jump to navigation

Pray without ceasing

From the beginning of the Church prayer has been a central part of Christian living and Church life. St Luke wrote that the newly baptized devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers (Acts 2:42). St Paul encourages us to pray without ceasing to give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Th 5:17-18).

We are all called to a life of continual prayer, whether we lead secular lives, or consecrated lives as clergy, or as members of religious orders. Why are we called to a life of prayer? Simply, we desire intimacy with God, and God with us. The Psalmist eloquently writes of our longing for a relationship with God.

O God, you are my God;
eagerly I see you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my flesh faints for you,
as in a barren and dry land
where there is no water (Ps 63:1).

Through prayer we fulfill our desire to know God. The more we pray, the closer we come to fulfill our desire for intimacy with God. Companions of St Francis recalled of the blessed father that when interrupted by ’secular business’ Francis would attend to what was needed and continue in prayer; as if uninterrupted. Through his deep devotion Francis developed such an intimate union with Christ that in the last years of his life he bore in his body the wounds of Christ.

John Michael Talbot, a great musician and Franciscan brother, expressively defines prayer as

… a mystical union between God and us. It’s a form of communication that makes our relationship to God personal and vital. Its not a cold, impersonal ritual, but a warm and loving embrace between the God of the universe and a humble, hungry soul (1997, p.260).

Fr Basil, a Benedictine monk, reflects on his experiences of teaching methods of prayer—and how prayer is often seen as an arduous task to be completed, rather than a warm and loving embrace. His poignant view reminds us that prayer is about intimate communication between the God of the universe, and a humble hungry soul.

In our Christian traditions, as in all faith traditions, we have many methods of prayer and meditation. There is a bit of a problem though… Prayer is a heavily burdened word for most of us. It carries all sorts of connotations. For many of us, praying was saying prayers and saying them right, without “distractions”. It was getting through an exercise, one due and expected, but very much a duty. No fun! It was certainly not enjoying time with a friend (Pennington, M.B., 1998, pp xi-xii).

%d bloggers like this: