The other day, I was giving a practice spelling test to my 10 year old. He had to spell the words, "cease" and "seize." To differentiate the sound, I used them in a sentence. "Seize the day!" and "Pray without ceasing." Alexander asked, "what does it mean to pray without ceasing?" I embraced the parent teaching moment! (I love these moments.)
However, I was stumped. How do I explain what it means to pray without ceasing? I began by explaining how we had already built prayer into our lives: before meals, on the way to school, and praying a Hail Mary every time we go up or down stairs. Then we brainstormed ideas on how we could add more prayer into our lives. I told him that this meant we would 'pray without ceasing' because we prayed throughout our day.
"Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
When I look at this verse, I am struck not just by the constant necessity of prayer, but by the emphasis on giving thanks. I graduated high school over 20 years ago, but I still remember my high school teacher teaching us to pray in ACTS.
A - Adoration (praising God),
C - Confession (confessing our sins/admitting that we are a sinner),
T - Thanksgiving (giving thanks to God), and
S - Supplication (asking God for what we want/need in accordance with His will.)
This form of prayer is one that can guide even the weariest of souls to build prayer into their days. In Luke 11, one of the disciples asked Jesus how to pray. This is when Jesus taught the Our Father. "Praying without ceasing" can seem daunting, but if we build it into our routine, then it will become manageable and bring an unparalleled sense of joy and peace, removing anxieties.
During this time of Advent and Christmas preparations, let us not forget to acknowledge our established routines of prayer - even if it is only praying before meals. I challenge you in these last weeks to brainstorm new ways to add prayer into your day. Joy and peace will come out of prayer, and isn't that what we all need a little more of these days?