A second reason I believe “pray without ceasing” refers primarily to persistent praying is because of the example Jesus set before us.
Jesus lived in total dependence on the Father. As we read the Gospels, we constantly see Him praying. He rose up early to pray. He prayed all night. Suffice it to say that He had intensity, a depth to His praying that we can scarcely comprehend.
Of course the greatest example of Jesus’ persistent prayer life is in His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion. Three times He went into the deep recesses of the garden to pray to the Father. He prayed long and hard. He prayed intensely with great agony, so much so that His skin began to pour blood through His sweat glands. We see Jesus in prolonged, persistent agonizing earnest prayer. The lesson is obvious. If Jesus who is the image of the Father prayed like this, how much more should we in our weakness, “pray without ceasing.”
There’s one more thing about Jesus’ teaching on prayer we should observe. Notice what He said in Matthew 6:7, our memory verse for this week. In other words, when we pray, we are not to say the same phrases over and over again, thinking God is impressed with our “many words.” We don’t memorize little prayers and repeat them time and time again. We certainly don’t seek some ecstatic “prayer language” and mumble gibberish over and over again. No, when Jesus speaks of persistent, earnest prayer He means continuing to lay our needs and desires before God and not giving up when at first they don’t seem to be answered.