Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pray Continually

That's what Paul writes as an exhortation in a letter to the Thessalonians. It's a pretty daunting task, if you really think about it. If prayer is viewed in the bowed-head, eyes-closed, hands-folded, "dear God...insert spiritual stuff here...in jesus' name, amen" sort of way, then the reality of praying continually becomes nearly impossible.

Why is this? Perhaps it's because prayer is often viewed as a singular compartmentalized event, a parenthetical act separated from everyday life. We prepare our meal, we pray, we eat. We sing songs in church, we pray as a transition, we hear a sermon. What if we prayed while we prepared and ate? What if we viewed an entire church service as a worshipful prayer to God?

Maybe prayer is less like a one-time event and more like a lifestyle posture. Maybe it's less like making a phone call to God and more like being aware of what God is actively doing in every moment. 

Maybe it's less like a date with God--dates, even the best ones, have a beginning and an end--and more like a marriage with God--an ideal marriage is a lifelong commitment that becomes a central theme in one's identity, lifestyle, and decisions. I don't stop loving my wife simply because I'm away from her or busy with some work; she's in my mind and heart all the time, and every action I take runs through the grid of "how can I love my wife?" It's about being in a loving relationship, in tune with one another and sharing everyday life together.

Perhaps that's why God calls His church a "bride." Perhaps that is what it means to "pray continually."

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