A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

What does ‘pray continually’ really mean?

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 the only church which was not admonished in the book of Revelation.

For you have a little strength, and have kept my sayings, and have not denied my name.
Rev. 3:8a  (click here to read it in context)

***

Further reading

The Matthew Bible is the first complete English Bible, and Ruth M Davis is gently it updating for modern readers

19 Comments

  1. Finding Answers

    From the title of the post “What does ‘pray continually’ really mean?”

    The answer(s) to ^That question are as varied as the individuals who pray.

    For me, my life IS my prayer.

    For others, they might pray for Life.

    Perhaps an equally important question: What does prayer mean to (general) YOU?

    (And not: What have (general) you been told prayer SHOULD mean to (general) you.)

    • Finding Answers

      I am a high-functioning Asperger Christian woman who thinks in pictures.

      I was baptised and saved in the hospital at six months old.

      Since ^That time, I have been my own translator, using many kinds of communication to communicate with EVERYONE.

      For me, I am ALWAYS, 24 / 7, translating my communication(s) into something EVERYONE will understand.

      ^That means I have worked, 24 / 7, for almost my entire life.

      In my comment (17TH JULY 2020 – 9:43 AM), I wrote: “For me, my life IS my prayer.”

      There are some legalistic individuals who say (general) you MUST rest one day per week, although those same legalistic individuals disagree on which day of the week (general) we are “supposed” to rest.

      Perhaps the same legalistic individuals who say (general) you MUST rest one day per week are the same legalistic individuals who say how (general) you SHOULD pray.

      For me, I remain obedient to the Holy Spirit, obeying God, not man.

      I will continue to work, 24 / 7.

      For me, there is no such thing as a day of rest.

  2. Sister

    Another great post!

  3. momtomyson

    I have been reading and rereading on this site for quite a long time. I’ve never posted because typing is hard and time consuming and a little risky and besides, I’m not one of you. My background is very conservative Mennonite, and though I attend a more mainstream church now, I look very Mennonite. (long dress, my head covered, slow English because [language redacted] is my first language).

    The reason I read here is because it is geared to protective moms who don’t feel safe, with extremely controlling dads. Well, I don’t feel safe (I know I’m not brave though my therapist in town says she finds my reactions quite normal, for some reason) and often I fear for my son’s well being. Dad wants to have everything his way. He says he is only asking for what the Bible says is his right. Sometimes he punishes us for disobeying. I don’t think of what we do as disobedience; I think son and I are just doing what we can to cope, and hopefully, to survive.

    I have been saying for a long time that I would like a separate building on our property that would be just for a place for my husband and I to be apart and peaceful and able to just live. That has been extremely hard; the reason it has now happened is because my sister helped. Long and amazing story. Last Friday the small building came. Yesterday it was connected to our electricity. I am so grateful that my husband, once he got used to the idea, was so cooperative. He prepared the land, dealt with the contractors, and made sure everything gets done right.

    I have been amazed at my reaction… Every morning since Friday my son and I are down before breakfast, singing and dancing and playing. I haven’t sung for a very long time since most songs are objectionable, besides, usually Dad wants us quiet. Then we quietly go up to the house and get our breakfast. I try to keep son quiet and well behaved at the house, so that there is no trouble.

    My thoughts are somewhat troubled and I’m confused. The other night I could not sleep for my thoughts. Then suddenly it hit me; my husband is not just difficult and scary, he is abusive. I was sure of it.

    I work [job redacted] for a company that sends me into people’s homes to provide care. This place I’ve been at a lot, the son [name redacted] is always there and he is scary like my husband, but a little different. That night I kept thinking, [name redacted] is probably abusive. I know he’s scary and it’s not just me, because my coworkers also find him scary. If [name redacted] is abusive, then my husband is also abusive because they are alike. Everything was crystal clear and everything made sense, for a change.

