Monday, October 3, 2011

10 Ways to Pray Without Ceasing

After a long spell of prayer, do not say that nothing has been gained, for you have already achieved something. For, after all, what higher good is there than to cling to the Lord and to persevere in unceasing union with Him? (St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent)

Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
To pray without ceasing seems almost impossible to do. However, there are ways to pray sporadically throughout the day and come close to praying without ceasing.
The problem is remembering. Our daily schedules can be so difficult and crazy that we cannot find the time, much less remember.
It should be easy for me. I work at a church office, for heaven’s sake. I think of God and God-related matters all day. However, doing office work does not always constitute thinking of God.
For example, when I am working on such things as the bulletin, my mind is thinking of type fonts and graphic images and downloads, etc. 
Of course, I try to offer it up – all of my work. But that is not the same as praying unceasingly.
So I have come up with some ideas on how to pray unceasingly – or as often as possible. (This is not a complete list nor is it in any kind of order. Also, a period of silent prayer is important sometime during the day.)

1. Saying the Jesus Prayer over and over - Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.
I first started praying this prayer years ago on the advice of my spiritual director who suggested that it would help me with my depression. He told me to pray it every chance I got. He also told me to shorten it. He said I was already depressed and did not need reminding I was a sinner! So I would pray – Jesus, have mercy.
So I prayed it for months. It got to the point where, no matter where I was or what I was doing, I would start praying it immediately. I needed no reminders at that point. It is a beautiful way to stay in touch with Jesus all day. (and yes, it helped my depression)
By the way, The Way of the Pilgrim, tells the story of a pilgrim who prays this prayer all day everyday after hearing St. Paul's words about praying without ceasing.

2. Alarm on iphone (or similar device that you use) – with a one line prayer that pops up! I have mine set for three times during my work day. When it rings, I usually just breathe in the name of Jesus. At least for that one moment, I am focused on Him.

3. Write a prayer or favorite bible passage on a piece of ppaer, laminate it and use it as a bookmark. Put the bookmark in the book you are reading right now. Or just have it on the table to remind you.

4. Put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror (or your desk at work or wherever) – with a brief prayer or just a reminder to pray.

5. Play a Christian music cd in your car. And be sure to sing along!!

6. Keep a Rosary ring with you. I have one in my car and it is a great reminder to pray the rosary and easier to use. My commute to work and church is 35 -40 minutes so I have time to pray 5 decades of the rosary. Or pray 1 decade at a time on a shorter drive.

7. Liturgy of the Hours – Morning, Evening and Night prayer (Compline).  Pray by yourself or with a group.

8. Morning offering – thank God for the new day and be sure to offer it up to Him. Any prayer will do. Here is a children’s version –
Good morning, dear Jesus, this day is for you. I offer you all that I think, say, and do. Amen.

9. Examen – at the end of the day, look over your day to where you saw God. This is an Ignatian prayer that I seem to be drawn to lately.

10. Journal – write about your life with God. Write Him a love letter. Write a prayer. Write 5 things you are most thankful for that day.

What are some of your ideas to add to the list?

By the way, when I was first thinking about writing this post, I found a similar one by one of my blogging friends, Jean, at Healthy Spirituality blog. I told her I was not copying her post although we have some similar thoughts on the subject. And similar examples, too! Go figure. We are both spiritual directors. Please be sure to visit her blog and see what she has posted about this!


Colleen @ ID said...

Colleen, a great list, thank you! I made the mistake of pushing the Kindle version of the Way of the Pilgrim to my home desktop and I should have pushed it to my Android instead. I would have read it by now.

Colleen @ ID said...

Wow, I just logged in to Amazon and pushed to my Android. I'll be able to start it today.

mary333 said...

I love your post and your list. The morning prayer for children was simple and beautiful :) I'm going to teach it to Michaela. Thanks!

Karinann said...

This is a great list, Colleen. I say the Jesus Prayer often. I also will pray when I hear a siren go by for those involved and the response workers (police, EMT, firefighters). Sometimes a verse in Scripture will remind me of someone, so I will pray for them. This morning while praying with Magnificat I read the psalm verse: How lovely is your dwelling place O Lord... That verse always reminds me of Fr. Joseph Homick because it is the title of one of his books.
Thanks for sharing this list and the encouragement to pray always.
Hugs and blessings.

Daily Grace said...


This is a great list! My favorite here is Examen, asking myself were I saw God today!


Colleen said...

Colleen, I hope you like that book. I read it years ago and enjoyed it.

Mary, glad you liked my list and I agree that is a great version for kids.

Karinann, thank you for sharing how you pray without ceasing! I do the same when I hear a siren. I love how a scripture will make you think of someone and you pray for them. A great idea! Thanks and God bless!

Daily Grace, I am glad you like this list. I just started doing the Examen recently. God bless!

Jean Wise said...

Great list of ideas, Colleen and thanks for mentioning my blog. I use the examen every night as I go to sleep and even in the middle of the night when I can't

Colleen said...

Jean, great idea to pray the examen when you cannot go to sleep! Thanks!

Heather said...

Great list! I just added The Way of the Pilgrim to my kindle list and joined the online retreat! i am also going to try out the seeting the phone alarm idea, too. thanks for the list!

Colleen said...

Heather, thanks for stopping by and commenting! Glad you like the list. I hope you enjoy the online retreat. Be sure to let me know! There is a comment form at the end. Would love to know your thoughts and ideas.

noreen said...

That is a great list Colleen. So, there's no excuse in saying "I don't have time!" Prioritize is what I need to do!

Colleen said...

Noreen, thank you! I tried that excuse myself - doesn't work. Yes, re-prioritize was the message I got on my retreat! God bless!

Carol@simple_catholic said...

These are great suggestions! I did a post similar to this a little over a year go:

The Way of the Pilgrim is a book I have read many times! It is certainly the perfect prayer for busy moms. :)

Kathleen Basi said...

I like #5.

I wrote a chapter on prayer for my new book on Lent that's coming out the first of December from Liguori. I tried to look at prayer as a more organic than formalized sort of thing--I have come to think that in the chaos and distraction of modern life, every moment becomes prayer if we're constantly whispering, "What next, God? Tell me what to do, God. Help me be patient, God. Thanks for this beautiful (fill-in-the-blank), God." Those snippets of conversation keep us oriented toward God and allow us to hear better, even though the distractions are everywhere around.

Colleen said...

Carol, thank you! I will check out your post!

Kathleen, #5 is one of my favorites too!
I agree with you about prayer. I think perosnal prayer times are important - keeping an appointment with God - but I agree that a running conversation with the Lord, a constant awareness of His presence in everything we do and see and hear all day ... is what we need to do. In the long run, it is all about relationship.
I look forward to your new book. God bless!

ellengable said...

Colleen, this is a wonderful list! I recently spent the weekend at the convent with my sister (a novice at the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville). The sisters' day is one filled with prayer and it made me realize that I needed to spend more of my day in prayer "without ceasing." I do already follow many of these suggestions...taped to the bottom of my monitor is the Scripture passage for Phil 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Thanks again and God bless...

Colleen said...

Ellen, I am glad you like the list. I discovered I needed to do more of this after being on retreat! I love that scripture passage! I lectored Sunday and read that verse! I need to paste it where I can see it too. I don't want to ever forget it. Thanks! God bless!

Barb Schoeneberger said...

Colleen, in St. Faustina's diary she wrote about offering every beat of her heart all night long as prayer, even when she was asleep. I really loved that idea.

Colleen said...

Barb, oh thank you for telling me that! How beautiful that is. I want to remember that. God bless!