Reading through the Bible together
Paul’s instructions to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) bothered me. He couldn’t possibly mean to walk around with hands folded and eyes closed all day.
Acts 10 provides an answer.
Cornelius, a God-fearing military leader and a Gentile, prayed without ceasing. He is described as “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always” (verse 2). The answer to the meaning of “praying to God always” is found in verse 7. Here Cornelius called for help “from among those who waited on him continuously.” Did each household servant and soldier linger around Cornelius all day long? That would have been impossible because they also slept, ate, and bathed.
The idea of a servant waiting on the master without ceasing is a state of mind. The servant is always ready to do the master’s bidding. Praying without ceasing is also a state of mind. The connection between God and us should never be severed. We should always be listening for God’s voice and ready to do His bidding. God answered Cornelius’ prayers—and not just because he prayed without ceasing. Notice what the angel said, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.” Three times we read that Cornelius prayed and gave generously to other people (verses 2, 4, 31). God notices our prayers and our deeds.
We cannot conclude Acts 10 without discussing an unfortunate misinterpretation. Many Christians point to this chapter to say God lifted Old Testament dietary restrictions by commanding Peter to eat unclean meat and corrected him when he refused. But Peter clearly shows the issue wasn’t food but the expansion of the gospel to include both Jews and Gentiles. “God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean,” Peter said. “God shows no partiality” (Acts 10:28, 34).
“Dear God, teach me to pray always like Cornelius. Help me to maintain that constant connection with You. At the same time, may my deeds come up for a memorial before You today and every day. Amen.”
Andrew McChesneyNews Editor of the Adventist Review