Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Command to Pray Without Ceasing, Mosiah 26:39


Here are some of the conditions in the church under Alma the Elder once the church was set in order:
And they did admonish their brethren; and they were also admonished, every one by the word of God, according to his sins, or to the sins which he had committed, being commanded of God to pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all things. (Mosiah 26:39, emphasis added)
It seems the church was commanded by God to pray without ceasing.  I see no reason why this commandment would be invalid today.

I think as members of the church we are inclined to dismiss not only the command to pray unceasingly, but we tend to dismiss examples of people who prayed unceasingly.  For instance, whenever the story of Enos comes up, how many of us have heard teachers say, “Now, do we have to pray as long as Enos did?  No…” which pretty much invalidates the lesson of Enos’ example and essentially does what Satan does—teaching men to not pray.

There are more scriptures that teach about praying always.

Jesus taught about praying always: “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1) “And [Jesus] commanded them that they should not cease to pray in their hearts.” (3 Nephi 20:1)

The apostles recognized the importance of praying always: “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:4)

When Paul talks about the armor of God, right afterward he mentions prayer: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18)

Nephi wrote about how important it was to pray always and especially before doing anything for the Lord: “But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.” (2 Nephi 32:9)

Praying always is integral to resisting temptation. 
Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work. (D&C 10:5)
We’ll never know how safe we can really be if we don’t try it.  Constant prayer will shield us from temptation by making a way for us to escape carnal desires that beset us, helping us feel like sin is incompatible with our identity.  With this understanding we can see why Jesus would castigate the Pharisees about how their prayers didn’t match their actions:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. (Matt. 23:14)
Jesus was so disgusted because prayer would have helped the Pharisees resist the temptation to be selfish and greedy, but they sinned anyway.  Praying a lot wasn’t the problem.  It was sinning anyway that was the problem, sinning in spite of prayer.

Constant prayer can bring riches of the Spirit that are greater than any material things we could ever own.
Pray always, and I will pour out my Spirit upon you, and great shall be your blessing—yea, even more than if you should obtain treasures of earth and corruptibleness to the extent thereof. (D&C 19:38)
I suspect that we have no idea what the height and breadth and depth of the spiritual blessings that the Lord can pour out on us, how quickly our pale outlook on life might turn golden and sparkling, how our deep soul-hunger might fill to fatness and satisfaction, how our uncertainties might turn into rock-hard stability and trust even when from the outside it might look like we’d fall apart any minute.

We are promised that if we pray always the Lord will pour out his Spirit upon us (rather than dribbling or dripping it).

Elder Perry was asked in an interview with New Era staff members in the January2004 issue how we can pray always. He said:
Carry a prayer in your heart. You don’t have to express it out loud all the time, but there are very few hours in the day when you don’t need guidance and direction in the course that you would want to follow. It is a wonderful, satisfying thing to know that the Lord is there. And He is there “24/7,” as they say. He is always available to us.
I really like that thought that there are very few hours in the day that we don’t need help from God.  I suppose then it is a matter of thinking about each thing we do in terms of how we might need the Lord’s help with it, then exerting our faith that it is worth praying about, then asking and thanking.

Have you tried praying always?  If so, what experiences have you had with it?