Pray without Ceasing

prayingPray without Ceasing
Johann Christoph Blumhardt
The words “pray without ceasing” are not to be understood in the way we usually think of prayer. For this would mean that we should incessantly be on our knees before God, addressing him with prayerful words. Then the statement would be in direct contradiction to the Lord’s command not to use many words when we pray.
This simply cannot be applied to the way we usually pray. For “pray without ceasing ” is too strong an expression to be translated by words like “pray frequently and diligently” or “pray as often as you possibly can.”
“Without ceasing” implies something more? It can only be understood as the turning of the human spirit toward God in prayer.
Here one can say that what should be present without ceasing is a prayerful and beseeching, supplicating attitude; one might say that there should not be a single moment when God does not find us praying to him as if we stood physically in his presence.
There is a different kind of prayer without ceasing; it is longing. Whatever you may be doing, if you long for the day of everlasting rest, do not cease praying. If you do not wish to cease praying, then do not cease your longing. Your persistent longing is your persistent voice. When love grows cold, the heart grows silent. Burning love is the outcry of the heart! If you are filled with longing all the time, you will keep crying out, and if your love perseveres, your cry will be heard without fail.”
-Augustine
David expresses this same thing: “To thee I lift up my eyes, O thou who art enthroned in the heavens” (Ps.123:1). Here also, he compares this raising of the eyes to the Lord our God with the way servants watch the hands of their masters and maids the hands of their mistresses, without a word being said.
This looking upward can be present in every activity and wherever we are, even in the midst of conversation, and even when our mind is occupied with the practical task of the moment. If we undertake or perform a task which separates us from God and prevents us from raising our eyes to him, we can easily lose our bearings.
Only think of the many wrong emotions – so much anger, rage, vanity, envy, pride, greediness, touchiness, as well as unnecessary worry – which would not be there if our souls were directed toward God instead of being concerned with all these things.
Indeed, there is no other rule which costs so little and needs so little effort, but which has such a significant effect on a person’s nature; “pray without ceasing!” is to be understood in the sense of good advice rather than as a veto.
How much protection and safekeeping, how much deliverance from the snares of darkness, how much redemption and response to our need could we experience as a matter of course, with no exertion on our part, if we were to stand before the Lord in prayer in every situation?
Used with permission.