What It Means To Pray Unceasingly

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, St. Paul writes that we should ‘pray without ceasing.’ That seems like a monumental task. How on earth can one pray without ever stopping? If one were to look at it from the devotional perspective, that is to say, to be on ones knees 24/7 praying rosaries, it would certainly seem impossible to achieve.

I know that in the way of a pilgrim, the main character of the story finds himself saying the Jesus prayer no matter what activity he is involved in and his whole quest is trying to discover what it means to pray unceasingly. On Holy Mount Athos the Orthodox monks can be said to recite the prayer while they work, clean, read and even while they’re talking to another person. Always on their mind, heart and lips is the Jesus prayer.

Yet, to assume that this is what it means to pray unceasingly is foolish in my opinion. To pray unceasingly means to always be aware of the presence of Christ. To always have him on your mind and in your heart. To always be practicing the virtues.

Jesus rebukes his disciples often and in one instance where he comes back to find them sleeping he reprimands them. He asks them to stay awake. To stay awake isn’t simply to keep ones eyes opened, rather, it is to always be detached from the wicked world and be focused on Christ.

When we are engaged in the activities of the world, we are asleep, when we are engaged in the imitation of Christ we can said to be awake. Falling asleep in ones spiritual life means the death of the intellect, will and soul. All of them go limp as a fish.

Yet, when we are awake and in tune with Gods presence and our surroundings, when we are living a Christian life and practicing the virtues, When we are loving God always or loving our neighbour then we become a walking pot of incense. Think about that, when you burn incense it rises as a fragrance to the nostrils of Our Lord. He breaths that in and he is pleased with it.

It is the same with the prayer and Christian life of a humble soul. Always and everywhere he is praying even though he may not know it. He becomes a burning pot of incense and his soul gives off this continuous pleasing fragrance to the Lord.

This is what it means to pray unceasingly. It doesn’t mean always saying the Jesus prayer, that’s certainly one way of doing it. But if your devotional prayer lacks love and a Christian way of living, you’re more or less a walking stink bomb. Not even your devotional prayer goes anywhere.

No, to pray unceasingly requires Love and to actually become another Christ. Then you’ll be praying without even knowing it. When you buy bread, even though God may not be consciously on your mind, you’re praying because your way of life is so pleasing to the Lord that even when the bread is bought and paid for you’re praying all the time. Even when you’re sleeping you’ll be praying.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be on your knees all the time. Now I say to you in the name of Jesus you’re no longer paralyzed so get up, take up your mat and go home. Where is home you ask? The fragrant feet of the Lord and to always be about your Fathers business.

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