What does "pray without ceasing" mean to you?

By Paul Dion, STL

The title line of this blog post is the source of the burning question for the week.

This sentence comes from Saint Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, Chapter 5, verse 17: "Pray without ceasing." The Catechism of the Catholic Church has 350 paragraphs on the topic of prayer.

What does "pray without ceasing" mean to you?

Let us know what you think. Give us your comment. We will meditate on your answers and post your answers to this blog.

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  1. Anonymous4:08 PM

    To me, praying without ceasing is having the commitment, faith and patience to keep praying to God even if He does not seem to respond. It is a personal relationship with God, just me talking to him, telling him eveything I have in my heart. And even if He does not seem to answer my prayer, my faith tells me He is listening and will answer my prayers in His time, not mine. Thank you for the wonderful reflection opportunity.

  2. Anonymous12:06 AM

    don't be bounded by religion my friend, you can be good without having to serve a higher being.

  3. Anonymous2:14 AM

    It's about making your life a prayer. If the things you do are offered to God, those are your prayers. And if you do all things for God, you are praying unceasingly.

  4. Anonymous11:31 PM

    Hello, Paul, During our daily recitation of the Rosary we are aware of communicating with Jesus and Mary. If we pray the Rosary devoutly, our thoughts do not wonder, and our communication with Jesus and Mary remains open and unbroken throughout, including our recitation of the Hail, Holy Queen.
    To pray without ceasing, is not the repetition of a prayer over and over, but to devoutly keep our communication line with Jesus and Mary always open through our every thought, word, and action. It is blessed to pray the Rosary with true devotion, but to live every second of our life with such devotion, is truly to pray without ceasing. Thank you.

  5. Anonymous11:32 PM

    Well... to me 'Pray without ceasing' means just that. We are constantly bombarded with noise, wherever we go that if I don't at the very least say the name of JESUS in my mind, I can get so off track. I listen to worship music in my car to remind me that I am a Christian while driving too, you know what I mean! I thank God for the beauty of these hot days with the cool clouds up above, the blue sky and it keeps me on solid ground.

    But... then there are other moments when I lose touch with Him, BECAUSE, I let the World get to me and I forgot to put HIM first and instead, let myself be deluded into thinking that it was all about me... It has its own downfalls.

    Then He calls me gently home to be with HIM again. Its a constant prayer that will keep me by the side of Jesus. If I didn't love people so much, I would make a great hermit, but NOT in the desert. IT's way too hot out there! See I still seek my own comfort. I probably would have made a lousy nun too, as that was my first choice till I left Catholic school...

    Well, this one you may not want to share, but I was off track most of the day, couldn't even finish my rosary and something was brought to my attention, via my desk calendar with famous Catholic quotes and it hit home again. So, I am back.

    The beauty of being a Christian is God always takes me back and humbles me and makes me love HIM more than before. I wish I could bottle the love I have for HIM and when I step back away from him, I could just open it up and drink again. OR, He can hit me over the head with it! Silly huh? Take care.

  6. Anonymous11:33 PM

    Service is prayer; prayer is service. Neither can replace the other despite the commonality.

    When I'm driving down the road and some fella whips by me on the right & cuts just in front of me causing me to hit the brakes and I am allowed to think "I'm glad I'm not that important!" I thank God who empowers me.

    When I am doing the dishes while the coffee perks, I am
    grateful to God who gave me such a woman to love and please. When I have heavy time on my hands, am bored or afraid, I breathe in "Lord Jesus Christ son of God" and out "have mercy on me a sinner."

    Intrecessory prayer is dangerous as it implies a willingness to accept at least some of the burden you are asking that another be spared. ..."Alleluia! Bread of Heaven, thou on earth our food, our stay! Alleluia! here the sinful flee to thee from day to day: Interecessor, friend of sinners, earth's Redeemer , plead for me..."

    He took the entire burden of our guilt that we might be free to pray; how churlish to reject the opportunity! "When He was on the Cross; I was on His mind."

    Every breath is grateful. To think that God, "unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no sercrets
    are hidden..." loves us anyway must occasion pray when ever recalled.

  7. Anonymous11:34 PM


    The Catechism of the Catholic Church

    There are only 180 pages on "Prayer" in the Catechsm. I am going to quote one short paragraph because it elucidates why we can exhort one another to "pray without ceasing."

    In paragraph # 2562 we are told that Sacred Scripture mentions thyat prayrs springs from the heart over 1,000 time. Why the heart? Here's why:

    Paragraph # 2563: "The heart is the dwelling-place where I am., where I live; according to the Semitic or Biblical expression, the heart is the place 'to which I withdraw'. The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. it is the place of truth, where we choose life or death. It is the place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation: it is the place of covenenat."

    My contribution

    Yes. Prayer is a covenant between two hearts. God's and mine. That being the case, I am always in prayer. I can say that because I have the experience of being constantly in spiritual contact with my wife and children. Praying without ceasing is nothing more than living every moment in the presence of God. Praying every moment saves us from a lot of grief. It also gives us some safety valves in life. A few examples:

    1. The rosary is a way of meditating on God and His relationship with us through His mother. It is a soothing meditation. It calms us down and shows us that peace and joy are within reach.

    2. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass puts us into the presence of God at a different level and requires a lot of engagement on our part. The rewards are great. This is our sustenance in the Christian life.

    3. The conversational prayer can take several forms: Thanksgiving, reconciliation, love message, adulation, adoration, complaint... complaint? Sure, why not? The Bible is a treasure trove of complaints addressed to God. Didn't Jesus ask, "Father, why have to abandoned me?" Jeremiah asked, "If you were going to make so hard on me, why did you place me in my mother's womb?"

    4. The prayer of intercession is an interesting one. Jesus' coming to earth is one, full-blown intercessory prayer. Like Dennis said in his response (The last one on the bottom), when we pray in intercession for someone, we have to be ready to take on some of the burden that will be relieved from the object of our prayer. Now that is true sacrificial discipleship.

    The Jewish mother who had a very bad week, flooded toilet, bad transmission in the car, failing grades on Noah's report card and now, one hour before sundown on Friday the oven goes on the blink. She looks up and says, "ENOUGH!"

    I can honestly say that I have experienced the conseuquences of not "praying without ceasing" in my life. It is when my heart was no longer in relationship with God in the covenant of prayer. That is a moment when we encounter life changes that we bring about by ourselves, outside of God's plan for us. These moments turn out to be less than the highlights of our existence on earth.

    Do we recover? Yes, we recover. Does God stick by us? Yes, He does. He always gets his way when we let him into our hearts. When we let God have His way with our hearts, we are praying "without ceasing".

    As you read this, relate what is said here to the process of joining the Catholic Church. You will notice that it is not an intellectual exercise. It is an exercise of the heart. It is an exercise of a change of heart. It is the process that you have engaged whereby you have decided to try giving God His way with your heart.

    When we do that, and we do surrender, we come to understand why Catholics believe that this way of life is indeed the Kingdom of God.

  8. Anonymous12:08 PM

    first of all true prayer is done in sprit. praying in sprirt is much different than saying and repeating phrases that we learned when we were young. when praying connected to the holy sprirt you open a line of conversation with God. sounds crazy to some but you can hear him and feel in your sprirt within. that moment does not have to end the moment you leave your house or go to work. you can stay connected to God all day, all the time. the other phase of praying is that it has to be done in faith. it sounds obvious especially if you believe that you are in communication with God. this is why the world doesn't really understand the meaning of prayer. keep those line of communication open with God and you will live a life of prayer without ceasing.