In his first letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul offered this advice: “Pray without ceasing.” The wisdom implicit in this counsel still rings true today for anyone who is interested in living an authentic spiritual life. It is not enough to pray on occasion, entreating a Higher Power to grant certain benefits to me or others. To be a truly meaningful spiritual practice, prayer must be nonstop.
Now wait a minute; is Paul suggesting that we bow our heads, put our hands together, maybe get on our knees and petition God for something twenty-four hours a day? How could we sleep, eat, work, do anything? No, I believe Paul is advancing a new paradigm for prayer, moving beyond familiar stereotypes.
To me, what he is saying goes something like this: Prayer is a state of constant communion with the Most High, a state of perpetual meditation on the One, an enduring expression of true character. My prayer is what I first and foremost give my attention to, and if that attention is ultimately centered in the truth of who I am (i.e., a representative of the Creator), then my prayer is a constant flow of blessing and thanksgiving into my world.
In other words, my life is a living prayer or a living meditation. There is not one moment in my life when I am not allowing what spiritual evolutionary Marc Gafni described as “a stream of outrageous love” to move through me. I, in effect, become a “blessing machine.” While one might recoil at the idea of being a machine, this is nevertheless the basis of the quality of spirituality that we are meant to practice on Earth.
In a recent gathering I attended where this approach to prayer was considered, one person spoke of how he experiences this kind of prayer when he is doing something that he really loves—in his case, cooking. He said that when he is preparing a meal and working with food he has a strong feeling of being “in the zone,” of being energetically connected to spiritual power. But then, when he is no longer engaged in this activity, the current drops and he disconnects.
I think this is a very common experience. It’s easy to be in the zone and in the state of prayer as I have defined it when we’re doing something that engages our creative faculties or is just plain pleasurable, but when we’re bored or uncomfortable, the connection tends to evaporate. Yet we’re exhorted to pray without ceasing. No matter the circumstance, we remain in the zone, persistently maintaining the divine connection.
I must admit that I have found this to be personally challenging at times. My passion is what I’m doing right now: writing. My office also serves as the Sunrise Ranch post office and I am the postmaster. At times I have been deeply engaged in writing an article, fully in that creative zone, and someone comes to the counter of the post office needing service. Abruptly pulling myself out of that exhilarating flow to wait on a customer used to guaranty a disconnection, and I would reluctantly approach the counter and offer the customer something less than enthusiastic service. Fortunately, I’m doing better with this now, even leaping up from my computer and approaching the customer with a smile, thus sustaining the prayer and the flow of blessing.
Believe it or not, I’ve even found it’s possible to sustain the prayer when I’m listening to the news or to talk shows on the radio, or when I’m watching TV dramas in the evening. In fact, before I turn on my television set, I always offer this prayerful invocation:
“I would bless and enfold all of the images and sounds that come to me now by way of my marvelous television set, and I would engage with the circumstances on the screen with my own integrity and qualities of divine character, as well as supporting, reinforcing and celebrating any expression of divine character that I detect in the people on the screen. May all of this serve to extend an invitation to resonant substance in human consciousness: Come home, my people, to your own integrity, your own angelic nature, and express this in your living.”
It is even possible to continue the prayer in sleep. This is facilitated by a practice commonly used in the spiritual community where I live and probably other spiritual paths as well. I refer to “evening sanctification.” For me this involves reviewing the activities of the day, surrounding them with love and blessing, and inviting this same love current and spirit of service to penetrate my subconscious mind even as I sleep. And so the prayer of blessing continues and dreams that might otherwise be nightmares are taken up in a creative process of useful clearing and ascension.
So pray without ceasing. This is not some idle dream or something only reserved for sages, savants and saints. A life of perpetual prayer is possible. In fact, it is the standard for all who aspire to the highest spiritual calling: a constant stream of blessing. Never a moment when one is not centered in the One, bringing the power of creation, the truth of love and the highest qualities of character into every circumstance encountered in life. And that prayer sends forth a powerful current into the subconscious mind of the body of humanity that invites whatever responsive substance is present there to join in this universal prayer of love.