“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).- 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Space limitations in these daily studies make it impossible to discuss every aspect of prayer Dr. R.C. Sproul has examined in the teaching series The Lord’s Prayer. Today we will look at a few topics from these lectures that we have not yet covered.
First, the Lord’s Prayer is not the only model for prayer found in sacred Scripture. In fact, the largest book of the Bible is made up entirely of inspired prayers that we do well to use in our private devotional lives. We are speaking, of course, about the book of Psalms.
Church historians have noted that the periods of greatest doctrinal and liturgical reform have been those eras in which people prayed and sung through the Psalter regularly. John Calvin, for example, accompanied his reform of the church with the reform of worship. Central to the services of praise and adoration in Geneva was the singing of the book of Psalms. Calvin himself is known to have commissioned the writing of metrical psalms (paraphrases of the Psalter) to facilitate congregational singing.
Speaking of paraphrases, one of the most effective means of structuring one’s prayer life consists in using the book of Psalms as a model for prayers. Many pastors have made it a custom to use the Psalter as a framework for their pastoral prayer each Sunday morning. A Psalm is selected each week, and the minister prays for the people according to the petitions in the Psalm. For example, if the Psalm begins with gratitude for deliverance, the preacher might thank God for a display of His power in the church’s life. The entire Psalm is used in this way so that if the Psalm asks for forgiveness, there is a plea for the Father to forgive the congregation, and so on.
Many people have trouble developing consistent, God-honoring prayers, and they therefore write out their prayers using the acrostic ACTS. This method of prayer begins with adoration (A) and then moves into confession (C). Thanksgiving (T) follows, and then finally we can lift up our needs in supplication (S). The primary advantage of this outline is that it helps keep us focused on the Lord and His kingdom.
In today’s passage the apostle Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Many people find it hard to maintain a consistent prayer life, and so they neglect this important means of grace in the Christian journey. We all find it difficult to pray at times. Today, write out a prayer using the ACTS model or pick a Psalm to follow. Whether or not you find it hard to pray, focus on the kingdom’s advance whenever you go before the Lord.
Passages for Further Study