Praying Always: A Pentecostal Perspective

The Bible tells us to ‘pray without ceasing’ (1 Thess. 5:17), ‘praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit’ (Eph. 6:18). Jesus Himself taught ‘that men always ought to pray and not lose heart’ (Lk 18:1). Perhaps, though, we are tempted to skip over the words ‘without ceasing’ and ‘always.’ Surely that’s just impossible anyway, we might think. And yet, it is the plain teaching of God’s Word. Those who trust in Christ are called to ‘pray without ceasing.’

The early Pentecostals saw the importance of this. Ps Arthur Lewis compared prayer to breathing in an article in the Riches of Grace in 1936. ‘Our breathing is normal under ordinary conditions,’ he wrote, ‘but when extra bodily effort is demanded, it deepens, becomes abnormal.’ Ps Lewis used this difference between all-the-time normal breathing and specifically needed abnormal breathing to explain the difference between two types of prayer (which he called prayer and supplication).

‘Prayer is our normal breathing … but Supplication is our abnormal breathing,’ he wrote. This prayer that he compared to normal breathing is prayer, which like normal breathing, should be going on all the time. ‘Pray always (or else we cannot live).’ The supplication, which is like the abnormal breathing when extra bodily effort is needed, is the prayer needed at specific times and on specific occasions, whether set daily prayer at home alone, or a prayer meeting together with the church. Supplication is necessary and very important, but, Ps Lewis says, it depends on the normal breathing of constant prayer. ‘Our ordinary prayer, if real, opens the way for our supplication to be effectual, and with thanksgiving.’ Our ‘natural prayer’ during the day ‘will prepare our “lungs” to make the special effort’ of supplication.

The possibility of prayer without ceasing – of praying like breathing – depends entirely upon ‘the glorious consummation of Calvary.’ It is only as we look to Christ crucified for us that we can know ‘a restfulness’ which enables a vital life of prayer. Such restfulness in Christ ‘enables us to bear the burden of need, however great it may be, before His Throne with thankfulness.’

As we grow in a life of prayer without ceasing, we will grow in the confidence that the Father hears our prayer, not only by the visible answers to prayer He gives, but also ‘as evidenced by that quiet assurance in our hearts’ which He provides by the Holy Spirit.

So, as we grow into a life of prayer without ceasing, we are growing in a life of conscious fellowship with the Holy Trinity: with the Father, to whom we prayer and who hears us; with the Son, in whose name we pray, and in whose merit we trust; and with the Holy Spirit, by whom we pray, who lifts our prayers to heaven, and who brings the assurance of heaven to our hearts.