February 2, 2022

Pray Without Ceasing

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Psalm 34:1
In some religions—or in certain sects of our own religion—the number of times a person is to pray is appointed, often down to the exact time of day prayers are to be performed. This is, I suppose, a good discipline—but can just as easily fall into soullessness as does no prayer at all. In either case, the heart has been removed from the relationship with God, replaced in the one case by obligation and in the other by indifference.
Though the Bible in a number of places speaks of the number of times a day a person prays (mentioning different numbers in different places) or certain times a day a person should pray, the point is not legal obligation, but continual communication with God. Augustine put it this way: 
Our author calls those numbers legitimate which holy scripture more highly favors such as seven, or ten, or twelve, or any of the other numbers which the diligent reader of scripture soon comes to know. Now numbers of this sort are often put for time universal; as for example, 'Seven times in the day do I praise thee,' means just the same as 'His praise shall continually be in my mouth.' And their force is exactly the same, either when multiplied by ten, as seventy and seven hundred.

To stop what I'm doing in order to pray is a good thing. But an even better thing is, regardless of what I'm doing, to be in communication with God, to have a heart that is open to the urgings of God's Spirit.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.
 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
O God within me, give me grace today to recognize the stirrings of thy Spirit within my soul and to listen most attentively to all that thou hast to say to me. Let not the noises of the world ever so confuse me that I cannot hear thee speak. Suffer me never to deceive myself as to the meaning of thy commands; and so let me in all things obey thy will, through the grace of Jesus Christ my Lord.
 John Bailley, A Diary of Private Prayer
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After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.
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Text selection ©2021 Evangelische Brüder-Unität. All scripture quotations from the New Revised Standard Version, unless otherwise noted.