Pray Without Ceasing

“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

There is a great difference between prayer and the life of prayer. Almost everyone prays, but very few pray without ceasing. This is the habit of devotion. This is the altar of incense ever burning in the Holy Place. This is the fragrance of a heart that lives in the presence of the Holy One, and breathes the very life of God. This is the deep undertone of a sanctified life. It is from this that the sweetness, the gladness, the holiness, and the helpfulness come. Lord, teach us the habit of prayer, the prayer that springs spontaneously from the heart, and which neither secular duty, satanic temptation, nor the waves of sorrow, can interrupt, but which is only stimulated by the things that try us, until every experience becomes transformed into an occasion for communion and fellowship with God.
–A. B. Simpson



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9 responses to “Pray Without Ceasing

  1. cherylu

    Hi, I’ve been reading your site for awhile now. Honestly can’t remember if I have commented here before or not. My world has been a bit hectic lately!

    Anyway, I apprecieated this quote by A. B. Simpson. Just a word of caution regarding him though. From other things I have read by and about him, he was a practicer of contemplative prayer to one degree or another.

  2. Thanks for the heads up Cheryl… interestingly I read the same thing about AW Tozer. Simpson was his mentor who founded the CMA church. Do you think it’s the same contemplative that people are doing today? That didn’t really make a come back till the 1960’s or so with Thomas Merton.

  3. cherylu


    I think it probably was–although I don’t know if it was as highly developed as it is today.

    I read an article a couple of years ago by someone in the CMA church that talked about Simpson and contemplative. It was his contention that Simpson and the CMA church had started out as contemplative, had gotten away from it, and now needed to, if I recall what he said correctly, “come back to it’s roots.” From what I understand, that may be happening, especially with the CMA church in Canada. The blog, More Books and Things has had quite a bit of info on that in the past years. The gal that writes it is from Canada I believe.

    If the man that wrote that article was correct or not, I don’t know. But he isn’t the only one that I have read that has made the connection.

  4. cherylu

    Here is a link to an article about Simpson that is revealing.

    It is a part of this whole outline:

    This is the first paragraph in the linked article:

    “An often overlooked aspect of Simpson’s spirituality was his mystical and contemplative elements.(80) Recent scholarship by Clyde Glass, however, “shows that Simpson appropriated mystical and contemplative practices for his personal piety, and encouraged these practices in the lives of his people through his modeling, preaching and writing.”(81) He was greatly influenced and shaped by an old mediaeval message found in A Guide to True Peace or The Excellency of Inward and Spiritual Prayer (1818) which was a compilation of Quietist writings by Madame Jeanne Guyon (1648-1717), Francois Fenelon (1651-1715) and Michael de Molinos (1640-1697) and edited by two Quakers, William Backhouse and James Janson.(82) This book became yet another turning point in Simpson’s life and probably became the basis for his practice of via negativa, that is, “the image of passivity and receptivity to God as the world was shut out and the intellect was stilled in apophatic prayer.”(83)

    Assuming that information is correct, it certainly sounds like the same type of contemplative prayer that we have today.

  5. Thanks for the info Cheryl. I will definitely look into and read the article from the link you provided. Are you aware of the link between the Quakers and Jane Leade and Philidelpian Society?

    Here’s a quote from this site that ties them all together:

    Gnosticism, def. — “a system of mystical religious and philosophical doctrines, combining Christianity with Greek and Oriental philosophies, propagated by early Christian sects that were denounced as heretical.”
    Gnosticism believes that the fall of Adam, man, was caused by losing knowledge that kept him in a special spiritual place. The belief that Adam was originally androgynous, or hermaphroditic, and then separated into male and female comes from Greek mythology. It was syncretized with Christianity by Jacob Boehme during the Renaissance. Adam is said to “become whole” again by acquiring “lost knowledge”. The gnostics believed the soul is a “female principle” and “God,” the universe, the “male principle.” The search is for the soul to mystically unite with “God” through contemplative prayer. This meditative state is also known as “Quietism.” Gnostics that engage in quietism apparently do unite with a “higher power” but it is not God.
    Quietism, def. — “a form of religious mysticism that involves complete extinction of the human will, drawing away from worldly things, and passive contemplation of God and divine things: it was taught by the 17th-century Spanish priest Molinos.”
    Theosophy, def. — “(1) any of various philosophies or religious systems that propose to establish direct contact with divine principle through contemplation, revelation, etc. and to gain thereby a spiritual insight superior to empirical knowledge. (2) the doctrines and beliefs of a modern sect of this nature that incorporates elements of Buddhism and Brahmanism.” (Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary Unabridged, Second Edition:)