    I couldn’t focus or get much of anything done the next day, and it no longer seemed crystal clear…I know that abuse is against the law in [state redacted], but neither [name redacted] nor my husband is in trouble with the law. A few times over the years I’ve called the police about my husband, and I’ve called Crises. Apparently it’s not against the law to rant at night and be scary; to hide son’s Ipad so that neither of us can find it, not even for school; to burn son’s good clothes, etc. To take my car keys. My cell phone. Maybe it’s a crime to have me in a room and not let me get out for [number redacted] hrs. I never could call until I was out, and once I was out, it seems trivial to call the police. He doesn’t usually hit us. Once, when I was working late at night and son was not cooperating for bed, my husband tried to silence son’s crying with a hand over his mouth and nose, so that he couldn’t breathe and thought he would die. CPS got involved that time and gave him a warning. I have been very, very scared, but it hasn’t seemed to have happened again, and the case was dropped at the end of a year.

    Anyhow, my question is, can men actually be abusive and not be in trouble with the law? Or is that a sign that I am over reacting? Can my husband still be abusive and I not leave? Leaving would be extremely hard if not impossible and if I would succeed, the law would get involved and son would have to go back some, probably alone with his dad, in spite of the fact that the two of them have to be watched when together. I have been able to get help for my son, and he has been diagnosed with ADHD and ASD level 1, sometimes dipping into Level 2. With medication and therapy son is doing well now. My son is very much like my husband, so I’m sure my husband could be diagnosed with that, too, maybe additional problems. My husband gets therapy now and is doing somewhat better. His therapist thinks he needs to see a psych— and be on meds, but he refuses. I have read and reread the article on here on autism and abuse and know that one does not lead to the other, but in my husband’s case, I definitely think his condition is a contributing factor. And, what about my own anxiety, abusive behavior, lack of submission, and evil speaking? Although in my defence, I say there is a difference between what I do when I don’t really have a viable choice, and what my husband freely does. A little like Pharoah commanding all baby boys to be thrown into the river, and then Jochebed put her baby in the river in a basket, with his older sister watching from shore. Maybe Jochabed was abusive, but did she really have a choice? I can so relate. I am encouraged that she was mentioned in Hebrews 11 as a woman of faith.

    I know this is long and not in the right place but maybe if I typed well, I will hear back from you all. I wrote at night, in my little building, with tears.

    [For the safety and protection of momtomyson, some information has been redacted. Editors.]

    • Reaching Out

      Hi momtomyson,

      Thank you for taking the time to write so clearly, especially when your main language is not English.

      For the safety and protection of you and your son, you will notice I redacted some details from your comment.

      It is truly sad that there are so very many women and children in situations similar to yours.

      I am sure Barb (the leader of the ACFJ blog) will have a reply for you sometime later, but since she resides in Australia, the time zone is very different than that of many of our readers and commenters.

    • Finding Answers

      Momtomyson,

      I read through your comment, and what you wrote touched my heart. And for someone in your circumstances, your comment is VERY clear and well-written. 🙂

      Truly, I am so sorry your circumstances are so awful, and I pray your circumstances change for the better SOON.

      Words are inadequate to express what I wish I could express more clearly, especially as I do not know what words or phrases might accidentally trigger you and add on ANOTHER source of abuse.

      Stay safe.

    • Dear momtomyson, thank you so much for your comment. I have not yet had time to compose a thoughtful reply to everything you wrote, but I want to let you know I will do so when I get time. My heart goes out to you. I feel honoured that you trusted this blog enough to write a comment here.

      Please know that I do not think you are ‘not one of us’. What clothes you wear, what church background you come from, what your mother tongue language is — all those things are just incidentals. You are clearly one of us in that you have suffered greatly and you are coming out from the fog / waking up to the reality of your situation. Please know that you are not alone. Hugs from Barb.

    • Hi momtomyson, you asked:

      “Can men actually be abusive and not be in trouble with the law?”

      Yes, they certainly can, and they often are. Many abusers (whatever their sex) do not do things that violate any criminal law. Many abusers deliberately refrain from criminal conduct, so that law enforcement officers cannot charge them with crimes. I have heard that wife abusers who come from the higher socio-economic group of the population tend to be the ones who refrain from criminal conduct. My guess is that the more educated, white-collar abusers are more canny about avoiding legal penalties for their evildoing.

