Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-17)
Start short and straightforward.
To pray without ceasing means to have our minds constantly on the things of God to be in constant communication with him so that every moment may be as fruitful as possible.
Some people who can pray without ceasing seem gifted in prayer. They have regular, lengthy times of personal prayer and can stay vigilant and focused. Others seem to have a way with words in prayer. They know how to lift praise and supplications to God with faith and confidence that he hears and is pleased.
Like many people, I struggled with prayer. First, I have a history of getting stuck on myself in prayer. Second, I struggle to stay focused. I am an avid and accomplished daydreamer, which is often an enemy of extended, focused prayer. I may start well, but within a few minutes, I’m thinking about what I would have done differently if I had been the hero in that movie I saw last night. Or something that comes up in prayer reminds me of a Beatles lyric. During corporate prayer, I compare myself to others, which often makes me not want to pray out loud—but then I fear what people will think if I don’t.
In my private prayer time, I’ve found that more frequent, short prayer times usually work better than long periods of prayer. I can only be quiet for so long. When I attempt more extended periods of prayer, I need to constantly refocus (which is a valuable skill to develop in prayer and life but takes time and effort), and often I will not be able to sit still.
So don’t worry if your prayer times are short. Our limitations do not limit our Lord; he is exalted in them. Only our great God could glorify himself through such frail vessels as us. If we come to him in humility, for his glory, and to bear fruit through him, he will lovingly take whatever we have to offer—even if it is a trifle. Jesus died to reconcile us and bring us into a relationship with God. To keep that relationship flourishing, we dedicate ourselves to time with God through his Word and prayer, even if we initially stumble through it. God’s Spirit will expand our capacities, but we must trust him and faithfully take faltering steps into prayer.