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Pope Francis explains how to “pray unceasingly”

During the General Audience Pope Francis reflected on the need for perseverance in prayer, and considered St. Paul's message to Christians to “pray unceasingly.” 

He referenced the writings of the Greek ascetic monk Evagrius of Pontus to remind us that by balancing work and prayer, we “keep the fire of divine love burning daily in our hearts.”

The Pope explained that it is in constant prayer that “every action of our lives finds its deepest meaning.” He also urged Christians to carry in their hearts a phrase from the 19th -century Russian book “The Way of a Pilgrim:” “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”


"Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our continuing catechesis on prayer, we now consider the importance of perseverance in prayer. Reflecting on Saint Paul’s encouragement to pray unceasingly, the Church’s spiritual writers have questioned how it is possible to remain in a constant state of prayer.

The Russian ascetic tradition developed the prayer of the heart, based on repeating the words, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” until they become like the air we breathe.

The Greek monk Evagrius compared prayer to a flame burning perpetually in our hearts even as we carry out our daily tasks. Prayer thus becomes the backdrop against which every action of our lives finds its deepest meaning. If God can find time for each of us, surely we can find time for him!

The monastic tradition teaches the spiritual fruitfulness of balancing prayer and work. By maintaining that balance in our own lives, we too can grow in our union with God and keep the fire of divine love burning daily in our hearts.

I cordially greet the English-speaking faithful. I invite everyone to grow in a spirit of constant prayer, capable of uniting our daily lives and making them a sacrifice pleasing to the Lord. Upon you and your families I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!"