"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Pray without ceasing. This has got to be one of the most difficult concepts of our faith, does it not? I mean, for most people who have been reared in North America, prayer is something that is done at specific times of day (before meals) and specific times of the week (Sunday worship). So when we are told that we are to "pray without ceasing...for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" how many of us really feel that we can measure up to it?
Throughout most of the year I would say this is quite a difficult task. But during Advent, or to say it a different way, from Black Friday through Christmas Eve; there are so many sensory helps that can lead us into prayer such as, sacred music played over the sound system of your favorite store, greenery and lights hung in city park and on your neighbors' homes, special delicacies being prepared by your favorite restaurants.
Granted, many of these things are being presented to us in an attempt to have us "shop downtown first" or get us in the mood to practice the art of giving, by buying first. But no matter how cynically we think about these things, God can use them to prompt us to be prayerful of preparing to welcome the newborn King. So next time you hear a jazzed up version of "Joy to the World" or take notice of the city's or your neighbor's decorations say a little prayer for the way we've been shown to live and love by our God who sent us Jesus and who sends us so many reminders, especially during December ... I mean ... during Advent.
Ever-faithful God, grant us the wisdom to start praying more. Show us the way to be reminded of your love through our neighbors' attempts at spreading good cheer. May we not give in to the bah-hum-buggery that our more "pious" siblings in faith would wish for this time of year. Instead let us rejoice with all of creation's attempts at bowing down to you, this Advent.
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