Pray Without Ceasing

In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, the apostle gives the members of the church instruction concerning their lives as children of the light. One particular command is “Pray without ceasing.”

What does this mean? How can we do this?  The Bible also commands, “6 days shalt thou labor and do all thy work…” How can we work or play and still continually pray?

Did you pray while you drove to school this morning? It says “without ceasing.”  That’s what it means right? Not ceasing, not stopping.  Why must we pray without ceasing?   Prayer is the chief part of all thankfulness. It is conversation with God. Talking to Him.

When we pray, we often ask God for guidance dealing with family problems, accidents, trials, and temptations. We ask Him for this and that, but is that the only time we pray to Him? When we need something? If this is the case all we are doing is making Him our servant.

Praying without ceasing does not mean that we always have to have our heads bowed and hands folded. Instead it means we must live consciously in the knowledge that God is with us and is always watching over us in everything that happens in our lives. We can pray to God whenever we are driving, sitting in a class, or at any other point in the day.

Another way that we pray to our Father is through the Psalms and hymns that we sing. When we sing of or listen to praises of His majesty we are praying to Him. Praising Him in song is praying to Him. If we are listening to the music of this world we are in no way praising Him or giving any glory to Him.

When we are with our family or friends it can be considered “awkward silence” when we are not having conversation with them. Is this the way it is with our God too? He is continually with us, our Father in Heaven, our Elder Brother, who is closer to us than our families. We should never have “awkward silence” with Him. We should always be talking to Him. We should constantly talk to Him whether we consider things to be going well or whether we consider them to be going bad.

Psalter number 203 reminds us that our conversation and communion with God is sweet when we seek His face, and also that living apart from Him is death. We are strengthened in our walk when we continually have conversation with God by praying without ceasing.

Kelly Lubbers and Collin Van Overloop

Make a Joyful Noise unto the Lord

“All men on earth that live,

To God all glory give,

Praise ye the Lord;

His lovingkindness bless.

His constant faithfulness

And changeless truth confess;

Praise ye the Lord.

Here are the lyrics from Psalter #316, the shortest song in the Psalter. It makes sense that this is the shortest song in the Psalter since it’s taken from Psalm 117, which we all know is the shortest chapter in the bible. We used this Psalter number for a period of time as a doxology at our church here in Wingham, and it was very wonderful to be able to sing these words together as a congregation. Singing is enjoyable. People all around the world use singing as entertainment and it plays a significant part of our lives. We Christians have been given singing as a gift. Not just any gift, but a special gift from the Lord. Tomorrow is Sunday, and once again we will find ourselves in the house of the Lord using our gift of song to sing praises to him.

Singing shows and expresses the joy in our hearts. Hearts that sing are joyful! Singing also spreads joy. Think back to a time where you spent an evening singing to those in hospitals or retirement homes. Those times were times well spent. Although perhaps somewhat awkward to a group of teenagers at the time, I’m sure we all underestimate the amount of joy that the audience received. The blend of the holy words and the beautiful melodies is sure to arouse and spread joy! Joyful hearts sing. Singing gives birth to joy, and joy gives birth to singing.

“Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms” (Js. 5:13).

Singing is a good thing! David speaks about singing several times in the Psalms, and he repeatedly expresses that he will sing praises to his Lord. We do well to follow in David’s footsteps and dedicated times in our lives to lift up our voices towards heaven. “Sing aloud unto God our strength.” “I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee.” These familiar passages should always be a reminder to us of the importance of act of worship.

“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto they name, O most High…” (Ps. 92:1).

