How to pray without ceasing
Joseph A. Komonchak March 21, 2011 - 9:40am
Then he said: "All my desire is before you" (Ps 38:9). He doesnt say, "before men"they cant see hearts; he says, "Before you is all my desire." Let your desire be before him, and the Father who sees what is hidden will reward you (Mtn 6:6) For your desire is your prayer, and if your desire is continuous, your prayer will be continuous. Thats why the Apostle said, "Pray without ceasing" (1 Th 5:17). We're not always on our knees, are we, or prostrating ourselves, or lifting our hands, in order to do what Paul says, "Pray without ceasing"? If thats the way we say we pray, I dont think we can do it without ceasing. But there is another, an inner praying without ceasing, and that is desire. Whatever else you do, if you desire that sabbath, you do not cease to pray. If you dont want to cease praying, dont cease desiring. Your continuous desire is your continuous voice. You grow silent if you stop loving. Which people grew silent? The ones of whom it was said: "Because wickedness abounded, the charity of the many grew cold" (Mt 26:12). When charity is cold, the heart is silent. When charity is burning hot, the heart is shouting. If charity always remains, you are always shouting; if you are always shouting, you are always desiring; if you desire, you are remembering that sabbath rest. (Augustine, Enar. in Ps 37, 14; PL 36, 44)[The two references to the sabbath appear because the Psalm-title in Augustine's version read: "A psalm for David: for a remembrance of the sabbath," andhe had already explained that this Psalm of lament was inspiredin part by painful love and desire for a sabbath still to come.]
About the Author
Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.