I’ve always liked the idea of praying without ceasing. But this ideal can be different from the reality. Sometimes it can be difficult for me to maintain focus or direction. Thoughts don’t always come easily. That’s when I try to pray without getting stuck—to pray without seizing. An experience with one of my address books has helped me find a new way to explore this prayer practice.
Recently I was searching through my cellphone contacts list—a kind of address book—for information about a specific person. I realized that the list also included many of the people I’ve known over the years. Colleagues, relatives, neighbors, service providers, new friends. Dear ones with whom I haven’t been in contact for years. As I scrolled through their names, memories of positive experiences called to mind the stories and cherished relationships that have shaped much of my life.
I found my thoughts about these people trending toward prayerful matters. Concerns for their well-being, curiosity about their lives and gratitude for these good folks. It occurred to me that these contacts could become a kind of prayer list. That this address book would invite the pleasant discipline of forming prayers of thanks for the people with whose lives I have been intertwined.
This practice is familiar to pastors and teachers. Some of them include in their prayer lives the deliberate task of praying for each member of their congregation or class over time. This ritual helps them hold members or students dear to their hearts.
This person-centered praying could be a good spiritual discipline for me, too. These people are reasons for gratitude! Perhaps I’ll start now, with Thanksgiving Day as a reminder and motivation. And would this work for you? If so, our address book(s) will help us pray without ceasing….
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