What would happen if you prayed continually? Suffice it to say that your life would change dramatically. Since, even as Christians, we struggle to live as close to God as we should, this is something we can always improve on. No, don’t look at this challenge as impossible. Rather, view it as an opportunity to become the very best version of yourself. Remember that you can do nothing apart from Jesus. Ask Him to work in you so that prayer becomes a constant trait in your life–until you can’t help but pray.
Where does the idea for this post come from? It’s inspired by a command in the scriptures. But it’s more than a command. It’s a powerful invitation from God to live a fuller, happier life than you ever dreamed. It’s not an invitation as the world offers—you know the routine—promising you much but delivering next to nothing.
God’s invitation promises you much and delivers on it. But God doesn’t just keep his promise in a status quo manner as we often do. Instead, He provides more than you could ever imagine for the small efforts you make. It’s far better than the lame health and wealth offers peddled by fake prosperity preachers. Let’s take a look at a scripture that will completely transform your life if you put it into practice:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Praying continually won’t make God calm all the "waves" in your life. He cares too much for you to allow complacency to creep in. You can count on those "tsunamis" shrinking, however as you seek the One who can calm your heart despite a world full of troubles. What He desires from you is constant "eye-contact" despite those waves. He wants to see spiritual growth in his children just as any good earthly parent would desire physical growth in their children.
Never forget how much you need to perpetually cry out to Him regardless of your season of life. Whether you’re in a time of rest or deep turmoil, He longs to talk with you and share life with you through it all. What are some specific benefits you can expect if you begin to pray without ceasing? Let’s look at a few of them.
Your Worry, Stress and Anxiety Levels Will Greatly Decrease
Before going any further, let’s be clear about something. This doesn’t mean continual prayer will completely eradicate your anxiety or feelings of stress. Even Jesus couldn’t avoid that much because, although He was God and perfectly sinless, He lived in a weak, human body. A body that continually felt the weight of a sinful world just as we do. In doing the Father’s will, He sweated drops of blood before the crucifixion. He also was greatly troubled over the death of Lazarus.
The apostle Paul mentioned that he and his fellow missionaries faced so many challenges in Asia that they despaired of life. And one doesn’t have to read very far into Hebrews 11 to discover that the holy saints of generations past were deeply perplexed and troubled at times although they were God’s children. We see the same constant theme throughout the Psalms as David regularly pours his heart out before God over his struggles. And say nothing of Job. Although he was the most righteous man on earth at that time, he absolutely drowned in grief after losing his children, workers, financial resources, reputation and health.
Having mentioned that, Jesus didn’t say that his yoke was easy and his burden was light for nothing. We all face overwhelming life circumstances (even daily ones) we were never meant to bear alone. Besides that, we constantly need God’s help to overcome sin and fulfill his plan for us. So, we perpetually go to the Father out of our weakness because we literally don’t know what else to do. He’s the only One with unconditional love and unlimited resources to help us.
The perfect example of this is the story of Martha and Mary in the scriptures. Martha was running all over the place trying to serve others and stressed out to the max as a result. In contrast, Mary quietly sat at Jesus’ feet, drinking in his words like a cold cup of water on a hot day. Finally, in exasperation, Martha appealed to Jesus asking Him to get Mary to help her. And what did Jesus do? He certainly didn’t say to Mary, "Get up lazy bones and help that hard-working woman!" Quite the opposite, in fact. Let’s take a look:
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’
And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:38-42)
This passage isn’t putting down hard work. There’s a bigger message than that we don’t want to miss. Anxious striving and constant hard work mean nothing if we aren’t in a thriving relationship with our Savior. If we’re always too stressed out and busy to sit at the feet of our Savior, we need to re-evaluate our lives. Work and money shouldn’t be an idol. Stress, anxiety and worry should never control and dictate what happens in our life. Only Jesus should.
