Prayer: Conversations with Our Gracious God

prayerNursing students, what thoughts are on your mind this week? As the school year ends, you may be experiencing anxiety about deadlines or stress about summer plans. Are you worried about tense relationships, or issues with family and friends? Pause a moment to assess what is flooding your mind.

God’s Word can help you to focus on our Lord, rather than on only your concerns. Consider this invitation from 1 Thessalonians 5:17: Pray without ceasing. Pray continually.

You may think, “I’m too busy to pray.” But let’s explore the meaning of praying continually, and how to have “everyday conversations” with the Lord.

Everyday Conversations

What do “everyday conversations” with a close friend look like? Topics can meander from daily activities to feelings, fears, and hopes. Trust and communication between friends increases the depth of the conversation and deepens friendships. Discussion is two-way: talking, asking questions, and listening. These dynamics can also be present in conversations with God. It’s amazing that Jesus calls us friends (John 15:15-16)!

What keeps us from “everyday conversation” with God? We may think that God is too busy for us or not interested in the everyday things we face. This perception can come from past relationships with others or not knowing very much about God.

I remember discussing prayer with two of my classmates in nursing school. One believed that God was only interested in the “big things” of life, while another talked about the example of her mother who had ongoing dialogue with God about everything in her life. Our NCF staff person wisely shared that we did not have to filter the content of our prayers; what was important was that we were communicating freely.

Pray Without Ceasing

tweet“Pray continually” means talking with our gracious God about everything. I recall interacting with a nursing student about her fears in the clinical leadership course she was taking. She felt threatened by the hospital staff and anxious about trying to organize her care for several patients. We prayed over the worksheet she had prepared and that she would reflect Jesus’ care to each patient. We asked Jesus to prompt someone to say something nice to her and that she’d have time to eat lunch. The next day we celebrated answers to prayer, a prayer conversation of thanksgiving as well as intercession.

Praying the Scriptures can help us “pray continually.” For starters, it’s helpful to look at the context of single verses such as 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to you in vs. 16-18 (from The Message): “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.”

Having a conversation with the Lord about what you read is a way to “pray continually.” Try some specific steps for 1 Thessalonians 16-18:

  • Ask God to speak to you, and help you to listen.
  • As you read the text, note a phrase that gets your attention.
  • Talk with the Lord about this phrase, including difficulties you may have with responding because of your situation. Ask God for help you to follow what he says. 
  • Read the verses again, several times. Listen, and discuss your thoughts with the Lord. 
  • Summarize a main point that the Lord is saying to you, and how you will respond. 
  • Continue to talk with the Lord later in the day about what he said in 1 Thess. 5:16-18, including thanksgiving and ongoing intercession.

Note:  These steps can help you “pray continually” as you interact with the Lord in any part of God’s Word.

Here are several passages to help you continue to focus on God and conversations of listening, discussing, and responding to the Lord as you face the things on your mind these days:

Enjoy your conversations with our gracious God. He knows all about caring for people—for you, and for other people in your life. God delights in you and in having conversations with you.

—by Mary Thompson, RN, MSN, FCN, former NCF National Director

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