pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17
To pray without ceasing is not to be engaged in the duty of prayer at all times so that other duties are swallowed up in its place. It is to be in prayer regularly at set times and seasons (Gen. 8:22), and to observe a constant course of prayer at fixed and appointed ties. To pray without ceasing is also to pray with importunity and emotion (Acts 12:5). The church was very earnest and preserving in praying for Peter. To pray without ceasing is also to take every opportunity through the day to send up a holy meditation. We may do this when we hear or read the Word, or in whatever duty we are engaged, even in our earthly employments. If our heart and affections are heavenly, they will force out a prayer through the crowd and tumult of worldly business. There is a holy mystery in directing our earthly employments through heavenly arrows of prayer. A Christian can be withdrawn and private, in the midst of a multitude. He can turn his shop or field into a closet, and he can trade for earth, and yet get heaven also in the bargain. Praying without ceasing is keeping our hearts in such a praying frame that we are always ready to pray. This is probably the most genuine and natural sense of the words of the Apostle here: to have the habit of always freely and sweetly breathing out our requests unto God. It is to take all occasions to prostrate ourselves before the throne of grave. To do this we must certainly do two things: (1.) Be not too much in the business and pleasures of this life: the world with its affections must not be allowed to stifle and extinguish the holy flames ascending to heaven. (2.) If we would maintain a praying temper, be careful not to fall into the commission of any known and presumptuous sin. The guilt of sin lying upon the conscience will exceedingly deaden a heart for prayer.
In this classic devotional, John Calvin urges readers to apply the Christian life in a balanced way to mind, heart, and hand. Rather than focusing on contemplative otherworldliness, the book stresses the importance of a devotedly active Christian life. In style and spirit, this book is much like Augustine’s Confessions, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, or Thomas à Kempis’s Imitation of Christ. However, its intense practicality sets it apart, making it easily accessible for any reader seeking to carry out Christian values in everyday life. Chapter themes include obedience, self-denial, the significance of the cross, and how we should live our lives today.