Praying without ceasing

Lately I’ve been contemplating one of the mandates set forth by St. Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians. At one point he states simply, “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). To me, this had always seemed like a monumental undertaking. How could anyone possibly do something that requires such conscious effort and concentrated thought all the time? 

Praying without ceasing appeared to be a daunting task, fit perhaps only for people like full-time Christian Science practitioners. I couldn’t fathom how I could manage to pray without ceasing if I had so many other things that were clamoring for time and attention every day—including relationships, errands, and an active search for employment. As a recent college graduate, multitasking was certainly not a foreign concept to me. But I didn’t feel that the skill was transferable to something like prayer. Doesn’t prayer deserve my entire, undivided attention? 

As I searched for an answer, it seemed appropriate to reread the first chapter of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. These pages are, aptly enough, devoted to the concept of prayer. I came across this passage: “What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds” (p. 4).

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