There seems to be a lot of people wanting prayer to be a conversation or talking with God. I guess, depending how you define conversation and talking, you could stretch them into prayer, but for me, the limiting factor is something no one would mistaken. If you were talking or having a conversation with anyone else in the world and your words shifted into prayer that person would immediately know it and, unless they were a cult leader seeking that abomination, they would immediately be uncomfortable with what you were doing.
Prayer is unique. It is more than supplication, for subjects did not pray to their king, even when seeking his aid. It is more than requests for aid, for children do not pray to their parents when they come to them for help. It is more than thanks and praise, for friends do not pray to each other when thanking someone for their help and noting their wonderful kindness. Yet prayer is supplication, requests for aid, and thanks and praise among other things.
Prayer is one of those things about which you can say, I will know it when I see it (or hear it). Prayer is a special category of interaction between God and man, that when expressed to anyone else is utterly out of place.
The problem is then, how do you “pray”, act within that special category, without ceasing. Remember, the effort is complicated by the fact that Jesus, who is our model in all things, went off to actively pray apart from what this command demands. It would seem that there is prayer and there is unceasing prayer, almost as if this command is about something unique. The problem with that is that Paul does not elaborate, almost as if he expects us to understand what he means when he makes the request, that it should be as clear as the other two demands: to always be thankful and rejoicing.
Sometimes it is easier, at least in the beginning, to define what something is not. That way you can narrow the focus, properly position the searchlight. Today I have primarily pointed out what prayer is not and argued that there is no mistaking what it is when you see it, at least in its active openly expressive form. I am not quite ready to go any further than that right now. I need more time to think (and pray ) this through.
May God be gracious to you as we join Jesus on his journey to the upper room, to Gethsemane, to the scourging pillar, and finally to Golgotha and into the stone tomb. The time is short and the events will begin to move with great speed. Prepare your heart now, because once things are set in motion everything will be difficult.
May the grace of God and the fellowship of His saints encourage you in your time of need, always knowing that He who began this good work in you has not deserted you but will be with you, bringing it to completion. Trust that where you fail, He will not, and that like Peter He is always praying for you, for you are His and He will never loose you nor forsake you. Nothing, not anything in all of creation can separate you from Him.
Go with God.
I had written a comment here regarding prayer and conversation, but it grew long, so I have moved it to my blog and linked to your post. Hopefully, others will join the “conversation”.