Unceasing Prayer

“To pray, I think, does not mean to think about God in contrast to thinking about other things, or to spend time with God instead of spending time with other people. Rather, it means to think and live in the presence of God. As soon as we begin to divide our thoughts about God and thoughts about people and events, we remove God from our daily life and put him into a pious little niche where we can think pious thoughts and experience pious feelings. … Although it is important and even indispensable for the spiritual life to set apart time for God and God alone, prayer can only become unceasing prayer when all our thoughts — beautiful or ugly, high or low, proud or shameful, sorrowful or joyful — can be thought in the presence of God. … Thus, converting our unceasing thinking into unceasing prayer moves us from a self-centred monologue to a God-centred dialogue” (Henri Nouwen).

To pray without ceasing is not to keep up an unending dialogue with your eyes shut the entire time. It’s not to roll out a never-ending laundry list of requests to God. Nor is it to remain separated from the people you’re interceding for.

Unceasing prayer is a mindfulness of God in everything. It’s to act and speak and live for an audience of one. It’s to see the image of God in the person in front of you and treat that person as holy. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17, NIV).

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