What does coughing have to do with prayer? Another special devotion I read in Haiti from A Word for the Day was regarding the Greek words “proseuchomai adialeiptos,” which means “pray without ceasing” (see 1 Thessalonians 5:17). The author explained it this way:
This word was used in Roman times for a nagging cough; while the person didn’t cough every moment, he would still cough often, so it could be said of him, “He’s still coughing.” In other words, prayer is not just those specific times when we pray, but also a constant communion with God, a continuous consciousness of God’s presence in which we view everything in life in relation to Him…every moment is a moment for prayer; like the cough, we’re still praying. In short, we view everything that comes along from a spiritual perspective.
Well, it just so happened that I read this the morning after I visited the orphanage in Haiti. One girl really caught my attention because she had a constant cough like this. I really took it to heart to pray for her and to understand what it means to “pray without ceasing.” It doesn’t mean to pray 24/7; it means you keep on praying, keep on returning to it. I would say my life is like that. I almost always try to see things from God’s perspective. If I’m not happy with a situation, or if I’m frustrated, I will say (literally) to God, “What’s this about? What are You doing here?” — in an effort to get His perspective. I am continually returning to pray, regarding nearly everything in life. I never want to try to control Him; I simply want to leave things in His hands. He knows best. I pray in order to commune with Him, express my trust and need of Him, and seek to understand. Like a persistent cough, I will never stop praying.
I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. Philippians 1:3-4 (HCSB)
For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. Colossians 1:9 (HCSB)