Day 10: Unceasing Prayer - Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools

Day 10: Unceasing Prayer

“See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18

There are highs and lows in the spiritual life, but the most common condition found in the pew at your local house of worship is a general malaise of boredom.

Yet spiritual boredom isn’t necessarily a sign that we’re lapsing in prayer; in fact, it often means we’re maturing. Because the real fight of faith comes on all the ordinary days.

Love is easy at the first and at the last. It’s effortless in the honeymoon stage and as routine as breathing for the old couple decades into a mature love. But all those years in between? Those are the years when love is won and lost.

Like love, prayer comes easy at the first and at the last, but all the years in between are the important ones.

Throughout the whole of the biblical drama and into the early church history, prayer was the anchor of the Christian life. I suspect that when the apostle Paul instructed the church to “pray without ceasing,” he had in mind both a constant state of interior being and an outward, committed, concrete rhythm.

A daily prayer rhythm anchored Temple worship throughout Old Testament history, Jesus’ own prayers during his life on the earth, and was the norm for the first three centuries of church history, after which, sadly, this essential life source was mostly forgotten.

When Jesus rolled out of bed and made his way alone to the Mount of Olives to pray, it was love that drove him there, not a spiritual scorecard. For Jesus, being with the Father was his deepest desire, the source of identity, and only way to true life. God is not taking attendance or issuing grades. This is about love. To order your day according to intimacy with God is the lived intention to keep him as your first love.

To Practice: What anchors your day right now? Possibly your workday demands, the buzz of notifications on your phone, or your email inbox?

What if at the center of your every day, you placed communion with the God who personifies love? What if the waking thoughts of your day were spent dreaming with God—dreams as big as “kingdom come” and as ordinary as “daily bread”? What if you slipped away at midday for a few minutes, because every other force is vying for your attention but only Jesus has your heart? What if you were to spend your commute home or the final moments before you fall asleep at night recounting the magnificent and minuscule ways you saw heaven pierce earth today?

What if fidelity to Jesus is everything, and the way you choose it is as simple as prayer?

From the Book: