1 Thessalonians 5:17
Pray without ceasing.
Let us —
I. EXPLAIN the injunction in our text. It is the practice of the Scripture writers to use broad and forcible terms to express the extent or the intensity of their ideas. Such a phrase demands —
1. The frequent act of prayer. Thus, when St. Paul declares to the Romans (Romans 1:9) that "without ceasing he made mention of them always in his prayers," he seems to refer to his intercessions for them at his stated approaches to the throne of grace; for when he tells the Ephesians (Ephesians 1:16), in a similar phrase, that he "ceased not to give thanks for them," we find this to be his meaning, from the sentence that he immediately adds, "making mention of you in my prayers." Just as he writes to the Philippians (Philippians 1:3, 4). In all cases, habits are formed only by the repetition of acts; and therefore devotion is essential to devoutness.
2. The persevering habit of prayer — the patient waiting upon God in the face of difficulties and discouragement. For when the apostle says, "pray without ceasing," his object is, as may be gathered from the context, to animate them to persevere in supplication, notwithstanding their disappointment with respect to the immediate coming of the Lord, their sorrow for the loss of Christian friends, and their experience of unruly and unstable brethren.
3. The pervading spirit of prayer. For without this all stated acts and persevering diligence of outward supplication will be vain. Prayer consists not in those acts, but in the spirit and temper of devoutness, generated, exercised, kept up under difficulty by those acts.
II. ENFORCE it. It might, indeed, appear at first sight strange that such a duty should need enforcement; that no very pressing argument would be necessary to persuade to such a privilege. Let me, then, press it upon you —
1. As a remedy for perplexity. Man is ignorant and foolish; and he has daily proofs that it is not in himself to direct his steps.
2. As a consolation under trouble.
3. As your strength against temptation. No sin can be successfully resisted without fervent prayer.
(T. Griffith, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Pray without ceasing.