Pray Without Ceasing

pray without ceasing1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 (NRSV)
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.

Prayer is a request for what is good, offered by the devout of God. But we do not restrict this request simply to what is stated in words. We should not express our prayer merely in syllables, but also through the attitude of our soul and in the virtuous actions we do in our life. This is how you pray continually — not by offering prayer in words, but by joining yourself to God through your whole way of life, so that your life becomes one continuous and uninterrupted prayer. – Basil the Great

Extended quote by Steve Harper from Let us Pray: The Essence of Prayer
Here is my distilled essence of prayer. First, prayer is attitude. This means it includes occasional acts, but it is actually an ongoing disposition of the heart, not limited to fixed times of devotion.

Second, prayer is abandonment. It is taking every moment and saying, “Not my will but thine be done.” It is the surrender of egotism and the offering of our lives to God–what Saint Francis called being “an instrument of Your peace.”

And third, prayer is attentiveness, so that God can communicate with us as much in the ordinary moment as in the spectacular ones.

Almost everything else about prayer emerges from one of these three elements. In them we find the foundation for both personal and corporate prayer.

Extended quote by Augustine of Hippo from his Discourse on Psalm 37
And all my desire is before you (Ps 37:10)… This very desire of yours is your prayer; and if your desire is continual, your prayer is continual too. It was not for nothing that the Apostle said: “Pray without ceasing” (1Thes 5:17). Can we unceasingly bend our knees, bow down our bodies or uplift our hands, that he should tell us: Pray without ceasing? No; if it is thus he bids up pray, I do not think we can do so without ceasing.

But there is another way of praying, interior and unbroken, and that is the way of desire. Whatever else you are doing, if you long for that sabbath, you are not ceasing to pray. If you do not want to cease praying, do not cease longing.

Your unceasing desire is your unceasing prayer. You will lapse into silence if you lose your longing. Who did lapse into silence? Those of whom it has been said: “Because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold” (Mt 24.12). The coldness of charity is the heart’s silence; its glowing ardor, the heart’s outcry. If charity is always present, you are ever crying out; if always crying out, you are ever longing; if longing, you have not forgotten the everlasting repose.

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