Monday, October 18, 2010
Blog # 82 PRAY ALWAYS
Blog # 82 PRAY ALWAYS "... never cease praying..., ; such is God' s will for you in Christ Jesus." Those words come from St. Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 5 verse 17. The words "never cease praying" could just as well have been given as "pray always". What could Paul have intended to say when he told the Thessalonians to pray always? Every day? No, that is not always. Almost always? No. The only thing always means if you take it literally is always. Taken in this sense it would seem that Paul is suggesting something that would clearly be impossible even to hope for let alone accomplish. In this sense I cannot imagine a monk or a cloistered nun praying always. What could it mean for a neurosurgeon in the midst of a delicate brain operation that requires every bit of concentration he can muster on the surgery in which he is engaged? It would be an immoral act for a person to be driving along a crowded highway at sixty-five miles an hour with one hand on the wheel and the other holding an open prayer book. Without changing the literal meaning of the word always, the solution comes in the meaning we have for the words to pray. The classic definition of prayer is a lifting up of our mind and heart to God to praise Him, to thank Him, to express repentance for our sins, and to ask His blessing on our life. For many people this lifting up of our minds and hearts is primarily if not exclusively expressed in words. Even to think in terms of words takes time and it would indeed be impossible to pray always if prayer were available only in terms of words or thoughts. An alternative concept of prayer could be formulated by understanding it as living in the Presence of God. Since God is our Creator always and everywhere, this notion of prayer can be realized at all times and wherever we may be. So, however, only if we will it. Logically therefore the best time to guarantee that we will be personally by choice living in the Presence of God all day long is to begin the day by choosing to do so. In the practical order this will mean before the first cup of coffee or the first of any other act but the act of making this choice. Years ago in order to put all of this into practice I formed the habit of imitating Jesus in the way I learned from the letter to the Hebrews ( 10: 5,7) which says: "...on coming into the world Jesus said: "...I have come to do your will O God." By habit now but with new meaning that prayer is the first thought of every day. Then throughout the day reminders come to keep me aware of what I have chosen when coming back to life after the 'death' of sleep. "...Thy will be done..." in the Lord's prayer." When I sit down at the computer to try to figure out what to say in the next blog...Lord, what's next?" When I gather up and recycle scraps of paper left by people on the parking lot of the church and other such simple yet prayerful experiences if done by the will of God by His Presence in me. Then by the end of the day the 17th verse of chapter 10 of the letter to the Thessalonians comes into focus: "Rejoice always, never cease praying, render constant thanks; such is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." "Thank You, Lord" is a fitting prayer to end the day rejoicing in God's will.