      You are certainly not over reacting. You’ve described your husband’s behaviour and it is definitely abusive. Ranting at night and being scary; hiding your son’s Ipad; burning your son’s good clothes, taking your car keys and your cell phone. Constraining you in a room and not letting you get out for hours. You said “he does not usually hit us.” Even one hit is an assault. Even one hit is a crime. Threatening (verbally or with body-language) to hit is also a crime. Silencing your son’s crying by putting a hand over his mouth and nose, so that he couldn’t breathe and thought he would die — that is defintely a crime! It could be classed as attempted murder. I am disgusted that CPS only gave him a warning for that, and later dropped the case.

      Historically, CPS have a track record of not protecting children adequately, and letting abusers get away with abusing children. In fact, some (many?) protective mothers report that CPS is in league with the abusers and is helping the abusers get MORE access to children to abuse. I have heard credible accounts of that happening in many countries in the world.

      What is defined as ‘criminal’ varies in different states and different countries, as I’m sure you know. It sounds like your state does not define as criminal conduct all the varieties of coercive control which domestic abusers use. My state (Victoria, Australia) defines coercive control as a domestic abuse crime, but, to get the police to prosecute it successfully in the absence of physical assault is a whole other ball of wax! To learn more about coercive control, go here.

      You may have already dug into our What Is Abuse? page, but if not, I encourage you to do so.

      You may also find this post helpful: Ok, I’m being abused. So what do I do now?

      You asked “Can my husband still be abusive and I not leave?”

      The short answer is yes. Your husband can be abusive and you can choose not to leave him. It is totally up to you whether you choose to leave. You are the best judge of whether to leave or stay. Victims of abuse might choose to stay for any number of reasons. I have heard many instances where the victim chooses to stay for the reasons you outlined which apply to your own situation. If anyone judges or condemns you for choosing to stay, they don’t understand domestic abuse well enough.

      You also wrote:

      what about my own anxiety, abusive behavior, lack of submission, and evil speaking? Although in my defence, I say there is a difference between what I do when I don’t really have a viable choice, and what my husband freely does. A little like Pharoah commanding all baby boys to be thrown into the river, and then Jochebed put her baby in the river in a basket, with his older sister watching from shore. Maybe Jochabed was abusive, but did she really have a choice? I can so relate. I am encouraged that she was mentioned in Hebrews 11 as a woman of faith.

      I think you answered your own question there! Your conduct that you (or more likely your husband) labels as ‘abusive behaviour, lack of submission and evil speaking’ are very probably responses you are making to resist his abuse. I love the analogy you draw with Jochebed putting baby Moses in the river and getting her daughter to watch what then happened. I’ve never heard anyone make that application before, but I think it is spot on.

      Jochebed was definitely NOT abusive. She was outwardly complying with Pharaoh’s abusive directive, while quietly putting a plan in place which might help the baby thrive, and at the same time calling on God to rescue the baby. As a wise person said to me recently: in the normal pattern of God’s economy, God wants us to take the actions we can take to help ourselves, and He will take care of the rest — the things we cannot do because our hands are tied.

      I hope the set up with a different dwelling on the property for you and your son to live continues to work okay. I know one woman who did something similar and it has worked out pretty well for years. She lives on the same block of land as her ex: he is in one house, while she her daughter and her grandchild are in the other house.

  4. momtomyson

    Thank you, Reaching Out, Finding Answers, and Barbara Roberts. You are so kind. Very oddly, typing all that out the night before last actually helped me figure out how I feel sorta. And spending a bunch of time down here is wonderful. I can play with my son, help him with his memory verse, read a chapter from the Bible to him, really the list goes on and on, without being concerned about the noise or how this effects my husband or worrying about how to be submissive and kind in this situation.

    The house is kept pretty quiet for my husband all morning, and later, when we go up, he often is outside, and he is more calm than he was with us underfoot constantly. He does come down to my building every day, but pretty much stays at the door, to ask a question, make a suggestion, etc. I’m watching and trying to figure out if he will respect this space enough for us to feel comfortable doing our thing here. Again, many thanks for being kind and welcoming.

    [One paragraph break added to enhance reading of the comment. Editors.]

