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Fr Kirby’s Korner

Jesus, tells us in today’s Gospel to pray unceasingly. Seems impossible by the standard understanding of prayer. Can you imagine our lives if Jesus actually meant that we were to constantly pray out loud? I am imagining a bus ride where everyone was praying out loud unceasingly. The need for noise cancelling headphones would be a must. How about a walk downtown or a visit to an office where everyone was praying out loud unceasingly, a sporting event or even a quiet evening at home. It would be hard to sleep at night as well.

Of course I am joking and of course this is not what Jesus meant.  The common reaction to this statement by Jesus is dismay and an immediate assumption that I can’t. One of the problems we have with this, is our narrow definition of what prayer is. Prayer is so much more broad than the verbal prayers we pray. Prayer is more about our inner dialogue, the unspoken desires and needs of the heart. Prayer is beyond words. Words are ultimate symbols of thoughts, desires and are used to communicate with other humans. Prayers represent more than words, they represent the unspoken inner dialogue with God.

In the beginning dialogue of the preface to the Eucharistic Prayer, we respond to invitation of,  “Lift up your hearts” by responding, “we lift them up to the Lord.” Here is a perfect description of what prayer really is. It is the active and deliberate choice to lift what is in our hearts to the Lord, especially the things that no words can express.

St. Ignatius of Loyola understood this and believed that our active thought, our inner dialogue with ourselves, can be turned outward into an inner dialogue with God. For Ignatius, we go through our day in constant thought and prayer, as we are no longer simply thinking, but having an ongoing discussion with God, A.K.A. “prayer.”

Thinking of prayer this way, it is indeed very possible to pray constantly.   


James Kirby