1 Thessalonians – Week 8
1 Thessalonians 5:17 Intro
“Pray without ceasing.” It’s hard to read that and not feel like you’re falling down on the job.
Before we’re too hard on ourselves though, we need to look at the word Paul uses for “without ceasing.” It’s the Greek word adialeiptos, which Paul uses more to mean “often and repeatedly” than “non-stop.” The Lord is gracious and compassionate (Psalm 145); he’s not requiring that we pray every waking second of every day. What he’s inviting us into, through Paul’s exhortation here, is a frequent and consistent practice of coming to him in prayer.
So we should ask ourselves, “Why does Paul stress frequency here?” Why didn’t he just say to pray regularly, or fervently, or honestly? This urge towards a specific pace of prayer indicates a few things about the nature of prayer for believers, all of which are worth discussing further, such as prayer’s relational and transformative qualities. Prayer helps us relate to our Father as our Father, and prayer gives us the opportunity to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. (Romans 12:2)
This is a helpful time for your group members to reflect on their attitude towards prayer, not because we need to get our attitude in order but because our attitude reveals our deep-set beliefs. If you typically come to prayer unwilling or ungrateful, there’s more going on than your attitude. If we’re honest with ourselves, we often treat prayer like spiritual extra-credit because we don’t think it actually accomplishes anything, or because we think we’ll be fine without it. That attitude is produced by willful ignorance of our need for God’s grace.
Alternate Discussion: The Gospel and Race Event
• What stood out to you from the Conversation on the Gospel and Race?
• What do you find convicting from the Conversation?
• Let’s take a look at Philippians 2:1-11
• How does this passage describe Jesus’ disposition towards others?
• How does this passage relate to building relationships across racial and social lines?
• What are some practical steps you want to take following this event?
• Close in prayer for your group and our church, that we would lead in humility, love our neighbors well, and be strengthened by the Spirit.
1 Thess. 5:17 Discussion Questions
• Let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
• How does this context help us understand what it means to “pray without ceasing”?
• Why do you think Paul encouraged the Thessalonians this way?
• How could this command dictate the way you relate to God?
• What’s your typical attitude towards prayer? Why?
• What beliefs could consistent prayer reinforce in your life?