Ask Fr. John: To pray without ceasing is an ongoing process

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What does Paul mean when he says “pray without ceasing?” and how do you do it in this world? — E.B.

Paul means we are called to pray ceaselessly. This may seem unreasonable to some but it is nevertheless what we are called to do. Christ calls us to love God with all our soul, all our heart, all our mind and all our strength.
This implies relationship and personal communication. Prayer is simply ongoing relationship with God, communion with him.
If we love God with all our being, we will necessarily strive to pray without ceasing. In other words, to relate to him ceaselessly.
Note the word “striving.” We do not end up there all at once.
The spiritual life is an ongoing process. The Lord also said, “be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”
Is this even possible? God’s perfection is pure love and relationship within the trinity. How can created beings make a beginning toward God’s perfection?
The answer … through prayer. Prayer helps us grow into loving people — lovers of God and neighbor.
The church likens our becoming perfect to steel in a fire. It takes on the fire while remaining steel.
The fire tempers the steel, changing it into something new, something stronger. We strive to love God and to know him. We do this by communicating with him more, thus becoming stronger.
We start out small and we make an effort to grow as the years go by. We make time for God in the morning and in the evening. We protect this time and let nothing interfere.
By the end of our life, we hope to have learned to pray or communicate with God. If it is ceaseless we have attained a good beginning.

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