Praying Together: Famine or Feast

Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18

We were newlyweds sitting around our cafe-style kitchen table, trying to establish a pattern of praying together. I used many words; he was quiet before praying a few words. 

“This isn’t how I imagined praying together would look,” I thought. 

Pray without ceasing…

I felt we had “lots” to pray about our first year of marriage–my husband’s one-year job on the family farm as we raised support to move into rural church-planting ministry, and my cluelessness as a short-term farmer’s wife (trying not to freak out when the cattle got out and trampled my garden), just to name two. Surely my husband needed more words in his prayers! 

Charles Spurgeon delivered a message on March 10, 1872, titled, “Pray without Ceasing” in which he said of the words of 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Do they not imply that the use of the voice is not an essential element in prayer? It would be most unseemly even if it were possible for us to continue unceasingly to pray aloud. There would of course be no opportunity for preaching and hearing, for the exchange of friendly intercourse, for business, or for any other of the duties of life; while the din of so many voices would remind our neighbours rather of the worship of Baal; than that of Zion.” 

I needed to realign my thoughts on “ceaseless praying,” realizing it’s not my voice as much as my heart endlessly unfolding before my Father…and listening to His voice.

It’s the same in my marriage–my husband wants to hear my heart and I want to hear his as we join together in prayer. It can be any time of day or season of life as the Psalmist wrote, “I will call on Him as long as I live” (Psalm 116:2b). 

More recently, my husband and I like to walk and pray out loud together. We’ve learned to begin our time by praising God. One of us will pick an attribute or a Scripture to praise God with, and the other will pray in agreement, adding praise. Next, we confess out loud and agree with God (and each other) how we fall short, then move into thanksgiving, recounting God’s faithfulness over the past days, weeks, months, and years. We take turns praying for each of our five children, spread across three states, then intercede for others as God brings them to mind, always remembering to lift up each other. 

Giving thanks in all circumstances… 

Charles Spurgeon’s message continues, “When joy and prayer are married, their first born child is gratitude. When we joy in God for what we have, and believingly pray to Him for more, then our souls thank Him both in the enjoyment of what we have, and in the prospect of what is yet to come.” 

We’ve been in a tough season the last six months as we transitioned from 20 years of church-planting in rural Nebraska to serving in our mission agency’s office in central Illinois. Are there things to be thankful for in this season? Some days it feels as if we’re in a famine of thanksgiving. 

Farmer’s wife and NY Times best-selling author Ann Voskamp writes in her book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, “I hunger for filling in a world that is starved.” Ann encourages us that spiritual nourishment comes as we recount our thanksgivings to God in the day to day. “As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible. Joy is always possible. Whenever, meaning–now; wherever, meaning–here.”

As my husband and I walk through this time of famine in our lives, we can help each other recount God’s faithfulness in the here and now. We are thankful to have others in our lives who also remind us of ways we can be thankful amidst all the change in our daily lives.

For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you…

I cannot write better words here than thoseOld English and allfurther on in Charles Spurgeon’s message, “Never give up praying, not even though Satan should suggest to you that it is in vain for you to cry unto God. Pray in his teeth; ‘pray without ceasing.’ If for a while the heavens are as brass and your prayer only echoes in thunder above your head, pray on; if month after month your prayer appears to have miscarried, and no reply has been vouchsafed to you, yet still continue to draw nigh unto the Lord. Do not abandon the mercy-seat for any reason whatever. If it be a good thing that you have been asking for, and you are sure it is according to the divine will, if the vision tarry, wait for it, pray, weep, entreat, wrestle, agonise till you get that which you are praying for. If your heart be cold in prayer, do not restrain prayer until your heart warms, but pray your soul unto heat by the help of the ever-blessed Spirit who helpeth our infirmities.”

Hallelujah! Amen! As my husband and I have prayed our way through 20+ years of famine and feast, marriage and parenting, cattle and people work, we have found that seeking God’s will brings peaceful clarity to our ofttimes tumultuous lives. 

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About Denna Busenitz

Denna and her husband, Kurt, have five children (3 teens and 2 tweens) and have been church planters with RHMA in the Sandhills Region of Nebraska nearly 20 years. Kurt pastors Sandhills Church of Hope- ‘one church with two locations’ in small-town and rural NE. Denna has a music degree from Moody Bible Institute and helps coordinate music at church. Her weeks are filled with Moms in Prayer groups, kids club/youth ministries and organizing the family calendar. She serves on her local grocery store board and substitutes at school.