3 Ways to Pray Without Ceasing
In the First Letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul writes, “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). This is undoubtedly good advice, and our spiritual lives would be much richer if we were always rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks. St. Paul suggests that this is what God made us for. But this can be a difficult thing to live out practically. We have our daily work and sufferings that distract us, and sometimes, God is just not the first thing on our minds. We are not actively deciding not to pray—it just becomes difficult in the midst of everything else in our lives.
If this sounds familiar, the good news is that you can make some small, gradual changes to keep God always at the front of your mind. Here are a few ways to start.
1. Pray the Angelus.
The Angelus, a prayer of devotion to the Incarnation, is traditionally prayed in the morning (6am), noon, and evening (6pm). In the past in some areas, bells would ring at these times to remind the faithful to pray.
You can start an individual practice of saying the Angelus to remind you to pray at least three times during the day. This regular reminder will get you in the habit of thinking about prayer more often. If you’d like, you can also team up with a friend, family member, or coworker to pray together and hold each other accountable.
2. Offer up your small sufferings.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to think about prayer when you are having a bad day. Once you get in the habit of prayer, however, you will find that prayer really helps you through those difficult times. A good way to start is to offer up your small sufferings to God.
You can offer up the smallest things—a stubbed toe, a traffic jam, a difficult interaction with a friend. When you offer these things up, you simply tell God you are giving your suffering to Him, and then let go of it. Not only will this help you handle difficult situations, it will also train you to think about God more often. The more you do this, the more natural it will be to think of God first.
3. Ask for grace.
It might seem counterintuitive to pray for the grace to pray. But God knows that we need His grace, and He will not refuse it if you ask. When you pray, open your heart honestly to God and ask Him to help you to pray always.
Ask for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Be persistent in your prayer, and he will guide you along this path. God loves you and desires a closer relationship with you, and He will answer when you ask for the grace to love Him more fully.