What does ‘pray continually’ really mean?
[August 15, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
a) Like a man in prison ever desires to be delivered, whether he be eating or drinking or sleeping, and like someone who is sick desires always to be whole, so every true Christian prays continually — yea, even when he seems not to pray. For prayer consists not in much babbling (Matthew 6:7), but in spirit and truth (John 4:23, 24) and in the vehement desire of the heart towards God.
—the New Matthew Bible’s note on 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
“Pray continually” is a verse in the Bible that has been misused to lay false guilt on many true Christians. How many genuine believers have felt that they are disobeying this instruction if they are not praying every waking moment?
The New Matthew Bible’s note breathes compassion and empathy for afflicted Christians. Let us take comfort that prayer consists not in much babbling, but in spirit and truth and in the vehement desire of the heart towards God.
I have shared previously that I find the notes in the New Matthew Bible spiritually uplifting and illuminating. The notes are comments by William Tyndale, John Rogers, Erasmus, Church Fathers, Martin Luther and other Reformers.
If you feel you have only a little strength, you can also take comfort from the fact that the church of Philadelphia had a little strength, and it was one of the two churches which was not admonished in the book of Revelation (Smyrna was the other).
For you have a little strength, and have kept my sayings, and have not denied my name.
— Rev 3:8b (Click here to read it in context.)
[August 15, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to August 15, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to August 15, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to August 15, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (August 15, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]