PRAY WITHOUT CEASING:
A Methodist is one who has the love of God shed abroad in his heart. By the Holy Ghost given unto him, one who loves the Lord his God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind, and with all his strength. God is the joy of his heart and the desire of his soul which is constantly crying out, 'Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides Thee, my God and my all. Thou art the strength of my heart and my portion forever.'
Wesley, when asked what he meant by the doctrine of Christian perfection that he embraced and shared with others assiduously, said, "I mean to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself." That's what he meant by "Christian perfection," and because Jesus Christ had given that as the greatest commandment, Wesley, logically, (and he was a logical man) held that to be what he looked for in Christian perfection.
That is echoed in the first statement here of what a Methodist is--"one who has the love of God shed abroad in his heart." This is a love not conjured or induced but it is given by God and is lived and experienced by one who has received it from God, the one who loves the Lord his God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind, and with all his strength.
The point I wanted to share with you particularly is the response to the command to "pray without ceasing." He holds that the Methodist does that. This is what he says:
For indeed he prays without ceasing. It is given him always to pray and not to faint. Not that he is always in the house of prayer, though he neglects no opportunity of being there. Neither is he always on his knees, although he often is, or on his face before His God. Nor yet is he always crying aloud to God or calling upon Him in words, for many times the Spirit maketh intercession for him with groanings that cannot be uttered. But at all times the language of his heart is this: "Thou brightness of the eternal glory, unto thee is my mouth though without a voice. And my silence speaketh unto thee. And this is true prayer--the lifting up of the heart to God. This is the essence of prayer, and this alone."That succinct sentence is worth repeating: "And this is true prayer---the lifting up of the heart to God. This is the essence of prayer, and this alone. But his heart is ever lifted up to God [speaking of the Methodist he is defining] at all times and in all places. In this he is never hindered, much less interrupted, by any person or thing. In retirement or company, in leisure, pleasure or conversation, his heart is ever with the Lord. Whether he lie down or rise up, God is in all his thoughts. He walks with God continually, having the loving eye of his mind still fixed upon Him and everywhere seeing Him that is invisible."
Here is Wesley's explanation, if not definition, of how one is to pray without ceasing. In a sentence, it recalls what was said of Moses thousands of years before Wesley, that he saw Christ as "seeing Him that is invisible." And Wesley holds this to be how one can pray continually. It is keeping one's heart lifted up to God, and yes, keeping Him foremost in the thoughts. It is cultivating and practicing the presence of God. Wesley here is suggesting that in every possible way we keep our hearts and our minds focused on Him that is invisible. It is a God-consciousness that enables us to pray without ceasing.
As he defined the
Methodist, this is one of the things that he had as a hallmark. It was
an interesting way to explain how one could "pray without ceasing" and
maintain a constant commitment to have the focus, the attitude, and the
consciousness of "seeing Him that is invisible."