I have heard many a reference to Paul’s advice in 1 Thessalonians (5:17) to “pray without ceasing.” I have often thought, as perhaps you have too as new Catholics, how in the world can I do that? After all, I’m running my own business, being a wife, mothering two active boys, grocery shopping… you get the drift of excuses, right? I can barely work in my rosary, praying at night and perhaps a lunchtime prayer.
But I think I figured it out, and it’s all tied up with redemptive suffering, which I’ve talked about in previous posts. Light Bulb moment: We can offer up our entire lives as a prayer to God!
Every morning now, I say a prayer to Mary offering her all my sacrifices, sufferings and good works for the day for her to distribute as needed since she’s the one charged with distributing her Son’s graces. I am working hard to make “little” sacrifices as I can during my day in line with St. Therese of Lisieux‘s “little way.”
Maybe that’s forgoing the cookie I want to eat (by the way, I am NOT so good at this one), accepting a humiliation from someone’s comment, reading that last story to my kids even though my eyes want to close with exhaustion, etc. Moms out there, you know there are a million little “sufferings” we can offer up each day.
Instead of just doing them, though, “offer them up” as a prayer to Almighty God. Let them work for your benefit or for another’s. Put them to good use!
And any good works you do that day — perhaps stopping to help someone or just offering a smile, earning a plenary indulgence, folding the laundry with care and love, or all small acts of charity — put those to work too.
I think perhaps this is what St. Paul means when he says “Pray without ceasing.” It would be impossible as humans, especially those of us living in the lay world, to verbally pray constantly. But who says prayer needs to be verbal? Let’s let our actions — our professional work, our family activities, our household duties, our kindness — all of it serve as a prayer to God.
By dedicating these things to God, you’re also likely to be more aware of what you’re doing and less inclined to sin. It’s a win-win!
What do you think? How do you pray without ceasing?