Monday, May 18, 2015

Everyday Prayers: Pray without Ceasing

In his first letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul gives us a major challenge: “pray without ceasing” (5:17). It might seem impossible at first. We're all busy people after all. We give our attention to dozens of different things throughout the day. We have the obligation to work diligently and carefully without distractions that could affect the quality of our work or, at times, even risk our own lives and the lives of others. How, then, can St. Paul possibly require us to pray continually? 

There is a solution to this vexing question. In fact, there are several solutions, and we're going to explore of few of them in this post.

First, greet God first thing in the morning, offering Him your whole self and your whole day, all your thoughts, words, and actions, for His deepest intentions (especially the salvation of souls). If you do this every day and really mean it, your whole life actually becomes a prayer. 

Second, set a firm foundation of prayer by setting aside time everyday just to spend with God. Pray the Rosary; prayerfully read the Scriptures; recite your favorite prayers; write in a prayer journal. Try to put your whole heart and mind into your prayer and focus your whole attention on God, even if just for a few minutes. Over time, as prayer becomes more of a habit, expand your prayer time, either adding minutes to your daily prayer break or, better yet, adding more prayer breaks throughout the day.

Third, have a memorized storehouse of short prayers to say throughout the day. Whenever you pause from your duties for a moment, use that moment for prayer. Turn your attention to God and recite an Our Father, a Hail Mary, or a Glory Be. You can also tap into a wealth of the so-called ejaculatory prayers or aspirations that Catholics have been using for centuries. Here are a just a few:

* My God, I love You!
* Jesus, I trust in You!
* Jesus, Mary, Joseph, be my Salvation!
* All for Thee, dear Lord!
* Jesus, help me!
* Thou art omnipotent; make me a saint!
* May my only happiness be to please You, O Infinite Goodness!
* O God of love, give me love!
* God, come to my assistance; Lord, make haste to help me!
* My Jesus, have mercy!
* Comfort me, Mother of God!
* Holy Mary, my Advocate, pray for me!
* Mother of God, remember me!

You can find more of these little aspirations online at the White Lily of the Trinity website and in the Raccolta and other prayer books. Memorize a bunch of them, and make a habit of using them frequently during the day.

Fourth, listen to Christian music. Even if it's only playing in the background, good Christian music can lift you easily and often spontaneously into prayer. 

Fifth, before you begin any new task, take a moment and pray. Ask God to bless your task and guide your hands and mind as you perform it. Offer it to Him to use as He pleases. 

Sixth, practice the presence of God. God is always with us, closer to us than we are to ourselves. When we are in a state of grace, He dwells in our very souls. Remember Him. Develop the habit of turning your thoughts to Him often throughout the day, no matter what you are doing. Talk to Him about your work and leisure, your joys and sufferings, your triumphs and worries. He is, after all, your very best Friend. Treat Him like it.

St. Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing.” Really, God is the One Who commands us to do this, for He inspired every part, every word, of the Bible. Our job, then, is to obey. 

Let us pray:

God, we want to obey Your words. We want to pray without ceasing. Inspire our hearts; turn our minds to You; help us to love You and to long to spend every moment of every day with You. Remind us always of Your constant, loving presence. Lord, teach us to pray. Amen.

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