Why did Paul and Silas sing? They sang for strength while they were afflicted. Perhaps a time will come when we are afflicted. Will we remember the songs we sang from our youth every Sunday during worship? Singing is not filler during a worship service. It is not something used to break up the time of sitting in silence. God commands us to sing, and we must use this precious gift of congregation singing and hold it dear to our hearts. We don’t use singing as a mean to impress God. We also don’t use singing as a way to express our emotions and feelings. The wonderful songs that we sing every Sunday are sure to be a comfort to our souls, but more importantly, they should be sang wholeheartedly as giving glory to God. How beautiful it must be to God’s “ears” to hear his chosen people join together in song, singing of his glory. When we raise our voices together as a congregation on Sunday morning, we’re joining our voices with Christians all over the world. It’s not just our voices echoing around the walls of our sanctuary, but voices echoing across the world making a joyful noise to our Lord and King.

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord; all the earth; make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise” (Ps. 98:4).

Singing has a special way of bringing the heart, soul, mind, and congregation together. May we all be blessed tomorrow with the preaching of thy word, and thy wonderful gift of song. Singing matters, and it matters that we do it together.

Averly Kikkert

Singing

Singing is a very important part of our lives as Christians. We have done it almost everyday of our lives in school, whether as part of devotions or as part of a choir. We sing in the worship services at church and at singspirations as well as casual hymn sings with family and friends. Music is one of the chief ways in which we glorify God for all that He has done for us. I have enjoyed singing for many years. However, we should be aware that not all spiritual songs are edifying. Some are blatantly Arminian such as the following first verse and chorus of the song “You Must Open the door”: There’s a savior standing at the door of your heart/ He’s waiting to enter/ Why let Him depart/He’s patiently called you so often before, but you must open the door. Chorus: ” He wants to come in and save you from sin, but you must open the door”. The implication of this song is that we must accept Christ into our hearts in order to be saved. This however, runs contrary to Ephesians 2:8,9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest anyone should boast.” This is also the reason why we should be careful when we hear the Christmas carol “Joy to the world” and it comes to the line “let every heart prepare him room”. We are sinners, who apart from the grace of God, have no desire to have Christ at the heart and center of our lives. Others have a word or two that we don’t agree with, but we can still sing in good conscience. For instance, the first verse of the song “To God be the Glory” goes like this “To God be the glory great things he hath done/ so loved the world that he gave us his son/ who yielded his life an atonement for sin/and opened the life gate that all may go in”. With the exception of the word all, for which “we” has been substituted in our circles, we can sing this song without any further revisions. Hymns, however, are not the only songs that require us to keep our eyes and ears open. Although our Psalter is in many ways a faithful, sound God-glorifying songbook, there are a few lyrics that should give us pause when we see them. The first is Psalter 255 verse 4 “while He proffers peace and pardon”. God does not proffer or offer peace and pardon to us, He gives it to us of His own free will on the basis Christ’s work of atonement for us on the cross. The second example is found in Psalter 213 verse 8 “They limited God the most holy one, and hindered the work His grace had begun” God’s grace cannot be resisted at all because He “worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). We have no hand in our salvation whatsoever. Furthermore, God cannot be limited in any way, except for the fact that He cannot lie. Hebrews 6:18 even goes so far as to say that it is “impossible” for God to lie. Does this mean that we should avoid singing hymns or any Psalter numbers that contain those things that I have mentioned? I believe that we can sing hymns, provided we use Christian discretion and “try the spirits” (1 John 4:1). Some hymns such as “Amazing Grace”, “Take Time to be Holy”, “Trust and Obey” and “Great is thy Faithfulness” contain sound, Biblical ideas and even direct quotes from the Bible itself. Great is thy faithfulness, for instance is taken out of Lamentations 3:23 and following. Additionally, the first verse quotes from James 1:17 where it talks about God having “no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 2 Timothy 1:12 is quoted in the hymn “I know whom I have believed.” “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” Furthermore Handel’s Messiah contains quotations from Scripture as well. God commands us to sing praises to Him. “Speaking unto yourselves in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”(Ephesians 5:19,20). When we sing with Christian discretion and understanding, keeping an eye out for doctrinal error, we will be blessed by God and will enjoy and be greatly edified by the singing which we do, whether during the worship service, or when we gather with family and friends. God be glorified and praised in our singing!

Kevin Rau