A few years ago Linda and I spend several hours together listening to "Serial," a radio series that went viral. At the beginning of each show, and periodically throughout, the theme music played. It was this little, simple, piano piece that became associated with the story of a high school girl who was murdered. For days afterward I could not get this music out of my mind! It was unconsciously repeating, looping through my neural self, sometimes unceasingly.
Conscious repetition leads to unceasing consciousness. I believe Paul's "unceasing praying" can be understood like this. The conscious dedication to intentional praying shapes us, by the Spirit, into constant pray-ers.
The worship song that was repeated on Sunday morning sings in my heart when I wake on Monday. The praying I do day by day, week by week, and year by year has gouged a deep river in my heart that flows today. From much praying comes praying without ceasing.
Apply this to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
- "Rejoice always" (which emerges out of an intentional worshiping life)
- "Pray without ceasing" (which happens as a result of choosing to pray consistently)
- "Give thanks in all circumstances" (which happens as a result of a consistent choosing to be thankful)
- "For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (This is God's "inclination" or "desire" (Greek thelema) for you; which is to say this is God's very heart, produced in you and I.)
- This rejoicing-praying-thanksgiving begins to loop through your being, without ceasing.