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6 Ways to ‘Pray Without Ceasing’

That biblical phrase can feel intimidating—how do I do that? But here are a few ways to try.

Pray without ceasing
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It’s there in the letter Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, that intimidating phrase, “pray without ceasing” or “pray continually.” I read it and wonder, “Is that really possible?” If so, how? Here are a few ways I try.

1)  Love God with all your heart, mind and soul. When Jesus emphasized the importance of this commandment, it’s about priorities. What matters most in my life? How do I measure success? Where do I seek and find happiness?

Love is so much bigger in God’s world than it is in our mundane lives. We’re supposed to do it all the time, and this feels to me like praying. Continually. Living a life that puts our love of God—and loving our neighbor as ourselves—first. Every action, every reflection, every thought has the potential to be part of this BIG prayer.

2)  Don’t limit your notions of prayer. Prayer is conversation with God. And mind you, silence is certainly an enriching part of any conversation—think of how we use that phrase “a comfortable silence” to describe the quiet between two people who know each other well.

When we’re with our loved ones we communicate so much without words. A sigh, a shrug, an embrace, a willingness to help. “Here, let me do that,” we say. Or we simply do it. By all means, use verbal prayer in your communication with the Lord. But don’t forget how much can be said without any words at all. Continually.

3)  Give yourself moments of silence. Sit for a moment. Close your eyes. Listen to your breath. Breathe in God’s love…and breathe out some of the distractions that can so easily get in the way of a loving relationship. With God and those “neighbors” of ours.

Once again, silence doesn’t mean you’re saying nothing. It’s keeping the focus in the right place.

4)  Use your body in prayer. I think of the old high school football cheer we used to say, “Lean to the left, lean to the right, come on team, fight, fight, fight.” We moved in the bleachers as we said it. Life is full of movement—we walk, we climb stairs, we sit, we stand, we lean, we bend. As you feel your body moving, feel the Creator work through you. 

Sitting there in front of the computer. Pause and put your hands on the opposite shoulders or around your waist. Give yourself a hug. From God.

5)  Give thanks. That very verse in Thessalonians is followed by the lovely admonishment: “give thanks in all circumstances…” It’s that “all” that often causes us to stumble. But think of the trials and setbacks Paul himself suffered. If he could give thanks in all things, can’t I?

The most thankful people are not necessarily the ones you expect. Volunteering at our church’s soup kitchen, I’ve gotten to know some of our regular guests. I can’t begin to fathom the misfortunes and losses they’ve suffered. And yet, they are the most grateful people I’ve ever met. As one of them said to me recently, “God is here.” Thankful without ceasing.

6)  Let go. Living a life of constant prayer means living the Lord’s Prayer, backwards and forwards, especially that challenge of “Thy will be done.” Acceptance. Seeing that God’s will—greater than we might imagine is at work. Pray that without ceasing.

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