Editor’s note: This is the first of a series called The Real Truth about Prayer.
By: Justine Johnson
Many people have a problem with prayer. No, I don’t mean that they think it is bad, rather that they have a problem with the act of prayer. We are all called by God to pray, and anyone who does not is living in disobedience. Let’s discuss our call to prayer more in-depth.
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
In less than twenty words, the Creator of vocabulary established a clear blueprint for what prayer should look like. Not only are we to pray all the time, we are also called to rejoice and give thanks for everything. That sounds like a very tall order, doesn’t it? Well, it really isn’t as bad as it sounds.
Attitude is the key to a healthy prayer life. A cheerful spirit will automatically be more inclined to rejoice when praying. A rejoicing heart will be more willing to give thanks for everything in life. A life worth giving thanks for is formed by a healthy prayer life. See how it all works together?
So how do you keep on rejoicing? I think the simplest way to do it is to simply remind yourself of the blessings that are in your life. I know it could be daunting to attempt a mass prayer thanking God for every single thing that comes to mind, so here’s a simpler method: Start off by thanking God for the necessities in life—food, water, shelter, clothing, and transportation. Then thank Him for blessing you with family, friends, a good job, etc. You will be rejoicing without even realizing it by praising your Maker for the simple things in life.
Above all other things to be thankful for, however, is God Himself. Thank Him for being constant; keep in mind that even if not a single person existed, He would still be sovereign and perfect. It baffles me to remember His faithfulness in all situations.
Another way to pray without ceasing is by sporadic prayer throughout your day. I began carrying on a constant conversation with God when I was about twelve years old, and in the six years since then I have continued to draw closer to Christ. Tell Him how your day is going; when something you dislike happens, tell Him how much you hated it! If a happy moment comes, thank Him for it. Further, when you are sitting in your dorm room and you are bored because you are the only one without homework, tell Him that. God loves to hear about our lives—He created us to be in communion with Him and what better way to do so than to have a long conversation?
You don’t only have to pray randomly, though. For me, intentionally praying for specific people while I take a shower and get ready for the day is a great way to build up good prayer habits. We’ll touch more on praying for others in a later post.
I have been challenged on more than one occasion to think about the following statement: If you were to wake up tomorrow and discover that everything in your life was gone except for those things that you thanked God for, what would you have left? One time I realized that all I would have had left were a few people that I had happened to pray for the night before. That was very sobering.
If you were to wake up tomorrow and discover that everything in your life was gone except for those things that you thanked God for, what would you have left?
Thank God for at least one thing that He has given you. When a difficult homework assignment or a test is looming before you, thank Him that you were given the opportunity to live with other people your age and stretch your mind in ways you didn’t imagine before. Every time the food in the cafeteria stinks, thank Jesus that you even have food to eat. Most importantly, thank God in every circumstance for loving you even while you were still a sinner.
Next time we will discuss taking up the armor of God through prayer. Food for thought until then: how often do you thank God for the little things in life? Did your prayer life before college look any different than it does now? If so, why? Tell us in the comment section below!