Desert Wisdom: Continual Prayer

Fixed times of prayer are the “marker points” which bring us back to attentiveness to God, and which train us toward an increase of unceasing prayer—the ultimate goal for any plan or program of prayer.

Bunge rightly notes that the Psalms speak of praying all day long and praying “night and day,” never limiting prayer to particular moments or acts  (p. 75-76).

Years ago, my study of John Wesley’s devotional life led me to coin this phrase, “God does not call us to have a devotional time, but rather to live a devotional life.”  That’s the way I have tried to move spiritual formation in relation to prayer toward Paul’s exhortation to “pray without ceasing.”

At the same time, however, I have never studied the life of any Christian (ancient or modern) who excused himself/herself from fixed times of prayer on the basis of an alleged “I pray all day long” mindset.

I have concluded that when our hearts are disposed to God, we will always see continual prayer as our aim and our attitude, but when we enter into a Lover-beloved relationship with anyone (and especially God), we also look forward to actual times to sit down together for a good conversation.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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