    • momtomyson

      Well, I posted my last comment before I saw Barbara Robert’s latest reply. Just to be clear, it’s not just my husband who has said that I’m abusive; plenty of other people have been sure of it, too, to the point that I feared CPS would take my son, which is one thing that prompted me to try and make sure my son has a network of adults other than me to depend on.

      I have really wanted to get him into public school this year so that he’d have a range of people other than me; to that end I took him to a psychologist to get diagnosed. Well, she examined my son and diagnosed him, said she’ll fill out paperwork and send it to [name of agency redacted] for me; but then she had a family emergency, and then Covid 19 happened, and everything shut down. It looks like I’ll be homeschooling my son another year. Which is maybe just as well, since he is quite advanced in [a certain] subject and so very behind in [another subject], only just this summer now being willing and able to sit and practice diligently.

      I find it very encouraging that somewhere in this world is another woman apparently who has lived separately but on the same block of land as her husband for years and it’s been working well enough. It’s proving to be a bit of a challenge for me to figure out how to make this small space work for everything… but it’s a good challenge.

      • Hi momtomyson, for your safety, I redacted a few details from your comment. I hope I have done that okay. You may like to check out our Info For New Users as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting at this blog.

        I am so sorry to hear that many people have said you’re abusive. From everything you’ve said, I have the sense that you are a protective mother doing your very best to protect your son.

      • Finding Answers

        Momtomyson,

        It might (?) help you if I write I am a high-functioning Asperger (Christian) woman who thinks in pictures (although MOST folks are unlikely recognize I am Asperger’s unless I tell them).

        For readers who might be unaware, many North Americans (for any number of reasons) consider Asperger’s to be on the Autism spectrum.

        For me, I continue to use the Asperger’s label to prevent SOME folks from making (false?) assumptions about me.

        This morning, I thought of a quote I posted to the ACFJ blog quite some time ago.

        After opening my copy of the book and re-reading the quote, I was led by the Holy Spirit to your comment of 25TH JULY 2020 – 4:23 AM.

        After re-reading your comment, I realized that in citing only PART of the quote from the book in my some-time-ago comment, I unintentionally omitted some details that REALLY spoke me.

        From your comment: “….It looks like I’ll be homeschooling my son another year. Which is maybe just as well, since he is quite advanced in [a certain] subject and so very behind in [another subject], only just this summer now being willing and able to sit and practice diligently.”

        ^That part of your comment got me wondering if (perhaps?) other folks have (sometimes unintentionally?) done to your son what some folks have (sometimes unintentionally?) done to me.

        I wonder if citing the ENTIRE quote might (?) help with some kind of insights?

        Autists are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It’s that you are destroying the peg. What if normal school makes you abnormally miserable? And what if growing up into normal society makes you a miserable adult? Is that success? Is that normal? Do you want to be in the mainstream if it’s going to drown you?

        Collins, Paul. Not Even Wrong: A Father’s Journey into the Lost History of Autism (p. 225). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

      • Finding Answers, thanks for that quote about Autists. As I read it the second time, it struck me as applicable for people of high IQ too. I’m going to rephrase the quote to show you what I mean:

        People who have extremely high IQ are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It’s that you are destroying the peg. What if normal school makes you abnormally miserable? And what if growing up into normal society makes you a miserable adult? Is that success? Is that normal? Do you want to be in the mainstream if it’s going to drown you?

        I can take that one further, using some of the ideas that James has shared on this blog:

        People who have been egregiously abused are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It’s that you are destroying the peg. “Normal society” says that extreme abuse is non-existent or very rare. That makes the victims of extreme abuse abnormally miserable. The assumptions and paradigms of what passes as “normal society” makes such people miserable because their experiences are discounted, ignored, dismissed. Is that success? Is that normal?

        As blog-commenter Sister said to me recently, it’s like the soldiers who came back from war. They had suffered unbelievably at the front. When they came back to ‘normal’ life they felt like square pegs in round holes. They usually chose not to talk about their horrific experiences because the people in ‘normal’ society could not handle it. Victims of domestic abuse and other kinds of abuse are like returned soldiers. They can’t talk about their experiences because they don’t fit in any more. They are eternally “on the outer”.

        But they are not “on the outer” with Jesus. Jesus understands, because He experienced extreme abuse.

