Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11;(Psalm) Luke 1:46-50, 53-54;1 Thessalonians 5:16-24;John 1:6-8, 19-28
3rd Sunday of Advent
Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
Without ceasing? At all? Obviously, Paul is not talking about praying all day long. Rather, he is calling us to faithfulness in prayer and asking us to develop a prayerful disposition for our lives. Paul knows that prayer is the best way to stay close to God, so it’s worth scheduling time every day to make sure we are coming into God’s presence.
Think about the way you breathe. Your lungs work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. They never stop, whether you are aware of them or not. If your lungs were to fail, you would die. Likewise, if you lose your prayerfulness, you will die. If external residue, like smoke, enters your lungs, breathing becomes more difficult. Similarly, when sin comes into us, it makes prayer more difficult. That’s why repentance is so valuable. It clears up the damage caused by sin and makes prayer easier.
Praying without ceasing means getting into the habit of praying a few times during the day: when you wake up, when you go to Mass, before lunch and dinner, and before bed. One psalm even tells us to pray seven times a day (Psalm 119:164)! Of course, this doesn’t always have to be a structured prayer time! Rather, it means trying to maintain a spirit of prayer. If we could just stop a few times during our day and turn to the Lord, we would be amazed at the difference it makes. Jesus is our best example of this. Whether he was performing a miracle, preaching a sermon, or arguing with his opponents, he kept his mind on his Father.
Finally, praying without ceasing means living in a way that is consistent with our prayer. Caring for others, being just, developing our talents, doing good for other people, and helping the poor—these are all valid ways that we can continue to pray without ceasing.
That doesn’t seem too hard!
“Lord, help us become a praying people. May we stay close to you in all circumstances until you come in glory!”~WAU