This excerpt is taken from M.Basilea Schlink’s book “Keeping In Touch With God.” I find it helpful and relevant in the very challenging times the world finds itself in. Cultivating a life of prayer talking to the Lord as a friend would to a friend is something very precious and life-giving for all who would make prayer without ceasing a spiritual discipline. The title of this excerpt is “Pray Without Ceasing”.
“HOW WONDERFUL IT IS when a person is so gripped by the spirit of prayer that these words can be written about him: He lives a life of prayer, because he does everything prayerfully.
I am reminded of an incident may years ago, during my travelling ministry. It struck me especially forcefully, since I was not familiar with such a life of prayer at that time. A woman had asked her colleague to take some goods to the railway station to be transported somewhere. As the young co-worker was about to leave, the older woman paused for a moment in her work, folded her hands in prayer, and commended her colleague to the blessing of the Lord.
An insignificant incident – and yet it had a message. Here was a woman who led a life of prayer. She could not help but do everything prayerfully. Prayer shaped her whole life. Prayer was such a reality to her that its impact was felt in every area of her life, guiding what she did or did not do, causing her to pause in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
As I watched that woman stop to pray, her action deeply convicted me. To be sure, I had my quiet time every morning, when I brought everything before the Lord in prayer. However, in the course of the day, I would go about my various tasks without first pausing to pray. Often, I was so taken up with my work that there was no time to stop and think, or – to be honest- I did not take time to stop and think, the time to be still before the Lord.
This small incident conveyed an important truth: Our life will become a life of prayer only as we live in the presence of God; that is, only as we repeatedly become still before the Lord throughout the day, bringing before Him our thoughts, plans, intentions and actions, submitting everything to Him, asking for His guidance and blessing. This is probably what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, “Pray constantly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
What a privilege to do everything prayerfully, in keeping with His will, listening for His directions and instructions. When we submit everything we do and say to God, calling down His blessing upon it then our actions and words will acquire a heavenly radiance and yield fruit. Yet how seldom we make use of this privilege! Are we surprised that our words, dealings with others, work and various activities produce so few lasting results? Only a life of prayer is fruitful, for it is lived in close communion with Jesus, who said: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
It is not enough to commit the day in prayer to God in the morning and then ignore Him as we throw ourselves into our activities. No, prayer is the breath of the soul. I need to breathe over and over again; otherwise I cannot live. Leading a life of prayer means discussing with God everything the day brings, everything that touches my life, for prayer is the soul’s communication with God.
The praying soul is someone who keeps in touch with God. Such a person does not allow people and things to absorb or dominate him; nor does he lose himself in them. On the contrary, a praying soul loses himself in God. He approaches people and situation in union with God. Consequently, the praying person is a person who imparts blessing. Everything with which he comes into contact is brought into the radiant presence of God and under His blessing. A person who blesses lifts everything in prayer into the heavenly regions, so that it bears the imprint of heaven.
Continual communion with the holy God is what gives a life of prayer its special quality, making it fruitful and blessed. Whoever spends his life in this manner is united with God, reflecting peace, serenity and joy.
Some are experienced in spiritual warfare and yet fail to lead a life of prayer. After engaging in spiritual warfare, they just switch off, failing to maintain a prayerful attitude in word and action. Something is wrong, for the Bible says that everything we do, be it word or deed, we are to do in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:17). Because He is the same yesterday, today and forever and always present, we will, if our attitude is right, always aim to live in complete dependence upon Him. God is not interested in us merely engaging in spiritual warfare at certain times, even though this, too, is necessary. His concern is that our whole life will be a life of prayer.
Without a strong and deep prayer life in these demonic times, we will be lost. We will be at the mercy of depressing events, trials and temptations. The vital prerequisite for experiencing help and deliverance is that we live in intimate union with Jesus and the Father, because it is prayer that changes everything.
God is challenging us to examine our lives in His light. What fills our days? What engrosses our minds? Can we really say that we take notice of the call to devote ourselves first of all to prayer (1 Timothy 2:1)?
Those who do everything here on earth in communion with their Lord will walk with Him above in intimate fellowship. But those who do not lead a life of prayer cannot expect to be close to God above. For we will only be as close to Him then as we are now in prayer.
Can we imagine people who love each other not communicating? If we love Jesus, we will discuss everything with Him, turning everything into prayer. We will keep coming to Him, wanting His direction for every detail of our lives, seeking His blessing.
How often we may have missed out on a blessing or, as parents and teachers, failed to convey a blessing to those in our care, because we did not consider it so important to lead a life of fellowship with God. Is this the reason why our lives are often so difficult, stressful and unhappy?
“The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and toil adds nothing to it.” (Proverbs 10:22). Everything depends on God’s blessing – at work, in our relationships with others, and so on. Instead of spending so much time talking about our difficulties or fretting about people or circumstances, let us spend more time in prayer, asking God to bless both others and ourselves and all their activities and ours.
How much power is conveyed by the scriptural prayer, so simply yet so beautifully expressed: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26)
Or we could say short prayers of blessing in our own words: “The Lord bless you in all your endeavours. May He give you love and wisdom to speak and act in His Spirit. Through the blood of Jesus may he guard your soul from all the attacks of the evil one.”
Weak, sinful and mortal though we are, through prayer we can have fellowship with God in our brief lives in this world. Could anything be more wonderful? What a privilege to invoke the blessing of the Most High through prayer. According to Numbers 6:27, blessing means placing the name of God upon a person. In the name of God lies His character. So when we pray of God’s blessing, we are calling down His love, wisdom, truth and salvation.
Oh that we would make more full use of this opportunity! Our lives would be transformed into a life of prayer. Then we would be more restrained in saying, doing and writing things which, were we at death’s door, we would deeply regret. First, we would bring to the Lord in prayer everything that stirs us, talking it over with Him. Then He who is love and humility would point out the way of love and patience. Though it leads through the valley of humiliation, it is there we find God’s blessing, which transforms us and others, and circumstances.
What a blessing the life of prayer is! What a blessing it is to do everything in union with Jesus, the fairest of the sons of men (Psalm 45:2)! One with Him in thanksgiving, supplication, worship and intercession, our souls rejoice, saying,
Living and dying in You,
May all I do – or choose not to do-
Be inspired by You.
Help me to keep this my pledge
In loving faithfulness
Till my dying breath.