      • I said “Victims of domestic abuse and other kinds of abuse are like returned soldiers.” I want to add that genuine supporters of victims of abuse can also feel like returned soldiers. Like the survivors of abuse, the genuine supporters often find they can’t talk to people in “normal society” about the abuses they have heard about.

  5. momtomyson

    For sure my son is like a square peg people have tried to pound into round holes. Fortunately there are a few people that “get him” well enough that they can manage if I have to have a babysitter. And, it gets easier as my son gets older. For one thing, it’s becomes more obvious that my son is perhaps almost, but not quite, normal. For another thing, his daily behavior is far less extreme, more acceptable, than when he was younger.

    When he was a toddler, it sort of amused me (though it also puzzled me and made me feel a little sad) when other mothers with children close in age to my son, would remark that he already knew his numbers so well, and his shapes, and letters, and so many big words… and what did you do to teach him? I had NO wonderful tips to give. These same mothers couldn’t help but notice that my son still wasn’t learning to sit attentively in church, or to eat what was set before him, or to behave, for that matter, and I could see that they were wondering why I don’t just make him. As if that’s even possible.

    On a different note, a website linked to a link that Barbara gave me in a previous comment, had a couple wheels that I find very helpful to review every day. That same website said to keep a diary of puzzling and/or alarming things that keep happening. I have been surprised that there’s been something every day. I don’t think I’m being unreasonably picky, just observant.

    • Hi momtomyson, could you please share the link to the website which had the wheels and the suggestion about keeping a diary of puzzling and / or alarming things that keep happening. That site may be something we would like to add to our list of Resources.

      Thanks for your comment. It encouraged me.

  6. momtomyson

    Barbara, your link was “Ok so, I’m being abused. What do I do now?” That whole page is good to read.

    On that page is a link to Family violence and domestic abuse: information, advice, and resources. This is the page with the wheels and advice. You kinda have to read it carefully to understand what exactly the writer is trying to say, for example, on the power wheel, it mentions the use of intimidation which I didn’t quite understand. Even after I googled the definition. Then I googled “pictures of intimidation” which brought me lots of pictures, then I understood.

    Also, that page simply says to keep a diary, which I kept a diary when I was young, and I was taught to be nice, not write anything that might embarrass someone, or that wasn’t pleasant but perhaps the other person didn’t mean the way I took it, but reading further, it was obvious that the purpose of this diary is to help me see patterns of behavior and general random things that seem to happen for no reason.

    At first I felt bad for writing such things, so I told myself I will always be careful to write only what is probably already written in the book in heaven, and that made me feel better. Now I find that after I write it down I can more easily let it go to the back of my mind, rather than being preoccupied with what just happened. This makes it easier to attend to my son’s needs, and the many other things that need attending.

    [Eds have added the links to this comment]

    • Thanks momtomyson, I found the links and added them to your comment.

      For other readers who are wondering about the wheels, they are the Power and Control Wheel, and the Equality Wheel. Those two wheels were developed years ago, in the very early days of women’s shelters.

      The wheels and the suggestion about keeping a diary are at this link: Family violence and domestic abuse: information, advice, and resources.

      In the early 1980s, Duluth — a small community in northern Minnesota — developed a cutting edge model for dealing with domestic violence. One thing they did was develop the wheels. Over several months, they convened focus groups of women who had been battered. They listened to heart-wrenching stories of violence, terror, and survival. After listening to these stories and asking questions, they documented the most common abusive behaviors or tactics that were used against these women. The tactics chosen for the Power and Control Wheel were those that were most universally experienced by battered women. They then created an Equality Wheel to show the opposite: the characteristics of a good relationship. They have since created other wheels.

      You can read about the Duluth model and see the wheels at http://www.theduluthmodel.org

      Alternatively you can do an internet search for images of the Duluth Wheels.

    • Momtomyson, I love this thing you said about writing your diary —

      “At first I felt bad for writing such things, so I told myself I will always be careful to write only what is probably already written in the book in heaven, and that made me feel better.”

      Your words made me smile deep inside. Such wisdom! The patterns of behaviour and general random things that seem to happen for no reason…those things have indeed been already written in the book in heaven. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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