I studied Latin in high school. OK, I sat through four years of Latin class. Four years of conjugating verbs, memorizing gender-specific endings and endless translations from Julius Caesar’s war diaries. All that studying and translating and I can barely remember any of it. But I was really proud of myself when I came across a Latin phrase in a murder mystery I was reading: “Ignorantia juris non excusat.” Simply translated, it means, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” That means that even if you didn’t know the speed limit was 35 mph, you are still probably going to be ticketed for driving 65 mph, especially if you were driving ignorant of the law right past the police station.
I suppose that’s why people charged with crimes cannot claim that they were unaware of the law and are therefore not liable for any fines or penalties. I know there are exceptions, but I’ll leave them for the TV talking head legal pundits. But right now, for the sake of this little column, let us agree that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking the law.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray continually.” Stated in the imperative, those two words are a commandment for us. A law of sorts. We are to pray continually. All the time. Without stopping. In other words, we are to pray as often (and as naturally) as we breathe.
When you don’t know how to pray, pray anyway. Ignorance is no excuse.
When you don’t feel like praying, pray anyway. Depression is no excuse.
When you can’t muster enough enthusiasm to change channels, much less pray, pray anyway. Boredom is no excuse.
When you don’t really see a need to intercede for those about you, pray anyway. Spiritual blindness is no excuse.
When you’ve grown indifferent and don’t read the Bible the way you once did, pray anyway. Spiritual laziness is no excuse.
When you don’t understand what the big deal is about prayer, when you think pray is overrated and you know that your prayers don’t get any higher than the ceiling, pray anyway. Spiritual immaturity is no excuse.
When you’re too tired to remember your name, address and phone number, pray anyway. Fatigue is no excuse.
When you come before God, confessing the same sins over and over, pray anyway. Shame is no excuse.
When you’ve been unfaithful, have betrayed those you love, have rebelled against God, and are burdened with a load of guilt so heavy you can’t stand up under it, pray anyway. Sin is no excuse.
When Satan whispers (or shouts) to you that there really is no God, or that God is not really interested in a no-account person like you, pray anyway. Unbelief is no excuse.
No matter what our emotions or circumstance, there is no time, no circumstance, no condition in which prayer is not necessary, not vital, not helpful, and not the right thing to do. Ignorance of 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is no excuse.
We are to pray continually.
Verna Davis, speaker and writer, maybe reached at VrdSpeaks@yahoo.com.