“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
I have always struggled with this idea of “praying without ceasing” that Paul speaks about here and it seems to be more difficult to grasp the further along this Christian walk I go. How is it possible for me to constantly be in prayer? Growing up, this seemed so much easier but now I find it difficult. I am not alone with this struggle; many other Christians face this issue each day.
For centuries, Christians have wrestled with “praying continually” for a variety of reasons. One issue that I hear people mention is “I just don’t know what to say to God sometimes.” This, of course, makes sense; I mean, talking to the creator of the universe is pretty intimidating. Throughout history, there have been poets and theologians who have written out prayers and we have access to those prayers today for our benefit. I have found a great amount of comfort from prayers from The Common Book of Prayerand Prayers and Meditations of Saint Anselmas well as various prayers from Saint Augustine, Saint Patrick, and Bernard of Clairvaux. However, as moving and poignant as these prayers and meditations are, there still seemed to be a disconnect with me.
That is, until recently.
A few months ago, my wife Emily bought me a book. I had been wanting to get this particular book for a while and when she surprised me with it, I was excited to say the least. The name of the book is Every Moment Holyand it is a collection of prayers and liturgies for everyday life. Some of my favorites that are included in the book are: liturgies for laundering, for the preparation of a meal, for sunsets, before beginning a book, prayers of lament for those who weep without knowing why, for the loss of a living thing, and upon finishing a beloved book, just to name a few.
There is something beautiful in reading prayers from church fathers, but few things have impacted my spiritual well-being more than reading and meditating on the words of these prayers from Every Moment Holy. Being able to capture every second of the day as a “Holy Moment” puts my spiritual life in perspective. This life I live is not my own, the steps that I take do not belong to me, the things that I take part in do not happen because of me; every single second of the daybelongs to God and you and I are lucky enough to play a role in the great story that God is telling. God reigns over everything we do, and when we are able to see him in the most beautiful moments (see “A Liturgy Upon Arriving at the Ocean”) as well as the most non-exciting, mundane moments (see “A Liturgy for the Changing of Diapers”, “A Liturgy for the Ritual of Morning Coffee”, and “A Lament for Missing Someone”) we can tap into that “continual prayer” that Paul talks about.
It is easy to see God when things are great, and, to be honest, it makes sense to cry out to God when we are in desperate moments, but most of our lives happen in the mundane. I would like to encourage you today to look for God in the mundane moments; God is sovereign even over the moments that you brush your teeth, call your family members, and are stuck behind a tractor on the road. This week, find ways to thank God for the mundane.
To close out, I would like to share with you a portion of the “Liturgy of Praise for the King of Creation”:
All of this is true.
But our thoughts of you are still too few,
For our minds are too small,
To conceive of them all,
Let alone to contain them.
You were before all things, you created
All things, and in you all things are
Held together. There is no corner of creation
You will fail to redeem.
You are the Lord of Lords,
And the King of Kings,
O Jesus Christ,
Our King of Everything.
(If you would like to check out Every Moment Holy for yourself, come by my office sometime and I would be happy to share some of these beautiful prayers with you. You can also find the book here).