“Pray without ceasing.” — I Thessalonians 5:17
Seems impossible to obtain . . . but maybe there is a way.
Prayer is more than speaking to God. It is communion with God. This communion is far more than words. It is acknowledging God’s presence in our lives.
Several Wednesdays ago my husband’s eye began to bother him. The eye teared as though it was trying to release some foreign matter. He assumed the next day things would improve.
But Thursday brought more tears. The irritation turned to pain. We tried a few home remedies with little success. That night sleep was intermittent. The pain increased and with a night of little rest he was quite ready to go to the doctor.
He checked the doctor’s website and found the office was open from 8 to noon that day. At 7:45 he called and left a message. At 8 he called again, still the recording. 8:15, 8:30, 8:45 were all the same. At 9 we made contact. The office informed us the doctor was not in that day, but there was a technician there. If we came down they might be able to help.
Off we went, making a wrong turn in the bargain, but eventually arriving. Filling out the usual paperwork I glanced up and saw the doctor. I poked my head in the window and he came out. He immediately took us back, made a diagnosis, wrote a prescription and made arrangements to see us the next day.
We were delayed in seeing the doctor by the office’s seeming lack of service. Things weren’t going as expected. In years past I would have been angry at their inefficiency, but I am learning to look beyond what I expect to God’s plan. God was going to use this “delay” to make sure we arrived just in time. If we came any earlier the doctor would not have been there, any later the same, as he was on his way to the airport. This delay caused us to arrive just in time.
That night we used the drops hoping for improved vision and relief of pain. When we went to bed neither had happened. But my husband prayed a larger prayer than just the healing of his eye. He asked God to show him what he was unable to see, to make clear where his vision was currently limited not in terms of physical items, but in larger areas of his spiritual life. He acknowledged that God might have a greater purpose for this event than simply fixing his eye.
When we acknowledge God’s presence and invite him into a situation, our life becomes prayer. I loosen the connection with God when I attempt to handle life on my own. But when I recognize his presence I become attuned to His wisdom and direction, including the timing of a doctor’s visit.
Prayer is more than talking to God, more than listening to God, it is being present with God. God is always present. We become present with him when we acknowledge His presence with us. It is through this process that we live lives of unceasing prayer. We acknowledge He is, no matter what our circumstances.
Recognizing He is present, praying without ceasing occurs, sometimes with words. If I look for God I will see him. If I choose not to look, I will miss his presence. Acknowledging Christ can allow my life to become one of unceasing prayer.
Robin Oren is a Spiritual Director and a member of ESDA.