Short and sweet - Hope 103.2

Short and sweet

By David ReayWednesday 12 Mar 2014LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Pray without ceasing. (NRSV)

Not getting our money’s worth this time,are we? Three little words,just one verse. And yet a verse which sounds so right and at the same time seems to have lost touch with the real world.

How realistic is it to pray all the time? It is reminiscent of the story of the goalkeeper in a soccer team. He was a devout Christian who prayed before each and every game. One particular game his pre-game prayers went on a bit longer than usual and,as he was on his knees beseeching God for help in keeping a clean sheet,the opposing team kicked off and booted the ball into the net past the praying keeper. Praying all the time is just not on. There is a time to be on our knees and a time to be on our feet.

Then again,ceaseless praying is what we are called to do. And for this to be realistic,we need to review our understanding of just what prayer is. It is much more than a formal time on our knees at the beginning of the day,much more than the ritual prayers in church services. Prayer is ongoing communication with God and as such occurs beneath the articulate,verbal level. Most of my own prayers are silent and break all sorts of grammatical rules! So we can be driving a car,doing the shopping,watching TV,or weeding the garden and at the same time be praying. Our prayers at such times may be silent expressions of barely conscious thoughts. Or they can be silent or verbalised fragments that intrude into our other activities from time to time.

Seeing prayer in this way allows us to have prayer in the centre of our life,not as some separate compartment. We turn our ceaseless thoughts into ceaseless prayer. All those fear-flooded concerns can be converted to prayers. All that glad remembrance can become prayer. All our restless preoccupation can be transformed into prayer. We do this by bringing God into the picture. Rather than just thinking,we think and invite God to hear our thoughts and to shape and reshape them. We turn our interior monologue of thinking into the dialogue of prayer.

This has the benefit of bringing God into the essential threads of our life. It has the benefit of our being able to simply give our thoughts to God and not allow them to become a repetitive cycle of fearful or confused thinking which wearies us. We don’t have to spend most of the day anxiously thinking through things and then at some fixed point giving them over to God in prayer. We can invite God in and so break the negative circuit then and there. Unceasing thinking becomes unceasing prayer.

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David Reay