Even doing good works can get in the way of our relationship with God as happened with Martha. Well-known pastor, John Piper once said something similar in a sermon clip entitled, "If You Don’t Pray, You Won’t Live". He admitted that what most tempted him not to pray were all the good things he was doing. But, as we see from this story, even good actions mean little apart from regularly conversing with God. Our righteous actions should flow from our ongoing interaction with God, not impede it!
Make time for Jesus and He’ll make a way for you to sit at his feet. And when you get up from sitting there, you’ll find you’ve left much of your anxiety, worry and stress with Jesus. Your Savior doesn’t mind because He’s more than able to handle your concerns.
Jesus doesn’t need your actions and service, but He wants to be in relationship with you. He perfectly loves you–so much more than any sinful person ever could. Continual, ongoing interaction with the Prince of Peace is sure to bring you regular peace. And where there is peace, much of that stress, worry and anxiety will die away. Although stress and anxiety aren’t completely avoidable, worry, specifically, is a sin. It’s the consequence of not trusting God about what’s going on in our lives. But Jesus gave the remedy for such anxious struggles:
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:31-33)
Overcoming Sin and Doing Good Works Will Get Much Easier
What will happen to the sin in your life if you continually pray? It’ll greatly diminish. It’s impossible to spend that much time with a perfect God and not be changed, after all. It turns out that the saying, "a lot more is caught than taught" applies to more than just human-to-human relationships. It applies even more so to our relationship with God. He’ll do more than simply help you get rid of the sinful actions in your life through continual prayer. He’ll also enable you to bear fruit or do good works just as Jesus talked about in John 15:
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)
Just as your household appliances are useless if they’re not plugged into an electrical outlet, you cannot overcome sin and carry out God’s will on your own strength. Jesus shared that the only way for us to do his will (bear fruit) is to remain in Him. Besides regular Bible study and fellowship with God’s people, that means ongoing prayer. There literally isn’t any power of eternal value in your life without prayer.
Many times, we forget our need for prayer. We become frustrated with our lives and may even feel like "throwing it all away". But, think about this: Would you throw away your refrigerator if it didn’t work because it wasn’t plugged in? Of course not. In the same way, we shouldn’t give up on ourselves (or others).
Just like that refrigerator, you can’t function like you were meant to without a power source. That power for people can only be provided by God as his Holy Spirit works in and through us. You’re only a channel for God’s power to surge through. You can’t create that power on your own—none of us can. If you’re fed up with the sin and fruitlessness of your life, begin a habit of regular prayer. Your life with prayer can be much more fulfilling than what you’ve experienced without it.
You’ll Develop a Greater Love for God and His Word
A greater love for God and his word is a natural result of continual prayer. Has it ever felt awkward as you read that lengthy Psalm 119? You know, the Psalm where David goes on and on about how much He loves the Bible. David passionately expresses his love for God’s word and laws. If it felt awkward that’s because you were reading the Bible too much like a textbook (We’re all prone to do that). A self-reflective person would read that Psalm and ask, "Wow, do I love God’s laws that much?"
There’s only one way to grow in your love for God’s word and that’s to grow in your love for God. How does that relationship grow? A crucial way is through communication with God. And once you interact with God continually, your love for God will be strong. What’s the natural result of that strong love for the Lord? You’ll value his words in the Bible more than you ever have before. Like King David, you’ll eagerly speak about how much you love God’s word because you’ll passionately love the Author of those words.
Apart from a thriving relationship with God, you aren’t capable of loving his word. There’s no way to "psyche yourself up" enough to achieve it. For those who try to value the Bible but reject the God of the Bible, things fall apart pretty fast. How so?
Apart from God’s power accessed through a relationship with God, scripture actually makes us want to sin more. What happens when there are known laws against certain practices in society? If people think they can get away with breaking those laws, they’ll often try. The depravity of people causes them to do wrong all the more once they know there’s a law against it. Breaking the law actually becomes more desirable because it’s forbidden.
