Tom Elliff
Oklahoma City, OK

After pastoring for forty-two years, Tom Elliff served the International Mission Board, first as Senior Vice President for Spiritual Nurture and Church Relations from 2005-2009, then as President from 2011-2014. Tom served pastorates in Arkansas, Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma and as an IMB missionary in Zimbabwe. Tom also served as president of the SBC Pastor's Conference and two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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By on November 7, 2014

One of the joys Jeannie and I are experiencing these days is the joy of being physically together almost constantly. We don’t have to interrupt our schedules, make a phone call, or set aside a special time to talk. We just talk…as we work together, eat together, shop together, travel together, visit with others, or simply lie in bed together at night. And even when we are not actually speaking we are still communing with one another. Sometimes the greatest intimacy takes place in the simplicity of silent togetherness.

 We are…together! I mean, we’ve always been “together,” but somehow it is different these days. These days, other events can themselves become an interruption to the quiet joys of unceasing intimacy. We are loving this life!

Now to the point of all this. I heard it again just recently. A well-meaning brother drew a rather lengthy meeting to what he felt was a fitting end by asking someone to “close us out with a little prayer.” It seemed that prayer had been reduced to a matter of etiquette, a duty to perform in order to portray good, Christian manners, a formality to be carried out while folks reached for their coats and car keys.

Is communing with God something that should be fit in; an interruption to everything else we do? Or should it be the priority? Especially considering:

  •  There is no substitute for prayer…none whatever!
  • Prayer is something we do…not merely think about doing.
  • Prayer deserves attention, energy, and order.
  • There is no shorter route to the heart of God than through prayer.
  • Prayer has no regret. Prayerlessness does.
  • You do not pray to get God’s attention, but because you have it.

Of course, every family needs the occasional “sit down.” And the Bible is filled with exhortations and illustrations of calls to special, urgent times of prayer. But today, I am simply encouraging you to consider the joy and effectiveness that comes with doing everything in an atmosphere of prayerful intimacy with Christ.

 For many years I’ve closed my letters with Paul’s exhortation in 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Rejoice evermore!” Today, I simply urge you to consider the next verse.

“Pray without ceasing!”

 Tom Elliff








  • cbtolosa

    Brenda and I are experiencing the same “togetherness” while we are staying in a Missionary House in Conover, NC seeking medical attention for Brenda’s digenerative disc problems.  We desire to be back with the Deaf people of South America, but have accepted this detour from God as a time of prayer, fasting and “togetherness”.

  • Rusti

    One of the things I love about serving as a missionary with my husband, Mark, is the time we spend each morning reading and studying together before the day gets busy.  Sometimes our time is spent in complete silence, but at other times we spend in discussion of the things we are studying and reading. We have the freedom here which we never had in the U.S. because we both had “regular” jobs to attend to and didn’t take the time we should have to be together in study and fellowship. In some ways, it’s the best times of our life together.  Thanks for your encouragement on the subject of prayer.  We agree with you totally!