Monday, January 19, 2015

The Treasure of Unceasing Prayer

When many of us think about Heaven, our minds often go in many different directions imagining the glories of that place.  We will be re-united with loved ones who have been separated from us.  We will have glorified bodies, no longer able to feel sorrow or pain, or fear death.  There will never be jealousy, or envy, or a secret contempt in Heaven.  Only ever-increasing joy.  We will walk the streets of gold under the brilliance of God and His throne, for He will be the light in that place.  We never hear the word "no" because we would never ask a question that would warrant that response.  We will get to meet and talk with Moses, Ruth, David, Mary and Paul. The glories of Jesus will be our constant companion, and we will live in a state of perfect spiritual happiness with each other and with God for ages without number 

But the best thing about Heaven will be unceasing prayer. The best thing about heaven is that there will be unbroken communion with God.  No more veil.  No more distance.  No more obscurity.  Only intimate communion—which is what the Bible calls prayer.  We will ever live to pant after God in prayer, and He will ever live to communicate His glories to us. The saints will enjoy such a communion with God that they will never have any desire to stop speaking with Him.  We will forever feast off the abundance of His house, and drink from the river of His delights (Psalm 36:8).   There will be no boredom, no indifference, and no unfulfilled longing.  Only continual communion with the possessor of our souls.   

But that is then.  What about now?

The good news, is that we don't have to wait to get to heaven to have that constant communion with God!  Paul encourages us now to "...pray without ceasing"—1 Thessalonians 5:17.  It's true that on this side of eternity, our prayers will be accompanied with thorns, and the dullness that comes from our flesh, and the corruption that comes from our sin.  But we are encouraged nonetheless to pray without ceasing.  God offers Himself now to the thirsty soul. 

But this is exceedingly hard.  Perhaps impossible.  So how do we do this?  Is there a way that we can posture ourselves, even in our busy schedules, to pray without ceasing?  I believe the answer is yes. Joel Beeke and Diana Kleyn wrote a great children's book  How God Used a Thunderstorm (Scotland: Christian Focus, Reprint 2012) where they tackle this verse.  They tell a story of a meeting between several ministers who were discussing difficult theological questions.  The verse from 1 Thessalonians 5:17 came up, and they were stumped.  They were unable to imagine how it is possible to pray without ceasing.  A young maidservant was in the room and she assured them that this was one of the easiest and best verses in the Bible. One of the ministers responds

"Well, well, Mary," said an old minister. "What do you know about it?  Can you pray all the time?"  "Oh, yes, sir!"  "Really?  How is that possible when you have so many things to do?"  "Why, sir, the more I have to do, the more I pray."  Indeed!  Well, Mary, how do you do it?  Most people wouldn't agree with you."  "Well, sir," said the girl, "when I first open my eyes in the morning, I pray, 'Lord, open they eyes of my understanding,' and while I am dressing, I pray that I may be clothed with the robe of righteousness.  While I am washing, I ask to have my sins washed away.  As I begin to work, I pray that I may receive strength for all the work of the day.  While I kindle the fire, I pray that revival may be kindled in me.  While preparing and eating breakfast, I ask to be fed with the Bread of Life and the pure mild of the Word.  As I sweep the house, I pray that my heart may be swept clean of all its impurities.  As I am busy with the little children, I look up to God and pray that I may always have the trusting love of a little child, and as I...." 
It's here where the minister cuts her off.  He gets the point.  Hopefully, so do we.  Everything that God places in our path down here can be used as an opportunity to pray.  Which means that every moment of the day, broadly speaking, can be used as a moment to commune with God.  Our dressing, our eating, our quite time, our busy time, our sleeping time, our working time, every "time" can be a time where we are availed the opportunity to open up the treasure of unceasing prayer.   

As God told Abraham "I am your exceeding great reward" Genesis 15:1.  When we open our hearts heavenward in prayer, we are rewarded with God Himself.  Oh..the treasure of unceasing prayer!


1 comment:

  1. How like yesterday when you were all here and we talked about the wonders of heaven. To know our God is joyful over us has caused me to think of Him more and more.
    To know that however we think we can not know what heaven will be like but to hear that our joys will grow though out eternity, what an awesome, amazing God we serve.