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“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

In this passage, we are commanded to ‘pray continually’. But what does this mean? To me, this means that prayer must be constant, an integral part of how we spend our time. God should be the first person we want to talk to in any circumstance – whether joyful or sad.

But I don’t think we can jump from nothing to this. To reach the stage of pray continually takes practice, it takes reminders, it takes getting it wrong and trying again. So, what actions can we take now to work towards praying continually?

Maintain regular times of prayer

When working to pray continually, it can be easy to see regular, disciplined times of prayer as working against this idea. But regular prayer, it whatever form you choose, is so important – it keeps us accountable to regular prayer, it keeps us disciplined, it helps us to really focus and dedicate time purely to God.

Make use of travel time

Travel time is a time that is often wasted, but we can utilise this time in much better ways. Whether you travel by car, bike, bus or walk, commit yourself to spend this time with God. You could listen to worship music, or a podcast, or you could spend this time talking to and listening to God. SAFETY WARNING: do this safely – don’t use headphones whilst cycling or driving, don’t close your eyes, focus on the road/where you’re going.

Learn more about God

An important way for us to learn to pray continually, is to learn to rely upon God. The more we know about God, his power, strength and goodness; the more we will rely upon him. The more we can rely on God, the more we will turn to him in good times and bad. The best way to do this is to study the Bible! It is full of stories of God’s strength and power for us to learn from.

Take the tools with you

What helps you to connect with God throughout the day? Do you like writing things down? Listening to music? Reading pre-written prayers? Now think about how you could make sure you have these things with you throughout the day. Could you carry a small notebook to jot down your prayers? Could you keep a few pre-written prayers in your bag? Could you keep a holding cross in your pocket?

Use your phone

Building on this, using your phone can be a wonderful way to help you pray wherever you are. There are loads of apps to help you – I use the YouVersion Bible App for reading the Bible and devotional plans. There are some great apps to lead you through prayers or a service of Morning Prayer. Could you use the notes section to jot down prayers; or pray over the news that day? You can also find inspiration in all kinds of places, from your favourite blogs to Instagram to Pinterest.

Don’t be too fancy

Sometimes, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that longer, more elaborate prayers must somehow be better. But this is entirely false. We can talk to God however we choose – he’s still listening. We don’t get extra points for using fancy words. Just talk to God how you would talk to a friend, or a parent. This will also help you feel more relaxed about praying throughout the day without making a big deal of it.

Memorise scripture

Memorising scripture is something that I haven’t done much of before, however I really want to start! I’d love to be better at being able to draw on the words of the Bible without having to find them first. Plus, the better we know the Bible, the more it’s going to stay in the forefront of our minds and the more we will turn to it and live out it’s guidance. It’s also a great source of encouragement (check out my blog all about bible verses that encourage our prayer lives). To do this, I would recommend choosing a verse or two to begin with and writing it down a few times a day, maybe have it stuck up somewhere in your house, or as the lock screen of your phone.

Thank God when prayers are answered

Praying continually will usually lead to us praying over much smaller situations than we may have done previously, maybe that the traffic light will stay green or that we’ll find a parking space. But this can also cause us to forget to thank God when these prayers are answered. We need to intentionally make the effort to recognise when our prayers are answered and thank God each time.

I hope these ideas help you and make sure you leave a comment if you know other ways we can begin to pray continually!

Prayer

Dear God, thank you for the gift of prayer, that we are able to talk to you and hear from you. Thank you that you want to hear from us. Help us to pray continually, turning to you in every situation. Show us how we can do this better. Amen.

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