Vol. 6, No. 8
~ Page 15 ~
With all my learning (?) at age 20, in a Bible class in Urbana, Illinois, in 1931, when sister Bert Gerrard asked the meaning of "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17), I said that the passage does not command that we pray all of the time, but that we must always be in the attitude of prayer. She replied, "In the baseball game at the church fellowship in the park, when you slid into second base, you were not in a prayerful attitude." The lady had me. I needed to do more study on prayer.
Paul's inspired word adialeiptos, translated "without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17, KJV), occurs in three other New Testament passages: "God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers" (Romans 1:9, KJV). "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father" (1 Thessalonians 1:3, KJV). "For this cause also we thank God without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 2:13, KJV).
The word adialeiptos is threefold: (1) the first a is called an "alpha privative" (Classic Greek Dictionary 11), meaning the rest of the word is not true; (2) dia in context means "to"; (3) leiptos means "desert, abandon, forsake, leave behind" (409). Hence 1 Thessalonians 5:7 means that prayer is not to be deserted, abandoned, forsaken, left behind, but is to be a permanent part of a Christian's life, never to be deserted, abandoned, forsaken, left behind.
This practical meaning of "Pray without ceasing" is illustrated in David's words: "Evening and morning and noon I will complain and moan, and he will hear my voice" (Psalm 55:17). Similarly it is true that prayer was a permanent part of Daniel's life, praying without ceasing, as we read that the windows of his room in Babylon were open "toward Jerusalem" and that "he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God" (Daniel 6:10).