramatic demonstration of prayer being answered happened in Watchers 8, when we were in the operating theater. We were looking for Bill’s implant and had gone over the same small patch of skin, with the wand from an Ultra-sound machine, for over an hour without finding the metallic object. At this moment, just when the Doctors were considering another X-ray, I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to pray, and so I did. It was short prayer, that went something like this. Father, if there are forces which are cloaking this object I pray that you would break their power and do it soon. Less than two minutes later the object suddenly appeared on the Ultra-sound monitor. The moment was not lost on anyone. The God of the universe broke the power of the Fallen One who I believe had concealed the implant. One simple, short prayer, changed the atmosphere and broke the power of the enemy.
In closing todays’ Bun: Our prayers can change lives, heal the sick, raise the dead, mend broken relationships, and forgive those who have hurt us. Our prayers act as weapons against the enemy of our souls. Our prayers can summon the host of heaven to come to our aid. Our prayer-life should dominate our thought-life. Jesus prayed often and at times during His ministry, while He was on earth, withdrew to pray. He knew the importance of prayer.
As J. Vernon McGee used to say, Prayer changes things…