Monday, January 23, 2012

Praying without ceasing

I've been thinking about that call lately - to pray without ceasing.  Many years ago, someone asked me how, with three kids and one on the way, I found time to pray.  I answered then without pausing to think, that I prayed throughout the day, sometimes over the dishes or in the midst of changing diapers, soothing little ones, holding hands with their daddy while on a walk with the family, or doing laundry.  Stoplights are good, too.  That conversation stuck in my head because I hadn't realized at the time what I'd been doing.  Something about the sudden awareness, combined with the sweetness of praying peace and blessing over my people, big and small, while tidying also their more immediate, physical world, managing the quotidian...  Well.  I'm not going to claim that there's a reward in scrubbing toilets that extends beyond the clean toilet itself, but the combination of prayer and acts of service, done in love, with a joyful sacrifice?  The parallels to the big picture life we're meant to lead are stunning to me.  I continue to turn that conversation over in my head and find new things to think about it.

So the phrase has been bouncing around in my head again lately, especially as folks near and far have had a tough time, and sometimes their suffering looks to be taking the day, stealing the bliss out of the ordinary.  I was thinking back over 2010, and how glad I am that it's over.  There was this time, a stretch of weeks, wherein high drama, legal issues, health scares, kid stuff, financial swerves, bad news, and sundry emergencies were popping up not more than 72 hours apart.  It was a lot to take in.  I think right in the middle of all that was when I started pondering those words again.

As to what it means?  How to apply?  Well, I'm not really comfortable throwing out some sort of mandate or absolute, but this is what I think about when I think about praying without ceasing: We're supposed to take care of each other.  Sometimes it's a grace-filled, rich and profoundly rewarding thing, sometimes it's a balancing act, performed with swords and running chainsaws.  But it's the huge, all caps, shout it from the peaks, why of this life.  Jesus modeled it, told stories about it, asked it of us:  Love one another.  Those little spaces of prayer hold up our arms while we're working away, trying to make sense of things.  Those little spaces of prayer blunt the swords and chain saws, and allow grace to fill up and overlay not just the high points of time with our people, but also the disappointments and emergencies, adding to our resilience, enabling us for more than we might have suspected we had inside us.  And during those minutes, hours, weeks, whatever, when it just. keeps. coming?  Wow does that resilience, that focus and connection, wow does that make the difference.

Here's someone I "met" through a friend, someone who has already in her life as a young mom had the full allotment of opportunity to practice resilience and praying without ceasing.  I think she'd appreciate your prayers.


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