    The theosophists Jacob Boehme (1575-1624) and Jane Leade (1623-1704) believed that man could become “Christ” upon entering into the third “age” of Joachim of Fiore. These mystics had visions and dreams and the false doctrines derived from their experences were unacceptable to their fellow Protestants. Boehme is called “the father of Western Sophiology” because he revived the gnostic doctrinal errors. Jane and a man named John Pordage formed “The Philadelphian Society for the Advancement of Piety and Divine Philosophy” At one point in her life, Jane Leade received a vision of a lady who called herself Virgin-Wisdom who said, “I am God’s Eternal Virgin-Wisdom, whom thou hast been enquiring after.” The “Corporate Manchild” manifestation was prophetically declared by Jane Leade in 1697. Jane Leade is also the originator of the concept of restoration of apostles and prophets which has become today’s “New Apostolic Reformation.”
    “Mystical union” and “dying to self” doctrines are directly linked to Jacob Boehme and Jane Leade. Shakers, Quakers, Mormons, Rosicrucians, and Freemasons embrace this doctrine, which is also known as Radical Pietism. They all teach that Jesus Christ is a “Pattern Son” to be duplicated and copied so that the spiritually elite gnostics are transformed into “Christ.”
    The originators and proponents of the New Order of the Latter rain have based their foundational “theology” upon the false and gnostic doctrines of Joachim of Fiore, Jacob Boehme and Jane Leade.

  6. cherylu

    Isn’t it amazing how all of this stuff links together? They are linking together more and more in the present and obviously they have been linked in their past origins.

    I have believed for some time that the experiences in the hyper charismatic church and the experiences received through contemplative prayer are basically one and the same. Just a slightly different emphasis and way of receiving them, but coming from the same place.

    By the way, I didn’t read the whole article I gave the link for regarding A.B. Simpson. It appeared very lengthy. I just read the part of it dealing with contemplative that I quoted from.

  7. Cheryl,
    You said:

    I have believed for some time that the experiences in the hyper charismatic church and the experiences received through contemplative prayer are basically one and the same.

    I have felt the same way for a long time as well!! Contemplative prayer opens the doors to many demonic things. But the roots of the modern Latter Rain movement are corrupted with kabbalah, and that is a lot of what is going on as well.

  8. Lee

    So how is one supposed to fulfill the biblical admonition without falling into error? I see a lot of criticism of what is called “contemplative prayer” today. Some of it is warranted as many of its proponents (primary catholic) have drawn heavily from eastern TM traditions. I have seen precious little of teaching/suggestions on how to actually fulfill 1 Thes. 5:17 in some more biblical way. Is it wrong to mediate on a particular scripture? Is it improper to repeat the name of Jesus or Father in prayer? Is learning how to quiet your mind from all the distractions of the day (kids, work, bills, etc) to focus on the love of God a gateway to satanic influence?

    Can’t it be said that a lot of this criticism is awfully close to speck pointing (without the requisite log removing)?

  9. Lee, Jesus taught us to pray to our Father, IN HEAVEN. Not to go within ourselves. He also told us not to do repeatitive praying. Also, according to the Hebrew definition of the word ‘meditate’, it means to speak, utter etc.

    Comtemplative prayer, according to the teachings of the catholic mystics that is being re-taught today is actually TM.

    You are right about having more teachings on praying biblically to fulfill 1 thess 5:17…..

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