The great quest of spiritual maturity is to come to the point where we are in non-stop communion with God. Apparently, Paul had experienced this and believed we can too.
… praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18 ESV).
Paul repeats this same thought in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 as he tells us to “pray without ceasing.” For years I thought that was impossible, but it is becoming, for me, the Great Quest.
Can I go for a day without ever leaving the presence of Christ? Every thought captured by Him? Every conversation including Him as a very present voice? Outer ears tuned to others, inner ears tuned to Christ? Never losing the sense of His presence?
Surely for a day. And if a day, then a week. And if a week, then a month and a year. Like a runner pushing to greater and greater distances, can we not give the same focus to that which is most essential to our souls and others?
The ALL of prayer. To put a stamp on this thought, Paul pounds it into our thinking with the four “ALLs” of prayer.
There should never be a moment when we are not praying. Ever. There is not a spot where communion with God is not appropriate. If we find prayer needless, awkward, or embarrassing, it may be that we are indulging in a proud attitude or sinful action that is inappropriate or has compromised our environment.
What kind of communication do you have with your best friend? Is it always the same? All joy, no sorrow? All gut-wrenching confession, no happy celebration of victories? All about the weather, nothing about the family?
The great joy of a real friend is the “all-ness” of your speech. No holds barred, no subject off limits, you share anything and everything. Intimacy is gained through all-ness.
Should it be less with God? God wants to be included in your most stunning moments as well as your most routine. He longs to be included in your thoughts, and He has excruciatingly sweet and precise things to say to you about everything in your life. All types of communication (prayer), all the time.
This is the great downfall. We give up. Encouraged by a sermon or a Scripture, we jump into moments of prayer, but we fail to persevere. We get tired or distracted—“worried and bothered by many things,” as Martha was, when “only one thing is necessary,” like Mary chose.
If we are going to be robust Christians for God, we must be great pray-ers. And if we are going to be great pray-ers, we must become obstinate in our refusal to walk away from the table with Him.
We must pray and keep praying, all the time. When we realize our lapse, we must repent and return and keep returning until there is a long obedience.
ALL THE SAINTS
Who needs our prayers? I do. You do. And everyone we know does. We should pray for those we love and those with whom we struggle. Even our enemies, Jesus said (and illustrated), should be the recipient of our intercession.
Don’t you imagine that Jesus talked with His Father constantly about each of the disciples and everyone He met, receiving constant instruction about how He was to interact with them, and interceding for their needs?
His testimony was that He did nothing on His own initiative but only said what His Father was saying and did what He observed His Father doing. What was the vehicle for this observation of the Father? Constant prayer, for every situation, with every person.
Prayer should not be our last resort with people but our first response. Is there anyone you will meet today who does not need what God could bring them through your prayers?
All-encompassing prayer is the precursor to revival and spiritual awakening. If we could master “the all of prayer” (or let it master us), we would find the foyer of heaven and the power of God on earth.