Two words in Ephesians 1:16— [I] cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers—stand out: cease not.
A second principle we see in Paul’s prayer life is that prayer is constant communion. Prayer is far more than just “talking to God,” much more than just “telling God our troubles,” and infinitely more than just “asking and receiving.” First and foremost, prayer is constant communion. What does this term mean? Simply this: constant communion with God means a continuous consciousness of God’s presence in which we view everything in life in relation to Him.
For example, if we meet someone, we immediately consider where they stand with the Lord. If we hear of something bad happening, we react by praying for God to act in the situation for His glory and people’s good. If we hear of something good that has happened, we respond with immediate praise to God for it because we know He is glorified. In short, we view everything that comes along from a spiritual perspective. When Paul looked around his world, everything he saw prompted him to prayer in some way. When he thought of or heard about one of his beloved churches, it moved him toward communion with God.
Nehemiah provides a wonderful example of such praying without ceasing. King Artaxerxes noticed that Nehemiah was sad and asked him why, at which time Nehemiah told him of the destruction of Jerusalem. The king then asked Nehemiah to make a request of him that he might grant it. Before replying that the King send him to Judah, Nehemiah prayed a quick, brief prayer (Neh. 2:4). In the midst of a stressful situation, Nehemiah was conscious of God’s purpose. What a contrast that is to today’s popular emphasis on the The Prayer of Jabez, where we are encouraged to pray, “Bless me, God!” That’s not what Nehemiah prayed, or, for that matter, what Paul or our Lord ever prayed. No, Nehemiah was concerned with what God wanted.
May I submit, if we do not view prayer in this way, we will soon view God only as one we call on in time of need; without this attitude, we will lose touch with God. This is what is referred to in I Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing,” and Luke 18:1, “That men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”
Having said that, prayer also demands conscious effort, however. We must have times of specific prayer, times when we consciously and thoughtfully bring things to God. There is a beautiful balance between this and constant communion, for our times of “specific prayer” are actually an outworking of our “constant communion.”
Here is a blessed truth! As we are continuously conscious of God’s presence, He will bring people and needs to our minds so that we may bring them before His throne. If we are not in constant communion with God, He cannot bring things to our minds.
Ponder: When was the last time a certain person came to your mind and you could not dismiss him or her from your thoughts? Perhaps you called them on the telephone and told them that you were just thinking about them, just wondering how they were getting along. What did God just do? As you were weighing your life and other’s lives before the Lord, looking at everything in relation to God, He brought that person to mind.
All this is in view in Paul’s words. As he went about his daily tasks, ever conscious of God, God brought certain ones to his conscious mind—one in Ephesus, another in Philippi, two more in Colosse, and countless others in churches he had planted. Later in Ephesians, Paul writes, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (6:18). Oh, may this be true of every pastor and every other Believer.