Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.    1Thesselonians 5:16-18

Until recently, to “pray without ceasing” has seemed an impossible task. Though I am not there yet, God has given me a practice in prayer that is moving me closer to that wonderful state of being that Brother Lawrence called “Practicing the Presence of God”. Here is how it works for me.

As I am sure it is with you, much of my time in prayer has been spent fighting off the interrupting and distracting thoughts. Most of these come from my flesh, the world and the devil. However, I am convinced that some are from God and from my good heart. So, how do I know which ones deserve my attention and which ones don’t?

In the past, I have presumed that anything that doesn’t sound like God must be pushed out of my mind. There are two problems here. First, this line of thinking exposes a naiveté (or arrogance) that I can always tell them apart. Worse, and more likely still, what are the chances that I am only considering the ones I am interested in? Who’s in charge here, anyway?

Second, the battle to push out what I perceive to be the wrong thoughts is regularly the biggest distraction of all. One thought is forced out to be replaced by three others. Before long, I’m only thinking about what I’m thinking about.

Been there? Frustrated? You bet!

But there is a better way.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.     2Corinthians 10:4-6

God has shown me that the only way to deal with this challenge is to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”. Yes, it really is that simple.

Whatever thought comes into my mind, I grab it, hold it up to my King, and ask Him what He wants me to do with it. If He says throw it away, then I do so in His authority. More often than I expected, He has something to say about it (e.g., a correction or insight into a stronghold). Many times, it becomes a point of prayer – like a meeting that I have that day.

The point here is that I submit to His authority over all my prayer life – even those parts that I thought He didn’t care about. One thing I have noticed: The thoughts that come from my enemies have reduced significantly. I believe it is because what satan intended for evil, God has turned to good – and satan wants no part of that.

And I have discovered an incredible, unexpected benefit of this new discipline: It has increased my ability to pray without ceasing – practicing His presence – throughout the day. The Holy Spirit’s training during my quiet time has prepared me for the more distracting interruptions that inevitably come during the more active times of my day.

Now, when a thought comes, I more naturally capture it for my King’s review. The practice has put more in charge of my day, our relationship is growing, I more regularly respond/react “in Christ”, and, most importantly, I get to enjoy His presence more.

Your Servant and His,