“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-19)
St. Paul, in his first letter to the Thessalonians, tells them to pray without ceasing. He also incorporates this with the instruction of “rejoice always”, “in all circumstances give thanks,” and “do not quench the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit moves in response to prayer. However, we may find it difficult at times to “pray without ceasing.” It is tough to comprehend how God expects us to “pray without ceasing” when we have families, careers, responsibilities, and daily life. How could God possibly expect us to pray without ceasing? Here are 5 ways to persevere in prayer while simultaneously living our daily lives:
1.) Prayer doesn’t have to be long: For those of us who have busy schedules, it may seem like a daunting or even impossible task to pray often. Perhaps your prayer life has suffered because your calendar has become full. Perhaps it seems impossible to pray daily because it feels impossible to even accomplish the things you must do on a daily basis. It is not impossible to pray daily, or even multiple times a day. Prayer does not have to consist of an hour each time. (Although that is necessary in order to sustain a strong and healthy prayer life). Prayer could be something as simple as a brief 2-minute prayer in the mornings and concluding with an Our Father or a Hail Mary.
2.) Set a regular time and schedule: We have appointments and meetings marked in our calendars (or alerts set on our smart phones for appointment reminders) yet we seem to not have time for the Lord in prayer. I have found that one of the most helpful things I have done in my life is make my morning and evening prayer time as an “appointment” with God. I treat it as if it were a meeting in my planner or on my calendar and the Lord gets His time with me just as if anyone else that sets an appointment or a meeting I have to attend. When we begin to see it as a necessary appointment and meeting with the Lord as opposed to an “optional” or “if I have time” thing in our life then we are more likely to do it. The more we do it the more consistent it becomes and the more routine it is in our life the more fruit we see from the time in prayer.
3.) Set a specific place where you can be undisturbed: It is important to find a place in your home where you can pray without anyone disrupting you and that may include a quiet place in your living room before anyone else wakes up in the morning. It can also include spending time in an adoration chapel before you go home in the afternoons or even during your lunch break. Your time in adoration does not have to be an hour, unless you sign up for that hour, but it provides a quiet and undisturbed place to pray and spend time before the Lord.
4.) Have a plan to pray during the day: My daily plan of prayer consists of a morning and evening routine prayer daily with a friend and then, as I go throughout my day, I say a Hail Mary when I hear an emergency vehicle pass me. I pray a Hail Mary in my car for whoever the ambulance or fire truck is going to help. I will often pray a Hail Mary for the random person in the vehicle beside me at the red light. When we incorporate small acts of charity (prayer is charity toward others) in prayer for others each day then it begins to become part of our daily life and suddenly we truly do have a consistent heart that is in prayer. One of the easiest says to incorporate prayer into our lives is to make a habit of praying before we eat meals. Even if it is a microwave meal for lunch, pray before eating it and invite the Lord to lunch with you. When we do these small things to incorporate prayer daily then we become people who “pray without ceasing.”
5.) Have someone pray with you daily: It is immensely helpful to have a friend, spouse, or loved one to be committed to praying with you each day. I get together each morning and each evening with my best friend and pray, even though we do it most of the time by phone because we are over three hours apart from each other. When you have someone who depends upon you to do something then it energizes you to do it. When you have someone participating in something with you then it encourages you to continue doing it. The same goes for prayer. If you have someone who wants to grow in their prayer life, or even someone who is strong in their prayer life, who will pray with you on a regular basis then it helps motivate and focus you on prayer.
St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians that rejoicing is tied to prayer. Prayers are connected to giving thanks regardless of the situations we face. Giving thanks through prayer is attached to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Pray….and watch the Holy Spirit move. Come Holy Spirit!