Pray Without Ceasing


A 4-Step Prayer Plan Inspired by St. Francis de Sales

By Sheri Wohlfert

Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) 

There are so many lessons we try to pack into a school year. Some days I feel like I nail it, and some days I feel like I should return my paycheck. At the end of every week it’s a good idea to take a few minutes to reflect on the successes of the week because it’s easy to lose sight of those in the chaos. I’m especially interested in discipleship-building successes, because helping our kids grow in holiness is objective number one, so if something works there, I’m gonna make sure I keep it going and pray about ways to make it better.

Long ago when I first began teaching, I came across a four-line prayer inspired by the writings of St. Francis de Sales. It appears in my lessons all year long, every single year. It truly is something students carry with them long after they leave our building. One really cool guy carried it with him for more than a decade, and in his early twenties had the prayer tattooed on his forearm so he would have a constant visual reminder of how to live this verse from Thessalonians. The prayer sums up all we believe about prayer as Catholics. It includes surrender, faith, obedience, trust and humility.

Here are the four powerful lines:

I Can’t … You Can … You Promised … Please Do

I teach the kids that in moments of frustration, despair, anxiety or need they say these four lines. As they repeat them over and over, they can think through each line like this.

I Can’t. I cant decide … I can’t figure this out … I can’t do this alone … I can’t deal with all this … whatever comes to their heart.

You Can. Your power can do anything … you can love me right now … you can bring light … you can strengthen me … you can protect me … whatever comes to their heart

You Promised. You promised your love … you promised to protect me … you promised to send your Holy Spirit to help me … you promised to be with me always … whatever comes to their heart

Please Do. Lord, I know you can do anything … do what is your will and help me feel your comfort … do a mighty work … do what leads me and others to you.

We pray the prayer together often so students become familiar with the ways they can make those four lines come to life no matter what they are praying about. Sometimes I sit with a student and talk about what’s on their heart and we pray it together and sometimes we write about it in our prayer journals.

These four simple lines are balm to hurting hearts of any age.

Sheri Wohlfert is a Catholic wife, mom, speaker, and teacher who writes from Michigan. She uses her sense of humor and her deep faith to help others discover the joy of being a child of God. Sheri also writes at JoyfulWords.org.

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