A few posts ago I made the comment that we often avoid or put off prayer because we think we do not have time for it. I believe that this is due in large part to a complete misunderstanding of what prayer truly is.
Let me just say at the outset that I believe that we must come apart for times of concentrated, on-your-knees, fervent prayer times. It is vital to the Christian life to find time to do this. I have been blessed beyond measure by finding a solitary place - be it a porch in the wilderness, a chair in my bedroom, or a chapel in a church somewhere - to pray, to breathe, and to listen.
I believe these rare moments of solitary prayer are fortified by the day-to-day, moment-by-moment prayers we offer to God as we draw each breath. Much of my prayer time is like this. I think of a person or situation that concerns me or brings me joy and offer a quick (or sometimes not-so-quick!) prayer to God. I am convinced this is what it really means to "pray continually." Doing so purifies our thoughts, halts our worries, and can even bring us joy.
So, why do we not do more of this? I can say with confidence that I am a much more joyful, peaceful person when I approach each day this way. The opposite is true when I fail to do so. Without constant prayer, I find myself much more worried, stressed, depressed, and frustrated.
I propose an experiment. Say a simple prayer at the start of each day (or as you are reading this, even!) for the next week. Ask God to guide your heart and thoughts to Him, to "take captive every thought" to Him (2 Cor. 10:5), and "fix your eyes" on Him (Hebrews 12:2). Write your own brief prayer and memorize it. Use it to bookend your day for the next week and see if you don't find yourself praying constantly throughout the day because you've given it to God. I personally need to enter into this experiment. I don't know why I ever get out of the habit of doing this. I can always tell when I have broken the habit. Unfortunately, so can everyone else!
Godspeed to you as you seek to "pray without ceasing" this week!
Here are a couple of brief prayers I find myself praying all the time. I'll post more from my extensive collection (I love the saints!) in the next few days. Enjoy these...and post any of your own!
"God of your goodness, give me of Yourself, for you are sufficient for me." - Julian of Norwich
"Eternal God, my Sovereign Lord, I acknowledge all that I am, all that I have is Yours. Give me such a sense of Your infinite goodness that I may return to you all possible love and obedience." - John Wesley