Thoughts for the Day: Praying Unceasingly

Back in 1977-78, Fr. Henri J. Nouwen was the resident scholar at the North American College. I was living there at the time, so I got to see him frequently and to listen to his lectures on various topics over the course of the year. He collected all those lectures and published them in a book he entitled, Clowning in Rome. I would encourage you to buy a copy if you can find it in print.

There was a part of one of the lectures where he spoke of praying unceasingly. I recently reread it and used it as a foundation for my homily last night at the parish, where I presided over a Holy Hour that included Exposition and Benediction.

Nouwen had said that prayer is not introspection, an effort to plumb the depths of our thoughts so as to analyze them and purify them. No, rather prayer is the offering of all our thoughts to God in conversation. It isn’t so important what we think when we pray, but what is important is that we offer all our thoughts, dreams, fears, concerns, distractions and temptations to God. Jesus never withheld anything from the face of his Father. Each and every moment of his life, he offered all that he was to the Father who loved him and knew him. So too need we so offer our inner lives to God. This is no task for the timid, for it requires a great vulnerability and willingness to be exposed to God for all that we are. It is a great act of faith and hope.

Prayer, then, is not a fearful monologue with ourselves; it is not an anxious attempt to think only of God and of holy things. Rather, prayer is a fearless offering of our entire inner life to the Father in the hope and firm belief that he will make all things new if we expose it to the light of his love.

Prayer is a conscious living in the presence of God at all times and places. It is not a portioning of time or energy, to the exclusion of the mundane aspects of life, from the God who surrounds us with his love and presence.

How many of us when we pray do so anxiously? How many of us see it as a discipline of the mind in which we try to suppress certain thought or affects and in doing so hide them from God?

Might we pray better is we simply took whatever was there within us and placed it at the feet of the Father?

A simple handing on of the reality of who we are at any given moment to the Holy One who loves.

If we can nurture that internal prayer posture, we might be closer to doing what our Lord Jesus has asked us to do, pray unceasingly!

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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