A Conversation With God
I Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing . . .
At the local jail, we were recently discussing prayer, when Ron told me that he was uncomfortable praying in front of others as he did not know how to pray. He said his only experience with prayer was simply talking to God all day, carrying on a continual conversation about whatever was on his mind. I felt that was a pretty fantastic way to commune with God and told him so. Emboldened, he went on to pray the most honest prayer I have ever heard, simply pouring out his concerns to God.
When Paul, in today’s passage, told me to pray continually, I like to think he was not just using hyperbole and that he actually meant that my life is to be perpetual communion with God. Though I am miserable at it, I set out daily to carry on a running conversation. It is not that I have that much to say, it is simply that I desire to keep my focus continually on God, not me.
I used to envision unceasing prayer as something only a mountain-top monk could do, abandoning the world to maintain a singular focus on God. It is much closer to Paul’s intent though, not for me to abandon my daily responsibilities, but rather to learn to focus on God even in my daily responsibilities.
I know that I can get through my day with my focus on me. It is natural to perform my daily duties while looking to my own interests. I have to believe that through discipline, I can learn to accomplish the same tasks, while looking at God instead of self.
Praying without ceasing, is not yet one more step I must perform in the Christian life. The continual conversation is how I fulfill Jesus command to deny self and follow Him. My own nature pulls incessantly at my gaze, but in perpetual communion with God, I discipline myself to keep my eyes not on me, but on Him.