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In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul calls upon Christians to “pray without ceasing.” But what does that mean? I recently got some help from reading the Puritan pastor Ezekiel Hopkins (1633–1690). He observed: “To pray without ceasing is not to be engaged in the duty of prayer at all times so that other duties are swallowed up in its place.” Rather, it is “to pray with importunity and emotion.” It is to talk to God with frankness and honesty.

Thankfully, we can do this anywhere and at any time. “If our heart and affections are heavenly, they will force out a prayer through the crowd and tumult of worldly business.” In other words, we carry on a conversation with God throughout the day. We might actually pour out our petitions to God while in conversation with a co-worker or friend. We silently voice our needs to God as they well up within us.

Hopkins eventually offers this summary of 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “This is probably the most genuine and natural sense of the words of the Apostle here: to have the habit of always freely and sweetly breathing out our requests unto God. It is to take all occasions to prostrate ourselves before the throne of grace.”

And in case we need some encouragement, ponder these precious words: “Nothing is so desirable in this world as a faithful friend, to whom we may at all times unburden ourselves, and make all our secrets and grievances known. . . . [God] is our most faithful friend who can best help and counsel us.”

I encourage to maintain an ongoing conversation with God this week, remembering that you can speak to him as you would the closest friend you have on earth.