Prayer That Never Ends

This is the 42nd blog in a series exploring various aspects of “prayer.”  The first blog is “Why Pray?” and the previous blog is Prayer as Prayer as Relationship with God (VI).

St. Paul famously said that we should pray without ceasing.  And while this teaching was seized upon by the spiritual champions in Orthodoxy, that phrase about prayer occurs in a sentence which commands constancy in joy and thanksgiving as well, though these other elements are not as often mentioned in the spiritual literature.  To quote St. Paul in context:

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”   (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

In their book, IN THE SPIRIT OF HAPPINESS, the Monks of New Skete commented:

“Unceasing prayer, then, is not a technique.  To isolate Saint Paul’s admonition, to take it out of its context, does violence to his intent.  Surrounding the admonition are two other exhortations that express how he conceived unceasing prayer:

Be happy always:     Greet everyone and everything openly and cheerful, even in adversity.  Sing together joyfully.

Pray without ceasing:    Don’t forget to pray; be open to God’s presence.  Don’t stop praying together just because difficulties arise, or when everything’s fine.  Pay attention and avoid distractions.

Be grateful in all circumstances:    Be generous and appreciative, find something positive, even during reversals and setbacks.  Display your unity and heal your divisions by giving thanks in prayer and eucharist.

For this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; translation New Skete) “     (p 188)

And while the exhortation to pray without ceasing became a way of life for monastics, it was not envisioned as being a way of life only for monastics.  St. Gregory Palamas (d. 1359AD) says:

“Let not one think, my fellow Christian, that only priests and monks need to pray without ceasing and not laymen. No, no; every Christian without exception ought to dwell always in prayer.”     (Prayer Book – In Accordance with the Tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church , kindle Loc. 3605-8)

Origen (d. ca 254AD) back in the 3rd Century said:

“He prays unceasingly who combines prayer with necessary duties and duties with prayer.  Only in this way can we find it practicable to fulfill the commandment to pray always.  It consists in regarding the whole of Christian existence as a single great prayer.  What we are accustomed to call prayer is only a part of it.”     (Olivier Clement, THE ROOTS OF CHRISTIAN MYSTICISM, p 212)

Next:  Prayer That Never Ends (II)

4 thoughts on “Prayer That Never Ends

  1. Pingback: Prayer as Relationship with God (VI) | Fr. Ted's Blog

  2. Pingback: Believe!!!!! « Sex, Spirit, Soul Mates and Chocolate….Ivonne's Journey

  3. Pingback: Prayer That Never Ends (II) | Fr. Ted's Blog

  4. Pingback: Praying the hours « Butterflies and Bunny Rabbits

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