We continue our journey into our self-examination of our personal discipleship today by considering the concept of unceasing prayer. Previously we have considered daily personal prayer, Bible reading that is done in a prayerful way, and last week we looked at formal Bible study. All of these spiritual practices contribute to our relationship with our Lord, and you will recall that our thesis for this journey was that we can only share with others from our overflow of relationship with Jesus. So, if there is no overflowing from our relationships, then we will have nothing of Him to share with those whom we are trying to disciple.
To pray unceasingly is a fairly advanced thing to do, for most of us are lucky to remember to set some time aside to pray at all. While a quiet prayer time every day is essential to our relationship with the Lord, it is the beginning of the process, not the end of it. As we continue through the day, there is nothing that keeps us from silently praying as go along. I once heard that someone had asked their pastor if it was OK to smoke while praying. As the story goes, the pastor replied that no, it was not all right to smoke while you pray, but it is all right to pray while you smoke.
Obviously, this is a dated story, but it tells of an attitude that is important to grasp: When we set time aside for God, we must give Him our full attention, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t talk to Him in other situations. Talking silently to God as we walk down the street, drive to work or wait for the bus, asking questions, making requests and just giving thanks and praise are great ways to be filled with His presence, and it is a great way to keep our minds focused on things that are truly important. To help this along, I also like the idea of taking a few minutes in the middle of a day to read a short text, say from the Psalms, just to keep some focus. This is particularly helpful if you have a stressful job, to relax and get your head straight again. I have found that this helps me keep calm, relaxed and seeing things in proper perspective, rather than just letting stress turn to frustration and frustration turn to anger.
As you go through the next several days, give these things a try if you aren’t already doing them. Yes, it may feel a little bit strange at first, but develop the habit, and I think you’ll see your stress level drop and your priorities more in line with God’s priorities… and you may also find that your relationships with other people may be much better, for it is difficult to be irritated with someone when you are praising God!
Next Journey post will move into some of the expressive spiritual practices, so be sure to join us!