St. Hilary compares what the Prophet says about meditating on the Law day and night with what St. Paul says about prayer:
Parallel to this passage are the words of the Apostle, Pray without ceasing (1Thess 5:17). As though we were bound to set at naught our bodily requirements and to continue praying without any interruption! Meditation in the Law, therefore, does not lie in reading its words, but in pious performance of its injunctions; not in a mere perusal of the books and writings, but in a practical meditation and exercise in their respective contents, and in a fulfilment of the Law by the works we do by night and day, as the Apostle says: Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (1Cor 10:31). The way to secure uninterrupted prayer is for every devout man to make his life one long prayer by works acceptable to God and always done to His glory: thus a life lived according to the Law by night and day will in itself become a nightly and daily meditation in the Law.
Yesterday I suggested that reciting the Jesus Prayer at transitional points in our daily lives can be the beginning of meditating upon the Law by day and night. The same holds true for St. Paul’s command to pray without ceasing. The goal is not to sit in front of our icons 24/7 without either sleep or without food — such an endeavor would be detrimental to our bodies, which are an integral part of who we are. Rather, as St. Hilary clearly states, the goal is to make our entire lives and the way we go about living it a living, breathing prayer.
If we go to sleep at night angry or worried or thinking about the things in life we covet, we dedicate the time we sleep to worldly and sinful things. If we slave away at our jobs solely for the money it brings so that we can purchase that one thing we think will make us happy, or make us better than our neighbor we dedicate that time to worldly and sinful things. If we drive our cars from one place to the next desperately trying to find that one right song on the radio, angry that the person in front of us is going too slow or that this or that person cut us off we dedicate our transitional time to worldly things and sin.
When we introduce the Jesus Prayer into these places and into these times, we can begin to let God enter those parts of our lives that we normally dedicate to the world. It is a first step towards seeing every waking moment as an opportunity to transform into prayer — not just by saying the words (or, as St. Hilary says, “not in a mere perusal of books”) — but orienting everything that we do towards God.
Want to get on the internet? Why not make the first thing we do on the internet research on the life of today’s saint? or today’s scripture reading? Want to make a sale at work? Why not treat the potential customer as an icon of Christ rather than a mark? Want to go grocery shopping? Why not treat those who serve you with respect and buy some non-perishable that can be given in charity?
These are the ways we make our life — every moment whether awake or asleep — a prayer to God. The wonder is that this approach to life softens the heart and opens the eyes and ears. As a result, it becomes easier to see how God moves in and through our lives. It becomes easier to see how our actions affect His greater plan for His creation. It becomes easier to understand our own place within that plan.