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One-a-Day...for the Heart: Off to a Good Start: PRAY!

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 NASU). The Apostle Paul gave a helpful list of suggestions for good Christian conduct in verses 12-22, and within that list was an appeal never to stop praying.

The phrase "without ceasing" comes from a Greek word meaning uninterruptedly and describes something that is constantly recurring. Paul used the same word in Romans 1:9 when he told the brethren that he prays "unceasingly" for them—that is, night and day. Matthew Henry, in his commentary, explains "unceasingly" in this way: "The meaning is not that men should do nothing but pray, but that nothing else we do should hinder prayer in its proper season." He comments, "We should pray always, and not faint: pray without weariness, and continue in prayer, till we come to that world where prayer shall be swallowed up in praise" (Matthew Henry's Commentary).

I can't wait for that world where "prayer shall be swallowed up in praise." What a glorious setting! However, we are not there yet, so our instructions are to pray without ceasing. We all need it, as does the world that is swallowed up by anything but praise at the moment.

We should have regularly scheduled times of prayer every day. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Your Father, who sees everything, will reward you (Matthew 6:6 NLT). Such personal prayer times are some of our sweetest moments with the Lord. It is then that His still, small voice often speaks a word of peace or instruction or illumination of scripture into our hearts. Or perhaps He wants us to pray for a particular person or situation. Closet time with Jesus is so necessary and meaningful!

Our prayer closet can become a war room, too, where we do spiritual warfare and oppose and resist the devil, his accusations, and torment. If we don't take time to do this and tell Satan to hit the road and leave us alone, our thought life deteriorates, and before we know it, we succumb to discouragement, depression, and defeat. God's words comfort, encourage, and build us up; Satan's words condemn and defeat us. In your war room, learn to discern the difference and resist the enemy's attacks. Submit to God; resist the devil, and he will flee (James 4:7). Doing this in a constantly recurring routine will bring victory and answered prayer.

If you have been baptized in the Holy Spirit and have a heavenly prayer language or speak in tongues, it is easy to pray without ceasing. It's effortless, really, and praying in tongues can be done anytime, anywhere—in your head or out loud. And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we don't know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony God's own will (Romans 8:26 NLT).

Never stop praying. Talk to the Lord more than you talk to people. It's powerful and life-changing! As a new year greets us, start Jesus! He's listening.

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