‘Without Ceasing’: 3 Ways to Be Drawn Deeper Into Prayer This Lent

COMMENTARY: Here are a few ideas of how you might incorporate reflection into your day.

How are you following 1 Thessalonians 5:17?
How are you following 1 Thessalonians 5:17? (photo: Unsplash)

Pray without ceasing. Our lives should be a steady stream of prayers, connecting our earthly realm with the heavenly one, and making space for daily encounters with the divine.

How, then, do we live out this call to constant prayer? I believe there are many ways.

This Lent, consider setting a spiritual resolution to strengthen your prayer life, striving to grow deeper into union with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and, most importantly, with your God.

Here are a few ideas of how you might incorporate prayer and reflection into your day, so as to respond to the call to the lofty call to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Start in the Morning

St. John Vianney said, “Never forget that it is at the beginning of each day that God has the necessary grace for the day ready for us. He knows exactly what opportunities we shall have to sin and will give us everything we need if we ask him then. That is why the devil does all he can to prevent us from saying our morning prayers or to make us say them badly.”

Whether you have time for a Holy Hour, a holy 15 minutes, or even just a holy moment, consecrating your day to the Lord with a morning offering is a powerful practice. Each morning, I am greeted by a barrage of thoughts. So, instead of forcing my brain to submit to silence, I practice turning the thoughts to prayers by sharing them with Jesus. By making a small offering, “All these thoughts, Jesus, I consecrate to you,” the myriad of thoughts, worries, hopes and fears are transformed into an intimate encounter with the Lord. He sees these things in our hearts before we give them to him, but by intentionally inviting him into the moment and welcoming his Spirit, we allow these prayers to become like a holy fragrance, drifting up to heaven, leaving our own surroundings more sweet and more sacred.

Keep It Simple

People often say they don’t know how to pray. While I can empathize with the concept because it is indeed a supernatural endeavor, I have to remind myself that it doesn’t need to be complicated.

Jesus gave us words with which to pray when he taught his disciples the Our Father prayer. If you have no words of your own, start there. Even if you feel you’ve worn those words out, that prayer is never tired.

A great way to use this prayer is in praying the Holy Rosary. In particular, praying the Sorrowful Mysteries is a powerful way to reflect on Jesus’ passion and death during these 40 days, reminding us of the price he paid so that we might have life, and giving us all more motivation to pray.

And picking up a good spiritual read can aid your efforts (see good recommendations in this section), highlighting a pertinent quote that prompts reflection or a needed theological explanation that gives food for thought.

Intercede for Others

The Catholic Church is universal; we know this by her very name. We are deeply connected with humanity, and we are not our own. We are first Christ’s, but we also belong to one another as members of the Body of Christ (Romans 12:5).

There are many ways to foster fellowship with our brothers and sisters, and one of those ways is through intercessory prayer.

When we ask someone to pray for us, or vice versa, this is intercessory prayer; we are placing the needs of another before God and inviting him to intercede in the situation. In striving to pray always, I’ve found intercessory prayer to be a great source of comfort and an opportunity to see Christ in those around me.

As I am walking, running or driving, I pray for the people who pass me. Though I do not know their name or their specific intentions, I pray, “Come, Holy Spirit,” asking the Spirit to rest upon them and to guide them through their day.

When we pray for the humans we brush shoulders with each day, we participate in God’s plan for salvation. Each human being bears the image of God, and the more we recognize this, the more we are able to see the sacredness of each moment in our lives, and we, again, are drawn into prayer and worship.

Pacem in Terris Hermitage Retreat Center in Minnesota offers souls respite with the Lord.

Why You Should Go on a Retreat

COMMENTARY: Seek the blessings of a time of holy rest with Our Lord, for ‘There is no one gentler than God in revealing ourselves to ourselves.’ Every retreat we take is a kind of practice for what we will be doing for all of eternity: worshipping and resting in the Lord.