Who did Jesus give the hardest time to during his ministry? His most blistering confrontations were directed at the teachers of religious law. Why? Because although they continually read and taught the laws of God, their hearts hadn’t been changed–at least not in a good way. In fact, those religious leaders who boasted of their Bible knowledge repeatedly tried to trap and kill Jesus. They put on a good show in front of people but Jesus saw right through their hearts. That’s why He called them "blind guides" and many other unflattering terms.
Read and learn the scriptures only if you have a desire to get to know the God of the scriptures through regular prayer. Otherwise, God’s laws will only increase your sin and accountability to God. The Apostle Paul who wrote much of the New Testament was the ultimate example of a religious hypocrite before discovering an authentic relationship with God.
He was as strict as they come in religious observance as a Pharisee. He had Christians imprisoned and murdered before coming to Christ. When he finally found a relationship with God, he called himself the worst of sinners. Before conversion, God’s laws minus an authentic relationship with God warped his heart, making him uniquely sinister. Thankfully, God had other plans for him.
Regardless of where you find yourself in life, what you most need is a growing, healthy relationship with God through continual prayer. Jesus told the woman at the well that God’s followers in the future would worship Him in spirit and truth. How is that done today? We primarily worship God in spirit by talking with Him. We mainly worship Him in truth by learning his word and meditating on it.
In summary, learning the Bible isn’t enough. We also need to know the God of the Bible personally. Conversely, praying without Bible knowledge will lead us astray when it comes to recognizing who God really is. We need the scriptures to help us understand who we’re praying to, how to interact with God and how to maintain and unhindered relationship with Him. Both prayer and scripture knowledge are vital. Continual prayer, as said earlier, is guaranteed to increase your love for God and the Bible.
You’ll Value What Really Matters in Life
If you learn to pray continually, you’ll find yourself valuing things in life that are the opposite of what the world esteems. That won’t be such a big deal after a while because you’ll be pointed in the right direction and pursuing what really matters. Expect persecution at this point regardless of where you live in the world. Your values simply won’t align with what the sinful world system deems important. You’ll care less and less about the opposition as you regularly pour your heart out to God. That’s because you’ll have the One who’s truly valuable and that’ll be more than enough.
You don’t have to look very far in today’s society to notice that we usually have mixed-up priorities. We often place high value on things that aren’t that important. Because of our sinful nature, we’re also prone to devalue the aspects of life that are truly valuable. We regularly see money chosen over family, employees and God, for instance.
The same thing happened in Jesus’ culture. Jesus confronted the Pharisees (the supposed spiritual leaders of that day) for devouring widow’s houses. The religious leaders were notorious for stealing money from the weakest and most vulnerable people in society. Ironically, they did this although they meticulously tithed everything–even the spices they grew in their gardens. They were wolves in sheep’s clothing instead of true shepherds.
What did the Pharisees value? In most cases, it wasn’t people or God. And that’s a big problem considering that the greatest commandments given by God are to love God and people. What did the Pharisees love instead? They loved wealth and employed dishonest ways of gaining it. The Pharisees also loved the praise of people even though, ironically, they didn’t regularly show love to the people they craved that praise from. The religious leaders of that day also desired power and control over others instead of serving out of a humble and loving heart. Because Jesus’ real authority threatened their power, wealth and reputation, they sought to kill Him.
But it wasn’t just the grossly negligent of Jesus’ day that struggled to assign proper value to what really mattered—It also happened with Jesus’ disciples. When parents brought their young children to Jesus so He could bless them, the disciples scolded the parents. In the disciples’ minds, Jesus was far too busy with "high-powered ministry operations" to be bothered by a bunch of kids. Sound familiar in today’s culture which even values the convenience of a parent over the God-given life of a child?
What did Jesus say in response to his disciples?
Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. (Matthew 19:14)
Jesus was constantly in touch with his Father in Heaven and that made all the difference. Continual prayer can do the same for us although we must fight indwelling sin. If you boil down the purpose of Jesus’ ministry, you can say this: First, He came to show sinful people how to take less valuable things less seriously. Secondly, he came to show sinful people how to take more valuable things more seriously.
