Spiritual Practice

Prayer without Words

Richard Lawton

“Pray without ceasing” surely doesn’t mean that we should pray with words twenty-four hours a day! Perhaps Paul, the writer of Thessalonians, is exaggerating to make a point. More likely, he is telling us to live with a prayerful attitude, in a constant relationship with God.

Pray without ceasing.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NRSV)

We are living prayerfully when we

+ treat other people in a loving way, as Jesus would;

+ notice and feel gratitude for the sights and sounds of nature around us;

+ think about God and are amazed by God’s goodness;

+ read the newspaper to a blind person, send money to storm victims, shop for someone who is homebound, volunteer with a mission team, tutor a refugee;

+ contemplate in silence who God is, what God has to do with our lives, and what God might be saying to us.

With words, we voice our concerns to God. We give thanks, confess our faults, pray for others, and express our love to God. Words are important, but prayer is more than words.

Journal: Look back over one day in the last week. Write about how you lived prayerfully and about how you might “pray without ceasing” tomorrow.

—from devozine (November/December 2011). Copyright © 2011 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved.
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