Lectionary Passage: 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-19 (20-24)
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.
How do you pray without ceasing? I mean, OK, now, let’s pray. We pray and we pray. Things are going OK. We’re praying along. Wait, who’s phone is that? Hold on, it’s mine. Stop praying. Answer the phone. OK, now, I need to pick up the house a bit. And I need to write the blog for tomorrow. And tomorrow is trash day. And Maynard needs his dinner. And, to be honest, I think I do too. Pray without ceasing? Really? How do you fit that in? And, sadly, the Spirit is quenched.
Paul was not laying down a rule for prayer. Paul never envisioned us living body-bent and knee-bowed 24/7. After all, there is WAY too much work to do. We’ve got some Kingdom-building to accomplish, don’t we? No, Paul was not calling us to a life spent in prayer; He was calling us to a prayerful life, a life that is sacred, hallowed, a life lived in the unquenchable Spirit of God. It’s not about logging prayer hours. Rather, it’s about perspective, about seeing everything that is your life as hallowed and holy, as of God, as prayer. Olga Savin says that “[the Scriptures] tell us that ceaseless prayer in pursuit of God and communion with [God] is not simply life’s meaning or goal, the one thing worth living for, but it is life itself.” And a life lived the way it is called to be lived is the very will of God. It is prayer.
And so, pray without ceasing. When you answer the phone, cherish the family member or the friend or the co-worker who has called you. In fact, give thanks for the person on the other end who inadvertantly dialed the wrong number. After all, they, too, are your brother or sister. God has called us to love one another. And as you clean and straighten, look around you. Your dwelling is more than shelter. It is an expression of you. Give thanks for the you that God has made. And then do what God has called you to do. Use your talents. Give thanks for them. They were given to you by God to use in the building of God’s Kingdom. And that big black lab that wants his dinner? Personally, I thank God everyday for bringing us together. How did I find a companion like this on the internet? He needed me; I needed him. Isn’t that why Creation exists? Then sit back and taste dinner. Taste that which has been lovingly grown by the Divine. And give thanks. Every household task, everything thing you do, do as a prayer. And all of those never-ending interruptions? Think of them as holy. (After all, think about it–when did God show up as planned?) Make everything you do an offering to the Divine. Let everything you have and everything you are be a preparation for God’s coming. Embrace it. Rejoice in it. Give thanks.
In this season of waiting for the coming of God, pray without ceasing. In other words, live your life to the fullest and the best. Offer it to God. And rejoice in what you have–companionship, beauty, work, love. G.K. Chesterton exhorted us to “let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.” I love that. You know, God is coming. It will happen. But don’t forget that God is here. Rejoice! And live your life waiting and rejoicing, rejoicing and waiting. And, most of all, love. That is how you pray without ceasing.
In this season of Advent, give yourself the gift of seeing your life as prayer, of living in a love affair with God.
Grace and Peace,