Using this phrase is a challenge for someone like me who was brought up in a liberal Protestant tradition--we weren’t sinners, we just made occasional mistakes! But these days I’m okay with admitting I’m a sinner. Try as I might, I act wrong, I think wrong, I sin. I need God’s mercy.
On the other hand, I don’t like repeating over and over again that I am a sinner because it fills my unconscious with the negative, which doesn’t resonate with my positive disposition. My inclination is to dwell on God’s grace, on the Good News, not on my sins. And thus I have other ‘pray without ceasing’ phrases that I repeat.
Come, Holy Spirit, come.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Open my heart.
Breathe in God’s love, breathe out God’s love.
I don’t say these words out loud, I think them. In fact, even the phrase, pray without ceasing suffices. According to Russian monastic author Theophan the Recluse (1815-94), “Inner prayer means standing with the mind in the heart before God, either simply living in His presence, or expressing supplication, thanksgiving, and glorification.”