A catchy church sign reminds us of the importance of prayer.
Outdoor church signs can be very entertaining. Some churches have signs to share thoughts, themes, or other messages. The signs can raise questions to make you think. They can relay beautiful statements of faith, or they can make you question where the church puts its faith. Some grab your attention and make you smile, while others make you grab your head and wonder what they are trying to convey. I enjoy reading them as I drive around town. I chuckle or am led to think a bit deeper about the message.
Such a sign struck me this past summer. It said “ASAP” in large letters. We all know what that means, right? “As soon as possible.” Not in this case. In smaller letters below, it read “Always say a prayer.”
A biblical encouragement
Always say a prayer. Simple. Memorable. Practical. Biblical.
What made it catchy is that it offered a deep message using only four letters and four simple words. The simplicity made it memorable. What made it practical is that we know our heavenly Father wants us to pray and has promised to answer our prayers according to his will and plans for us. What made it biblical is that the apostle Paul encouraged prayer in 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “Pray continually.”
Praying continually provides us with an ongoing conversation with our God.
“Pray continually” does not mean a constant babbling of prayers (Matthew 6:7), repeating the same thing over and over or doing it mindlessly. It does mean we get to adore our God for everything he has done for us. We are privileged to confess our sins and hear the sweet words of forgiveness through Jesus. We get to thank our God for his daily blessings. And we can ask for whatever we need, even though God already knows exactly what that is.
An ongoing conversation
With all that being said, do we pray continually? Do we pray to our triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—every day, throughout the day, and in every situation? If we are honest, we have to say no. Sometimes prayer is the last thing we do after trying our own remedies. We even neglect to thank God for answers to previous prayers.
Praying continually provides us with an ongoing conversation with our God. Paul encouraged the Thessalonians—and us—to have a conversation with God in every situation of life. These conversations are meant to strengthen our relationship with him as we listen to and believe his Word and promises.
ASAP can also lead to a stronger connection with others. There are times when we need to say a prayer, as soon as possible, because the situation calls for it. Have you ever told people that you would pray for them, but when you leave them, so does the thought of the prayer? This is a great reason to always say a prayer ASAP, right then and there with the individual. I have done this with a fellow gym member standing next to an elliptical machine. It has happened with our custodian in the church parking lot as I was about to head home.
There also may be times when we just don’t know what to pray because we are in a difficult situation or we are too deeply wounded by the words or actions of others. When we believers can’t find the words to pray, the Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26,27). He will always say a prayer.
As we think about all that God has done for us, we can always say a prayer.
Author: Snowden Sims
Volume 110, Number 09
Issue: September 2023