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To pray without ceasing

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, the apostle Paul exhorts believers to "pray without ceasing." This exhortation, along with the bracketing commands to "rejoice always" (5:16) and to "give thanks in all circumstances" (5:18), is an expression of the "the will of God for [his people]" (5:18). But it is easier to talk about this will than to experience it. Surrounded by myriad stressors and distractions, we find it difficult to focus on God for 20 minutes in the morning, much less to pray constantly. 


Perhaps we need to begin again with the simple intention to step into this world of joyful, thankful prayer, not intimidated by the time-requirement but invigorated by the happy possibilities. Fortunately, when we do so, we are not alone. We have the guidance of those who have gone before us in the faith and who have discovered the secret to this life. "Brother Lawrence," who served as a lay-member of a French monastery in the 17th-century, is one such person. Below, we share some of his wisdom contained in the famous book, The Practice of the Presence of God.

3 tips from Brother Lawrence

1. The most holy and necessary practice in our spiritual life is the presence of God. That means finding constant pleasure in His divine company, speaking humbly and lovingly with Him in all seasons, at every moment, without limiting the conversation in any way.


2. We must try to converse with God in little ways while we do our work, not in memorized prayer ... Rather, we should purely and simply reveal our hearts as the words come to us.


3. Whatever we do, even if we are reading the Word or praying, we should stop for a few minutes—as often as possible—to praise God from the depths of our hearts, to enjoy Him there in secret. Since you believe that God is always with you ... why shouldn't you stop for a while to adore Him, to praise Him, to petition Him, to offer Him your heart, and to thank Him?​

During this year of prayer (and beyond!) perhaps many of us can become more aware of God's presence, more willing to converse with him, more ​eager to adore him. And perhaps as we do so, we will begin—as Brother Lawrence did—to find "constant pleasure in His divine company."​


Take a deep breath - we're not asking you to attempt a 16 hour prayer vigil!  Rather, the challenge is this: Talk to God 1 time during every hour that you are awake this month.  If you're sleeping the recommended 8 hours a day, that means that you'll be awake for the other 16.  The goal isn't to retreat to your prayer closet more than a dozen times throughout the day, but to talk to the Father in the midst of whatever you find yourself doing: driving to work, washing dishes, cutting the grass, between answering emails, or brushing your teeth.  Simply take a few moments in the midst of these activities to acknowledge his nearness, thank him for something good, or hand over a worry that may be plaguing your thoughts in that moment.  

May God give us the grace to be more attentive to his presence and learn what it means to pray without ceasing!

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