We (myself definitely included) tend to get frustrated with God when we pray about something and He doesn’t give us an immediate answer. So we pray again. And again. And again. And often, we’re still frustrated.
I realized tonight that when we do that, we’re not praying the way God tells us to.
1 Thessalonians 5:17: “Pray without ceasing.”
Not “pray often.” Not “pray repeatedly.”
God, I have noticed, tends to work less often in the instantaneous and more often as a process. He knows that’s best for us. That that’s how we’ll grow and trust Him. I think we’d start taking Him for granted pretty quickly if we prayed and BOOM, He handed us what we ask for. He responds over time. We tend to pray only when we want something and stop when we receive it. God wants us to have a relationship with Him, and so He wants us to be in constant communication with Him.
It’s not some form of divine manipulation, as if He were dangling the carrot of our desires in front of our faces to keep us moving forward in pursuit of something that we’ll never quite reach, but a give-and-take, like any healthy relationship.
Pray. Without. Ceasing.
God isn’t a puzzle that we need to find the secret combination of the right words to say or the right number of times to get down on our knees before He’ll respond to us. He is always in the process of responding. Sometimes not the way we want Him to. But in the way that He knows is best.
Directly before the instruction to pray without ceasing is the instruction to “rejoice always.”
Directly after, the instruction to “give thanks in all circumstances.”