16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise prophecies, 21but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22Abstain from every form of evil. —1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
The history of Harvest Bible Chapel, more than anything else, is really a story of the prayers of God's people. Before there was ever a church, before there was ever any focused gathering of people, there were people praying. We used to have these prayer meetings in our home. Kathy would get all the women together. They could all fit into our house in Arlington Heights, and they would pray and pray for God to work and for people to be saved in our services and for glory to come down. The men would get together on Friday mornings. I think for ten or fifteen years we got together—Pastor Rick and me and a group of men—every single Friday morning at the church at 7:00. And of course, now our staff begins each week with a prayer time. And every winter and every summer we have weeks of various opportunities for prayer—24 hours of prayer; five-day prayer vigils; seven-day prayer exercises; prayer and fasting; prayer in different ways.
Because here’s the thing about prayer: More than any other spiritual discipline, prayer is the practice that keeps crawling off the table. I mean, “I had that prayer life on a roll, I had that devotional buzz going. I had figured prayer out! So, where did my prayer life go, man? I was fired up, I was on it, and then it got away.”
As a pastor, I’ve had to keep prayer as a frequent sermon subject alongside our concerted efforts to practice prayer throughout our life together. I have learned this because prayer keeps getting away. The preaching seems to always come out and we love to gather to worship. But prayer, if you don't go get it and take hold if it and bring it back to the priority that it needs to be again and again, just kind of gets away from you. I trust you will look up from reading these pages and decide, “I'm going to get my prayer thing going again. I’m going to build some reminders into my life that I can’t afford to lose track of prayer.” —James MacDonald
· What would it look like in my life to pray without ceasing?
· What did Paul expect the Thessalonians to do with that encouragement from him?
Prayer – Father, prayer does get away from me! I never have to try hard to get prayer-less! Teach me and lead me toward a life that practices a running conversation with You all the time. Help me develop the habit of including You in my life every moment of my day. Show me the delight of praying without ceasing! In Jesus’ prayer-worthy name, Amen.