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Pray Without Ceasing

One of the verses of scripture that I used to find perplexing is 1 Thessalonians 5:17. The Apostle Paul writes, “Pray without ceasing” or “Pray continually.” How do we pray without ceasing? Does Paul expect us to be on our knees all day, every day in constant prayer? That’s certainly not practical. What gives? Before attempting an answer I’d like to share a story from Judy Pulley about a time in her life when she had to “pray without ceasing.” Here is her story in her own words:
“Have you ever had a time in your life where a prayer request was so heavy you didn’t know how to form the words? One of my life’s heaviest trials was like that. There were people all around me, but I felt alone and helpless.Angela Loelle LewisMy third child is Angela Noelle Lewis, she was born September 11, 1978. She was full term and she came into this world weighing 8 pounds 13 ounces. She was a beautiful, healthy looking baby. She looked perfect!
When she was two days old I was looking at her through the hospital nursery window, and I noticed the nurse and doctor rushing around her looking worried. I tapped on the glass to find out what the concern was, only to be told they would be checking her blood pressure. In 1978, that was not a typical vital sign they checked at birth. Dr. David Arkin told me Angela had high blood pressure!
What? How? Her pressure read 240/180. Unreal! She was quickly hooked up and monitored by so many devices. I was so upset that they placed me in a private room and the nuns of St. Mary’s would come to me and ask, “Where is your faith?” Faith? I couldn’t even think straight.
Then in a specialized ambulance that looked like a floating hospital she was transferred to MCV NICU. Once there, I was told they had never seen a baby with such high blood pressure and an enlarged heart. All of these things happened before she was born. I didn’t know what to do. I just needed my baby safe and healthy.The doctors said they would perform a test the next day, but the test would be invasive and may result in her losing a limb. My mind was racing and the whole room was spinning.
Prayer Without Ceasing: Angela and Judy PulleyThat night with a lot of coffee, I did as scripture tells us to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. I “prayed without ceasing.” I prayed non stop! The next day I met with three doctors and they said, “We have something to tell you.” My heart stopped, what could it be? One doctor said, “You kept insisting we recheck her heart and so I did and I couldn’t believe it. Your baby’s heart went back to its normal size over night and it’s nothing we have done.
I believe this to be a miracle of God.” Yes it was! Only God could do that! Angela got to come home without the invasive test and she only had to take blood pressure medicine. Through unceasing prayer, I believe God performed a miracle for Angela. That was a lesson for me. I’m so thankful for my beautiful daughter and so thankful that we can come to God through prayer and take all we have to Him in prayer.”
What an inspirational story! How does Judy’s story help our prayer life? There are certainly times when our prayer life will need to resemble Judy’s intense night of prayer. But here’s the good news. The God who did this amazing miracle for Judy and Angela is very much present in the ordinariness of life. God is with us as we go to work, or do laundry, or prepare a meal, or play with our children. This is what the Apostle Paul is trying to get us to understand. Paul is imploring us to live our lives in a constant awareness of God’s presence so that God is always in our hearts and in our thoughts. If we can live in a state of constant “God awareness” then our lives become a prayer; a sacred offering of ourselves back to the God who created and sustains us. That is how we “pray without ceasing.” May God bless Judy Pulley and her family and may God bless the Bethel Church Family.

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