“pray without ceasing…” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17
So I am reading this book, “The Way of a Pilgrim,” translated by Olga Savin. It is the story of a Russian peasant that is so moved by a sermon on this scripture, that he quits his job, leaves his home, and sets out on a quest to find someone who can teach him how to pray.
Along the way, he encounters a monk that teaches him the Jesus Prayer (Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.) By learning to pray this prayer constantly, he finds his way into experiencing the presence of Jesus at all times. The rest of the story chronicles his struggles, his hardships in staying committed, and the life transformation that comes from mastering this discipline.
When I first began reading it, I admit that my thoughts were that a phrase as simple as this could not possibly have such an impact on me. Forgive me Lord for my arrogance. I too struggle with the question, “How can I pray every minute of the day?”
However, God gave me a moment of clarity this morning. In my own way, I have been praying unceasingly for the last few days without even realizing it.
For those of you that attended Liberty Crossings UMC this past Sunday, maybe you remember a song from the contemporary service, “Jesus Be The Center.” I had such an incredible worship experience through this song (Thanks to Steve Wingo and the Praise Team.) I have not been able to get that song out of my head since that time. I have sung it, hummed it, prayed it, and even noticed it as the background music in my head while doing other things.
The great thing about this song for me, is that I feel the presence of Christ around me when I hear it. I have this complete and total surrender of my heart when I hear that all-powerful name – JESUS. It is a mystical experience for me.
Forgive me, Lord, for ever doubting the transformative power of uttering Your name.
If you didn’t get a chance to hear the song and would like to, below is a link to a youtube video. It looks a little long, but I encourage you to turn it on, close your eyes, and let the words sink into your heart. It is powerful.
So my question for today is: “How do you practice the presence of God? Is anyone else searching for their way of “praying without ceasing?” I would love to hear your stories. Please feel free to share them in the comment section if you feel so led.
As a resource for all the pilgrims on their way, we have a tremendous gift of the Spirit among us. Father William Wilson, a bishop in the Anglican Church here in Birmingham is associated with our church through his beautiful wife, Susan and his children, Will and Sue. Father William spent 25 years as a Benedictine monk with a ministry of Spiritual Formation Director for the monks of his order. In our terms, he knows how to pray!
Father William has generously offered to teach anyone that searches, the practice of Contemplative Prayer. If you are seeking a deeper way of connecting with God, I urge to you take advantage of this opportunity with Father William. You will be blessed.
Anyone wishing to gather more information may contact me: Lana@libertycrossingsumc.org; as we are hoping to put a group together to take the class. Or you may contact Father William directly, firstname.lastname@example.org
May I worship today the only name that brings peace, and healing, and wholeness, and salvation – JESUS CHRIST. Forgive me for not acknowledging the transformative power You have for me. Teach me to pray without ceasing, to call on Your Holy name in all circumstances – that I might continually dwell in Your presence. Please let Your grace flow over me, and lead me to a relationship with You that is deeper still.
In the name of Jesus Christ I pray,