1 Thessalonians 5:17
Pray without ceasing.
I. THE DUTY. Two extreme errors are to be avoided — that of the ancient Euchites, who took these words literally, and that of these who fail in constant prayer.
1. For those who would never intermit this exercise. Let us explain the word. A thing is said to be done without ceasing which is done at constant times and seasons, as often as they occur (2 Samuel 19:13; 2 Samuel 9:12; Romans 9:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 1:3). The matter may bear a good sense if you interpret the apostle's direction either of —
(1) The habit of prayer or praying temper (Psalm 104:9).
(2) Vital prayer. All duties may be resolved into prayer or praise (Psalm 25:5; Proverbs 23:27).
(3) Continuance in prayer till we receive the answer (Luke 18:1; Matthew 15:22-28; 2 Corinthians 12:8).
(4) Frequency of return in the occasions of prayer. Praying —
(a) At all times, never omitting the seasons of prayer, stated or occasional (Matthew 6:11).
(b) In all conditions, afflicted or prosperous (James 5:13; Jeremiah 2:27; 1 Timothy 4:5).
(c) In every business, civil or sacred (Proverbs 3:6; Genesis 24:12; 2 Thessalonians 3:5).
2. To those who excuse infrequent prayer on the pretence that they are not bound to pray always, and that the time of duty is not exactly stated in the New Testament.
(1) Though there is no express rule, yet the duty is required in the strictest and most comprehensive terms (Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:2: Psalm 62:8; Luke 21:36).
(2) The examples of the saints should move us. David (Psalm 55:17); Daniel (Daniel 6:10).
(3) The ceasing of the daily sacrifice was accounted a great misery (Daniel 9:27).
(4) God trusts love, and would not particularly define the times of the duty; surely, then, we should be more open-hearted and liberal with Him. He expects much from a willing people (Psalm 110:3).
(5) God complains of His people's neglect (Jeremiah 2:32).
II. THE REASONS.
1. With respect to God —
(1) We acknowledge His Being in prayer (Hebrews 11:6; Psalm 65:2).
(2) We acknowledge His supreme providence (Matthew 6:11).
2. With respect to the nature of prayer. It is the nearest familiarity which a soul can have with God. Now acts of friendship must not be rare, but constant (Job 22:21). Men that often visit one another are acquainted. Prayer is visiting God (Isaiah 26:16). This is necessary —
(1) For present comfort; it gives boldness to come to God in your necessities if you daily wait upon Him (Ephesians 3:12). A child is not afraid to go to his father, nor a friend to a friend in trouble.
(2) For future acceptance (Luke 21:36).
3. With respect to the new nature (Zechariah 12:10; Acts 9:11).
4. With respect to the necessities of the saints (James 1:5; Ephesians 3:10; Hebrews 4:16).
5. With respect to its utility and profit.
(1) The three radical graces — faith, hope, and love — are acted on and increased in prayer (Jude 1:20, 21; Psalm 116:1, 2).
(2) The three related duties — joy, prayer, thanksgiving — are promoted by frequent prayer (Philippians 4:6, 7; Psalm 116:2; 1 Samuel 1:27, 28).
(T. Manton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Pray without ceasing.