Defining Prayer in the Church Age, Doctrine of prayer part 4; John 14:14

Class Outline:

/3. Prayer is commanded:


a. Prayer is mandated in the OT (JER 33:3) and the NT,  1 Thess 5:17 pray without ceasing; [make a habit of prayer, habitual and spontaneously; always be in a ready frame of mind to pray].\


Turn to 1Thess 5.


In verses 16-18 we are commanded to have inner happiness, to pray, and to give thanks, and for each of them there is attached an adverb stating it is to be so at all times.


1 Thess 5:16 Rejoice [have inner happiness] always [at all times or at all occasions] [shortest verse in the Greek NT];


/ “Have inner happiness at all times,”\ [this does not refer to outbursts of emotion over everything.]


1 Thess 5:17 pray without ceasing [incessantly];


/ “without ceasing” - adialeiptos [adialeiptos] = without intermission, incessantly, assiduously. \


1 Thess 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.



Therefore, it is not just prayer that is in the category of unceasingly, but also the entire metal attitude of the believer in being filled with the spirit, having faith, taking in doctrine, giving thanks, experiencing inner happiness, being occupied with Christ, etc.


/The concept of assiduousness (i.e. everything, all, and at all times) appears over 1250 times in the NT in connection with all things related to the plan of God. \


It is obvious that we cannot be doing them all at the same time at every moment.


Can I be taking in doctrine, praying and serving at the same time? Can I be rejoicing, singing, praying and comforting another believer all at the same time?


However, there are so many of these attitudes and virtues that do occur simultaneously. I can rejoice in prayer and I can sing and give thanks as well as pray and give thanks. So, when and where is the believer to do what God desires Him to do? That would take me a year to answer, so let’s just stick with prayer.


How do I apply “without ceasing” to my prayer life?


I believer Albert Barnes’ puts it the best out of all the commentators and pastors that I’ve read concerning this verse.


/1 Thessalonians 5:17 [1890’s]

(1) That we are to be regular and constant in the observance of the stated seasons of prayer. We are to observe the duty of prayer in the closet, in the family, and in the assembly convened to call on the name of the Lord. We are not to allow this duty to be interrupted or intermitted by any trifling cause. We are so to act that it may be said we pray regularly in the closet, in the family, and at the usual seasons when the church prays to which we belong.\


/(2) We are to maintain an uninterrupted and constant spirit of prayer. We are to be in such a frame of mind as to be ready to pray publicly if requested; and when alone, to improve any moment of leisure which we may have when we feel ourselves strongly inclined to pray. \


/That Christian is in a bad state of mind who has suffered himself, by attention to worldly cares, or by light conversation, or by gaiety and vanity, or by reading an improper book, or by eating or drinking too much, or by late hours at night among the thoughtless and the vain, to be brought into such a condition that he cannot engage in prayer with proper feelings.\


[I would substitute mental attitude for feelings]


/ There has been evil done to the soul if it is not prepared for communion with God at all times, and if it would not find pleasure in approaching his holy throne. \ [end quote]


That is not legalistic in any way. To be ready to pray at all times, whenever the occasion presents itself (what Barnes’ calls a “season.”) means to be filled with the Spirit; not residing in the cosmic system.


This is another reason to keep short accounts of your personal sins. When they occur, name them and cite them, and get back into the plan of God as a ready priest, ready to pray to your Father at any time.


Naturally, this word also means daily prayer time set apart and quiet, where you can speak to your Father in secret.


The Lord consistently left the crowds as well as the disciples to go to a quiet place to pray.


/ “without ceasing” - private prayer [inner room], spontaneous prayer [anywhere], public prayer [local church, family, outreach, etc.].\


Petition, intercessory prayer and thanksgiving are all in view in every instance of prayer; always to the Father in the name of the Son and while filled with the Holy Spirit, as well as always in the intimacy and respect of a son to a Father.


/Private prayer includes thanksgiving, prayer for others including the president, government, military, PT, etc., and prayer for self. It does not have to be wordy.\


Matt 6:6 "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room [KJV - closet], and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.


/ “repay you” -  apodidomai [apodidomai] = to give or do something in fulfillment of an obligation or expectation, i.e. answer to prayer. God never “repays” man for his merits or work. \


Matt 6:7 "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.


Matt 6:8 "Therefore do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him.


[The our Father prayer is mentioned after this and we will dedicate a point to that before we finish this doctrine.]


/Spontaneous prayer may include only one request, or only a few. Mechanics of protocol still applies and these may be frequent.\





/2 Kings 6:17

Then Elisha prayed and said, "O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." And the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. \


/JoNAH 2:1-2

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the stomach of the fish, and he said,

"I called out of my distress to the Lord,

And He answered me.

I cried for help from the depth of Sheol;

Thou didst hear my voice. \


/Public prayer is always brief and directly to the point. It should include thanksgiving and intercession and some petition, if at all. Mechanics of protocol still applies and it is the least frequent.\


/Acts 20:36

And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. \


All the protocols of effective prayer still applies including the avoidance of meaningless repetition.




/b. Prayer, both petition and intercessory is commanded, as well as praying while filled with the Spirit. Prayer is revealed as the seventh piece of the armor of God given to every believer, EPH 6:18.\


The armor is graciously given to every believer at the moment of salvation.


EPH 6:13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.


EPH 6:14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth [belt of truth - #1], and having put on the breastplate of righteousness [2],


EPH 6:15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace [good news of prosperity - #3];


EPH 6:16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith [4] with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one.


EPH 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation [5], and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God [6].



It seems that at this point the armor is complete, but 6 items would point to humanity rather than perfection since six is the number of man while 7 is the number of divine perfection and completeness, therefore the armor would be more complete and fit more seamlessly into our understanding of the plan of God if there were 7 items.


EPH 6:18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit [7], and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,


EPH 6:19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,


EPH 6:20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.


/c. Thanksgiving in prayer is commanded, Phil 4:6.


Phil 4:6

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication [personal needs with reference to undeserved suffering] with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. \




/d. Faith rest in prayer is commanded, Matt 21:22.


Matt 21:22

"And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive." \


/e. Executing the plan of God for your life is commanded so that petitions and intercessions are received, 1Jn 3:22.\


/1 John 3:22

and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. \