7 Habits That Promote Soul Rest: Perpetual Prayer

each whispered wordof petitionor thanksgivingconnects us tothe Giver of soul rest1

This post is part 4 in my series on 7 Habits that Promote Soul Rest. Click to read Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3.

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

The first time I read Paul’s command in 1 Thessalonians I was incredulous.

I mean, how could you possible pray all the time? Life demands things like paying attention in a class or writing a detailed report for work. If you have little ones running around you need to make sure that they don’t empty the garbage can all over the floor or feed the dog chocolate. How can you be on your knees and still do the everyday stuff of life?

Paul’s words not only inspired skepticism. It also produced…guilt. Just reading the command made me all too aware of my mediocre prayer life–often lacking in frequency and length. (Which is another way of saying, I’m lucky if I get in five minutes of concentrated prayer daily.)

But I know prayer brings rest for my soul and peace for my spirit. In another one of Paul’s letters he wrote:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

So how can we learn to pray without ceasing and find soul rest?

I realized that when Paul wrote that command in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 he didn’t mean I had to stay on my knees with my eyes closed and my hands folded all day. Praying without ceasing becomes possible when I pray short prayers throughout the day. 

Here are three ways I use short prayers to connect with God:

7 HABITS #3Turn every worry into a prayer. One day I decided to take these words of Paul literally. I realized that when I’m worried about something, I don’t think about it once in the morning and once again at night. It is on my mind constantly. The concern pops into my brain while I’m driving my car or having a conversation with a friend. So what if I turned every one of my worrisome thoughts into a prayer? 

I would be praying without ceasing.

Pray short prayers of thanks. My worries became the catalyst for my first experience with short prayers. But soon I began to add short prayers of thanksgiving to my repertoire of short prayers. When I saw a beautiful sunset, tasted an exquisite strawberry, or heard the sweet song of a bird, I whispered a quick prayer of gratitude to my awesome Creator. When I found my lost keys or got a string of green lights on my way to an appointment, I said, “Thank You, God.”

Use Scripture prayers. Recently I’ve begun another way to use short prayers throughout the day. I choose a short prayer from Scripture that I whisper back to God whenever the Holy Spirit prompts me. The first prayer I used like this is called the Jesus prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.” At first, I felt uncomfortable with this prayer. I didn’t like reminding myself that I am a sinner, but every time I spoke this petition, I felt peace. I knew God answered my prayer with His grace. I felt soul rest because that prayer reminded me how much I need my Father and how little my own efforts mattered in the grand scheme of eternity.

Here are a few more short prayers from Scripture that you can use:

Not my will, but Yours be done. Luke 22:42

Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on You. 2 Chronicles 14:11

Show the wonder of Your great love. Psalm 17:7

We find soul rest in perpetual prayer because each whispered word of petition or thanksgiving connects us to Jesus–the Giver of rest, peace, and soul stillness.

Each whispered word of petition or thanksgiving connects us to Jesus--the Giver of soul stillness. Click To Tweet

Next step: Choose a short Scripture to pray throughout the day. Click to get a free resource of 15 more short Scripture prayers. Write the prayer on a card to carry with you. As you pray this prayer in small moments of your busy day, it will become a habit. And this habit will draw you closer to God–the Provider of soul rest.