Scripture Text: Thessalonians 5: 16-19
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. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil. May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
Pray without ceasing? Are you kidding me? Think how much we have to do in this season! I mean, prayer is a good thing, a great thing in fact. We all know that. But pray without ceasing? As in ALWAYS? So, what do we do with those distractions, with all those who need us to do something? What do we do with life? What do you do with all the preparations that the season holds? How do you fit that in? Uh oh…Spirit effectively quenched! Not good…I hate it when that happens!
The truth is, Paul was not telling us that we had to spend our days body-bent and knee-bowed. The truth is, there is WAY too much work to do. We’ve got some Kingdom-building to do, after all. Paul was not calling us to a life spent in prayer but rather to a prayerful life, a life that is sacred, hallowed, a life lived in the unquenchable Spirit of God. This has nothing to do with counting the number of hours or minutes or nano-seconds that you spend in prayer. A prayerful life is one that sees everything as hallowed and holy, sees everything as of God, embraces life as a gift rather than a vessel to be filled with things and to do lists and results. Praying without ceasing is not about “doing”; it is about being. 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, the very will of, as the Scripture says, the one who is faithful. It is prayer–ceaseless prayer.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if in our Advent waiting, we found a time of prayer, we found a time, as Mary did, to ponder (Luke 2: 19). Maybe THAT’S what’s wrong with us. Maybe we’ve lost our ability to ponder, to be attentive to what resides in the deepest part of our soul, to be aware of God’s Presence in our lives. Maybe this time of waiting is so that we’ll take the opportunity to do some serious pondering, to pray without ceasing. After all, what in your life is NOT holy? What in your life is NOT positively bursting with the Divine? What in your life is NOT a gift from God? Well, the answer is nothing. There is NOTHING in your life that is not full to the very brim–spilling-over-chock-full-seemingly-unable-to-put-anything-else-in-brim–with the presence of the one who calls you, the one who is faithful, the one who is ALWAYS there. Make everything you do an offering to God. Let everything you have and everything you are be a preparation for God’s coming. Offer it to God. G.K. Chesterton once said “let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.” Praying without ceasing is probably more about living, about loving, about holy waiting, than it is about prayer as we often define it. It has little to do with the words we say and everything to do with tuning ourselves to the conversation that God is already inviting us to live.
The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw—and knew I saw—all things in God and God in all things. (Mechtilde of Magdeburg, 13th century)
FOR TODAY: Pray without ceasing. Look around you. EVERYTHING that you see, EVERYTHING that you touch, EVERYTHING that you imagine, EVERYTHING that you let loose, EVERYTHING that you pick up, EVERYTHING that you eat, EVERYTHING that you love, EVERYTHING that is you…EVERYTHING is full to the brim with God. Pray without ceasing.
Grace and Peace,