Pray without ceasing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NRSVUE)
In a recent conversation with a new friend in her late twenties, the topic of prayer came up. Being mindful of the unspoken expectations, assumptions, and authority that accompany the title of Reverend in front of my name, I decided not to prattle on about my evolved theology on prayer. Instead, I opted to invite her thoughts on the matter. Doing my very best not to come across as quizzing her, I asked as casually as possible, “What does prayer mean to you?”
“To be honest, I don’t really believe in prayer,” she answered without missing a beat, making me realize all my precautions weren’t needed. “It’s not that I don’t speak with God. I do. All the time, actually. Whatever’s going on, we talk about anything.”
My face must’ve expressed my intrigue because she continued, “I never say, ‘Amen.’ When I’m done saying what I need to say, I tell God, ‘I’ll never stop talking to you’ because I’m committed to the relationship.”
All three of my advanced theological degrees did not prepare me for such a rich, profound, and actionable understanding of this scriptural snippet to pray unceasingly. Who even knows how many other opportunities I’ve missed to grow deeper in my spiritual health because of my theological knowledge and the privileges that come with it?
Indeed, I would do well to heed my young friend’s wisdom and weave it into my life without feeling the need to “make it sacred.” It already is. And I can just chat right from wherever I may be. Just as I am. Readying myself for who God will have me be.
No matter what I’m navigating, I’ll never stop talking to you.