Search
  • Virginia Brown

What Does “Praying without Ceasing” Mean?

For many years I was puzzled by Paul’s instruction in 1 Thess 5:17. He writes, “Pray without ceasing.” My inner dialogue went something like this, “How is it even possible to obey this command? We must sleep. Doesn’t God want me to sleep? Also, I’m so absorbed in what it is I’m doing that it is impossible to pray. God wants me to concentrate on my responsibilities, right?” My confusion regarding this passage evaporated when I went to seminary.


While in seminary I learned that the verb in this sentence (“pray”) should not be understood in a progressive, continuous sense. That is, Paul is not saying, “Pray in a continuous manner. Never stop.” Rather, the verb “pray” ought to be understood in a repeated, repetitive sense. We might translate 1 Thess 5:17 this way, “Repeatedly and repetitively pray.”


My seminary professor who taught me this puts it like this:

“The idea in this passage is not that believers are to pray every minute of every day, but that

we should offer prayers to God repeatedly. We should make it our habit to be in the

presence of God.”


So, is it OK to go to sleep? Yes. Is it OK to be absorbed in your daily tasks? It is. God “knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Ps 103:14). Nevertheless, God wants you to repetitively and repeatedly to come to him with your praises, thanks, confessions, and needs. As opportunity allows, pray. That’s what it means to “pray without ceasing.”


Pastor Chance

Recent Posts

See All

In this digital age, where everyone’s opinion can be expressed, social media is rife with armchair quarterbacks who tear into others without understanding the issues on which they opine or offering vi

Is our world going to hell in a handbasket? Many think so. Maybe they’re right. We do know that a future tribulation will come upon the earth (see the book of Revelation), but the Lord never tells us

In the “Spiritual Gifts” Sunday school class, we’ve explored different spiritual gifts. One gift is prophecy. I do not believe that prophecy—telling someone what God says, thinks, or will do in the fu