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PRAISE AND PRAYER
by Milford Bowen
 

"Pray without ceasing" (without intermission, incessantly) (I Thessalonians 5:17). "Without ceasing" is a duration of uninterrupted time or space. We have a word for this. It is "Continuous". "Continual" is continuing for an indefinite time without interruption, and it recurs in a steady, rapid succession. "And (the disciples) were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen" (Luke 24:53). God tells us to pray CONTINUOUSLY, incessantly, without interruption or intermission. We have the example of he disciples CONTINUALLY praising God in the temple. 

"For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe" (I Thessalonians 2:13). We are thankful to God continuously as we pray. 

How do we pray without ceasing? After all, we have to sleep, eat and go to school or work. We have personal, business and social obligations that need our attention. There are meetings to go to, bills to pay, sickness to deal with and friends in need. How can we possibly be expected to be praying all the time and take care of all these things at the same time? We must put God first and foremost in our lives, whether it is at works or at play, in business dealing or social relationships. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33). Think on the things of God at all times. How does the situation fit in with God and His Word? 

Praying in the spirit keeps us in constant communion with God. "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;" (Ephesians 6:18). "For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also" (I Corinthians 14:14, 15). So, we pray with the understanding, but we also pray in the spirit, which is praying in tongues. You can pray in the spirit while you are doing just about anything, driving the car, preparing meals, studying for exams or in business meetings. There are so many things for us to pray for, but God wants us to just commune with Him first and foremost. 

When we pray to God in the spirit we give praise to Him. "For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify (praise) God." (Acts 10:46). 

To "praise God" is to praise, to magnify, to extol, to sing praises in honour to God. "And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen" (Luke 19:37). 

"By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually (constantly or always), that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name" (Hebrews 13:15). 

We praise God when our hearts well up with love and thankfulness for what He has done for us. We praise God in times of tragedy and turmoil. We know that trials and tribulations are not from God. They are orchestrated by our adversary, who always wants to steal, and to kill, and to destroy God's people. But we can praise God anyway. We are not praising Him for the tribulation brought on by the adversary. We praise God for who He is, for His love and goodness, for His deliverance. 

We don't have to praise God audibly, for all to hear, like the pharisees. We praise God by acknowledging Him as our heavenly Father, and because He gave His only son for our reconciliation and deliverance. 

The Psalmist who wrote these words must have been going through some troubling times. Yet, he still had hope in God, and he would praise Him for His help. "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance" (Psalm 42:5). 

Psalm 34 reveals a man who was in trouble. (See verses 4, 6, 18,19) What was the first thing He did? He came to God. In verse one he says, "I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth" (Psalm 34:1). Surely he was not praising God for his troubles. He was praising God for who He is, and for what He had done. 

A lot of Christians pray "gimme" prayers – "give me this" or "give me that" They don't give much praise to God in their desire to get results from praying. 

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he began with praise to his heavenly father. "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:9, 10). Only after that did he pray " Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:" (Verses 11-13a). And then he closes the prayer with another expression of praise. "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen" (verse 13b). –meb