Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times."
1 Thessalonians 5:17
Pray without ceasing.
There are two modes of praying mentioned in Scripture: the one is prayer at set times and places and in set forms; the other is what the text speaks of — continual or habitual prayer. The former of these is what is commonly called prayer, whether it be public or private. The other kind of praying may also be called holding communion with God, or living in God's sight, and this may be done all through the day, wherever we are, and is commanded us as the duty, or rather the characteristic, of those who are really servants and friends of Jesus Christ. These two kinds of praying are also natural duties. I mean we should in a way be bound to attend to them, even if we were born in a heathen country and had never heard of the Bible. For our conscience and reason would lead us to practice them, if we did but attend to these Divinely given informants. Most men indeed, I fear, neither pray at fixed times, nor do they cultivate an habitual communion with Almighty God. Indeed, it is too plain how most men pray. They pray now and then, when they feel particular need of God's assistance; when they are in trouble or in apprehension of danger; or when their feelings are unusually excited. They do not know what it is either to be habitually religious or to devote a certain number of minutes at fixed times to the thought of God. Nay, the very best Christian, how lamentably deficient is he in the spirit of prayer! Let any man compare in his mind how many times he has prayed when in trouble with how seldom he has returned thanks when his prayers have been granted; or the earnestness with which he prays against expected sufferings with the languor and unconcern of his thanksgivings afterwards, and he will soon see how little he has of the real habit of prayer, and how much his religion depends on accidental excitement, which is no test of a religious heart. Or supposing he has to repeat the same prayer for a month or two, the cause of using it continuing, let him compare the earnestness with which he first said it, and tried to enter into it, with the coldness with which he at length uses it. Why is this, except that his perception of the unseen world is not the true view which faith gives (else it would last as that world itself lasts) but a mere dream, which endureth for a night, and is succeeded by a hard worldly joy in the morning? Is God habitually in our thoughts? Do we think of Him and of His Son our Saviour through the day? When we eat and drink, do we thank Him, not as a mere matter of form, but in spirit? When we do things in themselves right, do we lift up our minds to Him and desire to promote His glory?
(Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times.")
Parallel VersesKJV: Pray without ceasing.