The disciples didn’t value these children coming to Jesus like they should’ve and, in doing so, likely reflected the prevailing belief of that culture. Children had even less status than women in the culture of Jesus’ day. And given how little respect women were given, that wasn’t much. Children are too often viewed as a hassle rather than a blessed gift from God. The children couldn’t give money to religious activities, they didn’t have connections to the "right" people or have credentials after their names.
There’s one crucial thing those children did have, however. They possessed a simple faith in God—the ability to see the value in things that matter. Jesus, when his disciples were arguing about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, told them that unless they became like children, they would never even see the Kingdom of God. Adulthood and the pressures of this life apart from an ongoing relationship with God have a way of blinding us to what life is truly about.
It would be nice if this incident with the disciples and the children was an isolated one but, alas, it wasn’t. For instance, Peter rebuked Jesus attempting to get Him to choose life preservation over the crucifixion. But Jesus rebuked him saying he had the things of man in mind rather than the things of God. Later, Peter chose to preserve his own life by denying Christ three times. There are many other examples in the gospels of the disciples choosing to find value in lesser things. This just proves that we all struggle with the right perspective on life more than we often can comprehend.
The only One who was able to perfectly assign value in this life was Jesus. Even when the Devil tempted Him in the wilderness with things of lesser value, Jesus held firm. He knew the infinite blessings of God (true riches as Jesus called them) were of far greater value than what Satan offered. In essence, Satan offered Jesus "fake plastic jewels". Jesus’ Father in Heaven, however, offered Him endless Heavenly glorification and real riches at the proper time. Jesus wisely resisted Satan’s temptations throughout his earthly life.
This life isn’t about finding our life or carving out a path of "success" apart from God. Although the world esteems such things, God does not. Jesus shared that for us to save our life, we have to lose it. We have to give up what we naturally view as important and embrace what God values. What matters most in life? Loving God and people. What are the very things that sinful man cannot do on his own apart from God? Loving God and loving people.
It is possible to be a raving success by the world’s standards but enter the next life eternally separated from God. That’s why Jesus warned against us gaining the whole world only to lose our soul. That’s also why we need continual prayer to maintain a correct perspective on what true riches are and what they aren’t.
11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? (Luke 16:11)
In Summary: You’ll Gain Much More Through Continual Prayer Than You Can Imagine!
God is a limitless, infinite and loving God. We’re told that those who come to Him must believe that He is and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. But in doing so, we gain infinitely more than we could’ve imagined in this life and the next. Not only do we enjoy Heaven and true riches after death, but we also enjoy the closest version of Heaven someone can experience here on earth. No, this isn’t some snake-oil salesman’s gimmick that promises to make us healthy, wealthy and comfortable in this life. Instead, God gives us peace in our hearts despite the storms of life.
Through continual prayer, you’ll be far more confident about what decisions you should and shouldn’t make. Not only will you sin far less, but you’ll also gain much better insight into the specific path you should take in life given your unique personality and giftedness. But more than anything else, you’ll gain the favor of your Maker.
21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ (Matthew 25:21)
It’s often difficult for us to understand just how valuable and glorious He is. But to gain a relationship with God is to gain everything. You could say that, in a sense, Heaven is a Person before it’s a place. God is what makes Heaven so infinitely wonderful because He is infinitely wonderful. Without God, it would be the opposite of Heaven.
Nothing else compares to the beauty of knowing God. No one else’s approval ultimately matters but his. Only He can meet your deepest needs of unconditional love and affection. Only He can bring you home to Heaven so you can always be in his presence from that day forward. That is a day you will never struggle again. You will have found everything that ever mattered in God. And to have found Him will be to have found everything. Until that day comes, continual prayer will bring you right to the throne room of Heaven itself and to the God who dwells there!