Tuesday, April 12, 2011
How can I pray without ceasing?
Prayer is many faceted. That is there are different forms. Sometimes part of prayer is listening. The point is that we should be in communion with God at all times. How do we do this? First, we do actual prayer. Whether it's four minutes a day, 10 minutes, an hour.. each person has a different prayer life. They should do as much as they can personally, and as much as God leads them to do.
Sometimes I sit with my wife in complete silence. I even study her face, or smile and watch her as she does her college homework, or fixes some papers for work. She knows I'm there, and knows all she has to do is say something, and I'll get up and help her or get something for her.
This is part of what God wants from us. Even when we are watching TV or working in the garden, or at work. We should be listening for His prompting, and ever ready to jump and do His bidding.
We also look for God in others. The Bible reminds us that when we do something for the 'least of these' we are doing it for Christ. Part of our prayerful outlook on life is to consistently look for ways to help people, serve one another, and thus serve God.
Then there are specific times we can pray. At dinner, before we eat and even after. It's easy to give thanks while hungry, much more so remembering to thank God once our stomach's are full! We can thank God in the morning when the sun comes up. At night when we see a beautiful moon. St. Francis once woke an entire village up with the warning bell, yelling look at the Moon. He was so enamored with the beauty of God's creation that he wanted to share it. He even went out and preached to 'creation' literally. Was found often preaching to animals in the wilderness, or picking up worms and moving them out of wagon tracks so they wouldn't be killed.
Is that a bit extreme? Maybe. It does remind us though that our lives are filled with blessings. In our communion with God we need to see that those blessings are there, and give thanks for them. When we see a child behaving exceptionally well, we know that God has a hand in that. When we see a bird feeding it's young, we know God has a hand in that as well.
Prayer is about remember that our bodies are a temple for God. That each breath, action, though should embody that. Giving thanks to God for everything, even when it's difficult to do so. For the good and the bad. Vocally at times, in thought at others, on our knees when appropriate, and even when simply walking through the yard. Even washing dishes can be a powerful reminder to thank God. Remember that he created the wood that a beautiful platter is made of, and he created the 'creativity' that went into making that platter! That when we see a beautiful painting it reminds us that God was the original creator, the original painter! That the rainbow in the sky is God's creation and that each breath we take is filled with a reminder that God gave us that breath, He breathed it directly into man and quickened his mortal body! Prayer is not just listing things that we have to be thankful for, but simply existing with God in our bodies.
The Bible says the spirit utters groans that cannot be put to words, when we have no words to say. Prayer is much like that at times. God knows our hearts, and where they are dwelling. By thinking on things of heaven, love, faith, hope, charity etc, we are existing in a state of prayer. So even when we are vegging out, not really paying attention, our hearts are still calling out to Him. That is what continual prayer is. Calling out to God, even when we aren't saying a single word.
We Christians must live ever present to the current moment. Not dwelling in the past on our failures, or worrying for the future. Simply living in the moment and knowing that God will provide what we need, and calling out for Him, searching for His face. Continually doing His work, and reminding our mind to think His thoughts. Through love and through the power of the Holy Spirit we can be transformed. Transformed in ways we cannot do alone. Until our life is no longer a reflection of ourselves, but of the divine love and radiant grace of Jesus Christ, our Lord.