St. Paul tells us, “Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance making supplications for all the saints.” For “we have not been commanded to work, to keep watch and to fast constantly, but it has been laid down that we are to pray without ceasing.” (Thes 5:17, Eph 6:18)
That’s a tall order.
Not only are we called to pray constantly, but on top of that, the Church teaches, we must have tireless fervor that stems from persevering love. (CCC 2742)
We’re called to be people of hope – hope in Christ and in his promise of Eternity if we accept him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and follow in his footsteps.
That’s not always so easy to do.
With things coming at us from all sides – obligations, struggles, discord, hardship, and the like – we can be tempted to let prayer slide amidst the busy-ness. But that’s exactly the time when we most need to slow down and spend some time with the Lord in quietude and prayer. Having tireless fervor and persevering love doesn’t mean that our prayer lives are perfect. Rather, it means that we keep a it, imperfect though it may be, out of love for the Triune God.
What does that look like in practice?
Three Life-Giving Facts About Prayer
I looked up prayer in the Catechism. There’s a ton of excellent information there, too much to absorb in a single sitting. However, one section caught my eye and drew me in. It was the section on “three life-giving facts about prayer.” (CCC 2743-2745) In a nutshell, isn’t that what we all want our prayer to be? Life-giving?
Here’s what I found:
1. It is always possible to pray. St. John Chrysostom once said, “It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop…while buying or selling…or even while cooking.”
2. Prayer is a vital necessity. St. John Chrysostom also said, “Nothing is equal to prayer; for what is impossible it makes possible, what is difficult, easy… For it is impossible, utterly impossible, for the man who prays eagerly and invokes God ceaselessly ever to sin.”
3: Prayer and Christian life are inseparable. The goal of both is to conform to the Father’s will for us and to become more and more like his Son. Origen wrote, “He ‘prays without ceasing’ who unites prayer to works and good works to prayer. Only in this way can we consider as realizable that principle of praying without ceasing.”