Pray without ceasing? How does That work?! 1 Thessalonians 5:17
"Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
The exhortation to "pray without ceasing" has always been a daunting one for me. Whenever I hear it at mass, I find myself pondering, "Does God really want us to be on our knees in prayer at every moment of the day? What about when I'm hungry and need to eat?! What if I'm at school and needing to pay attention to my professor? What if I'm at work? Am I not allowed to sleep?! Good gracious! What an impractical command!" Have you ever thought similarly?
When our idea of prayer is repeating a bunch of words in a mind numbing sort of way, "praying without ceasing" is a practice that no one could ever fulfill. However, this is not what prayer is. Prayer is simply spending time with God. What do you do when you are with your friends? Talk, listen, go to the movies, eat, and the list goes on.
To pray without ceasing, then, can be best expressed as allowing God to be a part of every moment of our lives. Why? Because God desires to take part in it all. Yes, every moment. God wants to be with you. He wants to love you. He wants to talk to you. He wants to know about your day. He wants to laugh with you. He wants to cry with you. He wants to be at work with you. He wants to be where you are, because He loves you that much!
How do we respond to such a love like this? How do we allow God to take part in every moment of our lives? How do we "pray without ceasing?" It is easier than we think! God, the Holy Spirit, is already dwelling within each heart by merit of our Baptism. So, it becomes a matter of calling upon Him and sharing each moment of our lives with Him.
When you wake up, ask Him to be with you and help you throughout the day. When you eat, thank Him for the blessing of having food to sustain you. When you drive to work, ask God to bless all those who are traveling a long distance especially refugees and immigrants. When you are exercising, call to mind that your body is truly sacred and made in His image. When you are with friends or with others, ask God to allow His love and mercy to shine through you. When you are at work, observe how God may be speaking to you through your co-workers, clients, and supervisors. Each moment of the day is an opportunity for you to invite God to take part in your life, and more importantly, for you to encounter Him in the people you are with and the experiences you have throughout the day.
So, what are you waiting for? Go forth and pray without ceasing!! May God be with you now and forever!