“When the Holy Spirit has come to reside in someone, that person cannot stop praying; for the Spirit prays without ceasing in him. No matter if he is asleep or awake, prayer is going on in his heart all the time. He may be eating or drinking, he may be resting or working – the incense of prayer will ascend spontaneously from his heart. The slightest stirring of his heart is like a voice which sings in silence and in secret to the Invisible.”
Isaac the Syrian, 7th Century Syriac Christian Bishop
There are many responses to the Apostle Paul’s “pray without ceasing.” Some treat it like an impossible commandment, others – like an oppressively high standard of holy living, and others – like the wise who’ve gone before us – as the expression of what God the Spirit does in us as we “remain in Him, and His words remain in us.”
I suggest a few good books to start you off:
Answering God, by Eugene Peterson
The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence (17th Century kitchen help)
Prayer: Finding the heart’s true home, by Richard Foster.
Today’s prayer comes from Foster’s chapter on the subject of “Unceasing Prayer:”
“O Lord, my Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth.” The Pleiades and Orion sing your praise. Sparrows and chickadees mimic their song. All creation seems in harmony with you, the Master Conductor. All, that is, except me. Why? Why do I alone want to sing my own melody? I certainly am a stubborn creature. Forgive me.
I do desire to come into harmony with You more fully and more often. I do desire a fellowship that is constant and sustaining. Please nurture this desire of mine with seems so small and tentative right now. May I some day become like the trees which are “planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do no wither. In all that they do, they prosper.”
For Jesus sake. Amen.