candle burning in Orthodox Church

“By the grace of God I am a Christian, by my deeds a great sinner, and by my calling a homeless wanderer of humblest origin, roaming from place to place.” – opening words in Chapter 1 of The Way of a Pilgrim

In order to learn how to pray ceaselessly, one must first be willing to do so.  In the story The Way of a Pilgrim, the narrator begins his journey with the point in time when he began to desire to pray ceaselessly.

On the twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost I came to church to attend the Liturgy and entered just as the epistle was being read.  The reading was from Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, which says in part, “Pray constantly.”  These words made a deep impression on me and I started thinking of how it could be possible for a man to pray without ceasing when the practical necessities of life demand so much attention. (Pilgrim, pg. 3)

So, why pray ceaselessly?  Why should we desire such a thing?  The answers to these questions can be better understood with in this short passage also from The Way of a Pilgrim:

… St. Paul clearly states that prayer precedes all actions: ‘First of all, there should be prayers offered’ (1Tim. 2:1).  The Apostle’s directive indicates that the act of prayer comes first; it comes before everything else.  The Christian is expected to perform many good works, but the act of prayer is fundamental because without prayer it is not possible to do good.  Without frequent prayer it is not possible to find one’s way to God, to understand truth, and to crucify the lusts of the flesh.  Only fidelity to prayer will lead a person to enlightenment and union with Christ. (Pilgrim, pg. 8)


Resource: The Way of a Pilgrim. Helen Bacovcin trans. (Image Books: New York), 2003.