Week 4: I Thessalonians

  • Day 1: I Thessalonians 1
  • Day 2: I Thessalonians 2:1-16
  • Day 3: I Thessalonians 2:17-3:5
  • Day 4: I Thessalonians 3:6-13
  • Day 5: I Thessalonians 4:1-12
  • Day 6: I Thessalonians 4:13-5:11
  • Day 7: I Thessalonians 5:12-28

Almighty God, by our own baptism into death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ, you turn us from the old life of sin. Grant that we who are reborn to new life in him may live in righteousness and holiness all our days, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

(ELW 86)

The focus of this letter is the concern that the believers in Thessalonica have with the dead. Paul assures them of the resurrection. With everything going on in our world it would be easy to talk about death this week. However, as I was reading through this letter I got stuck on “pray without ceasing (5:17).” What does it mean to pray without ceasing?  

I grew up in a tradition where prayer was a really bid deal, because it was often accompanied by someone speaking in tongues. Demons were real and we needed God to protect us from them. Every word of your prayer had to be the right word, because if you used the wrong word God wouldn’t hear you.

Because of the environment that I grew up in I don’t like having to lead public prayer and I don’t like writing prayers to be used  during worship. For me, the idea of praying without ceasing is daunting. And I know I’m not alone in this.

I believe, as I think many of us at Grace do, that God hears our prayers even if we don’t have all the perfect words, feelings and concerns aren’t always easy to get into words. God hears our prayers and loves us no matter what.

When I think of prayer without ceasing I often think of monks and nuns kneeling on cold, hard floors for hours in prayer. And this is certainly a holy calling. However, it’s not something that we are all called to. For me praying without ceasing means living with an awareness of the Holy Spirit being ever present, trusting that no matter how sloppy and unpoetic my prayers are God is listening, and for me trusting that sometimes (ok, many times) an eye roll toward the heavens says it all.

As we travel through the moments of this upcoming week may we ponder what it means to pray without ceasing. And may you find God in all your eye rolls. Amen.

1. What does praying without ceasing mean to you?

2. Think about how willing or unwilling you are to lead prayer in public? If you don’t fear it, why? If you are more hesitant, why?

3. Take time this week to write a prayer. And if all you can come up with is an eye roll, that’s ok.

4. Reflect on how the practice of daily reading and prayer have been going for you. What works for you? What doesn’t?

My faith looks up to thee,

thou Lamb of Calvary,

Savior divine:

now hear me while I pray,

take all my guilt away,

O let me from this day

be wholly thine.