Prayer, Plain and Simple

“Pray without ceasing…” (I Thessalonians 5:17)  

Seriously? I can barely keep focused 10 minutes. How can I “pray without ceasing?” Answer: expand my understanding of prayer!  

In 17th century France there lived a man known as Brother Lawrence. When Lawrence was denied the opportunity to become a monk he instead volunteered to work in the monastery kitchen and garden. Unable to dedicate his life to study and formal prayer he set out to learn to make ordinary tasks platforms for knowing God. He wrote a book about his experiences called “The Practice of the Presence of God.” 

Lawrence is my patron saint. Not many of us have the privilege of living purely contemplative lives. We are rushed and pushed, rushing and pushing ourselves. Our business is busy-ness so we imagine that if we could wind down, everything would be perfect, including our relationship with God.  

We do need to learn rest. But stress comes with the normal responsibilities God assigns us. The key is not escape, but, as Lawrence learned, to make work our trigger to connect with God.  

Weeding the garden reminded Lawrence to pray and weed his soul. Peeling potatoes prompted him to ask God to cut away his stubbornness. Lighting a candle led him out of the shadows and into God’s presence. Lawrence took everything he encountered and made it prayer. He “practiced” finding God’s presence all around him.  

We can do the same. While brushing my teeth I can ask God to guard my words. As I drink a glass of water I can ask God to refresh my passion for my job. Putting on cloths can remind us to “Put on the armor of God” for the conflicts I’m navigating. Landmarks along the highway can prompt me to pray for people I will encounter and decisions I must make. 

Point being: Distractions can be friendly visual aids for improvising prayer.  

Today, invite God into your noisy times and pepper prayer throughout your day. Be creative and run into your busy-ness. A cup of coffee reminds me… Listening to a news report prompts… Reading a spreadsheet brings to mind…  

Praying without ceasing, without stressing… 

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