Communing with God in Prayer
The reading of prayers and prostrations are essential, of course, )ut these only e8press the state of prayer, while the prayer itself should come from the heart. 1nd it is only such prayer, from the )ottom of the heart and of the soul, that is the life of the spirit. True prayer, however, is a gift of God, and this gift is not granted The goal of the Christian's life on earth is salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ and, to us without diligence and struggle. Therefore it is necessary for us to pray that at the same time, communion with God. The means for this communion is prayer, the Lord should deem us worthy of this gift and grant us the grace to offer up to and through his prayer the Christian is joined in one spirit with the Lord ! Cor. -im our sincere, pure and heartfelt prayer, for we are only a)le to pray when "#$%&. Prayer is the focal point and foundation of spiritual life and the source of strengthened )y the -oly (pirit. Therefore we must )e mindful that the -oly (pirit salvation. 'ithout prayer, as (t. John Chrysostom says, there is no life in the is drawn to a soul cleansed of the stain of sin and worldly passions, and only in spirit. 'ithout prayer man is deprived of communion with God and can )e such a soul will -e a)ide. compared to a dry and )arren tree, which is cut down and thrown into the fire *att. %#$+&. 4ur prayers will gradually grow more perfect as we improve the manner of our lives and cleanse our hearts of sinful passion. This )anishment of sinful ways !n prayer, the Christian concentrates together all his spiritual acts. Prayer draws from our lives )rings as its reward our success in prayer. 1t the same time, we down to him the grace of God and is an invalua)le instrument of spiritual defense must say that prayer cannot achieve perfection in isolation, )ut must )e in the Christian's struggles against the sinful passions and vices. ,y prayer our accompanied )y all the virtues, for as we grow in virtue, so does our prayer grow thoughts, desires and deeds are sanctified, for he who prays receives the ever more perfect. )lessing of the Lord on his deeds, for, as -oly (cripture tells us, unless the Lord )uilds the house, those who )uild it la)or in vain Ps. $.%#$&. /othing so helps us Therefore we say that a Christian does not achieve true prayer at once, )ut only to grow in virtue as our pure and pious prayers to God. Thus it was the shared gradually, through various e8ertions and la)or. 1ll of life's deeds re9uire toil and opinion of all the -oly 0athers that prayer is the mother of virtues. ,y repeated patience, )ut nowhere more than in the striving after the supreme virtue prayer. and fervent prayer, man is made more worthy of God's mercy and more capa)le of receiving the gifts of grace which God, )y reason of -is infinite goodness, is already to )estow on us out of -is immeasura)le )ounties. Conditions for Prayer. !n prayer, the Christian prays not only for himself, )ut for all men, for we all are The first condition for the attainment of true prayer is a fervent desire to )e saved the children of God. 'e must pray for the salvation of our neigh)or just as we pray for our own salvation, and the )est means of correcting our neigh)or is to and )e pleasing to God a readiness to sacrifice all for the sa2e of God and the salvation of one's soul. 1s ,ishop Theophan the :ecluse states# Consider prayer pray for him, )ecause prayer for our neigh)or has far greater effect than denunciation of his sins. !n addition, we pray not only for the living, )ut also for to )e the first and foremost duty in your life and as such 2eep it in your heart. Go the departed, that God may forgive them their sins and grant them repose in the a)out your prayers as to the fulfillment of your primary duty, and not as to something to )e done )etween tas2s. heavenly mansions of the righteous. 1 ha)it of a)sentminded, inattentive and careless prayer )reeds a coldness 1s with any spiritual endeavor, however, the Christian must learn how to pray towards God, dejection, a wea2ening of the faith and a dar2ening of the mind, properly. 1s (t. Ti2hon of 3adons2 cautions us# 4f no value is that prayer in which the tongue prays )ut the mind is empty5 the tongue spea2s, )ut the mind and these in their turn lead to spiritual num)ness. 0or prayer to )e fruitful it must lies silent5 the tongue calls God, )ut the mind wanders amongst created things. )e fervent, offered up with an awareness of the need for what we are as2ing Col. 'e must, therefore, pray in fear and trem)ling and try in every way to ensure that ;#.& and it must )e untiring and relentless, pursuing its purpose with the firm resolve of the widow in 4ur Lord's para)le who see2s protection from her our minds are with our words, or, as (t. John of the Ladder tells us, to enclose our mind in the words of our prayer, 6so that7 the heart may respond to the words adversary Lu2e $<#.=<&. 1t the same time, however, we must ensure that our supplications )e worthy of God and of -is glory and not opposed to -is divine of the prayers. will. (urely we must pray# Lord, let Thy, and not my, will )e done in all things>
should )e lifted up to God. 'e must always call to mind -ell and the spirit# a )ro2en and contrite heart. -e is always )efore the eyes of God as God is invisi)ly with him always and everywhere.B=. together with mind to collect itself. we do not immediately )rea2 off from our daily tas2s and 1n unhurried and devout recitation of the words will greatly help in 2eeping just start praying. however. each Christian through one's prayers in the an8iety for )odily rest. charity is the wing of prayer. a danger difficult to avoid if we ta2e upon ourselves too heavy a a sincere than2sgiving to God for all -is mercies. 4 God. 4ne must )e feeling for the guidance and admonition of Christians. enlightened )y the grace of God. must always )e )rought to remem)rance as awareness of one's own sinfulness and with the contrition and humility of soul well as the fearsome ?ay of Judgment. )ut for private prayer at home. This is a moderate rule and is of special help to those who are just learning to pray. 1ll the great ascetics had such a rule and 2ept to it diligently.efore offering a prayer. to understand and penetrate into the words of the prayer one's soulful aspirations. Then we must ma2e a )urden. we should )egin our prayers with glorification of the Creator of all. in standing. Through this ver)al prayer through the diligent e8ercise of it the Christian. whosoever does not avow himself a sinner. )ut we must prepare ourselves. lives in the fear of the Lord. !n this way we may lead our shall not )e pleasing to the Lord. in prayer is )oth necessary and )eneficial. as consists mainly in attentively reading or listening to prayer. heart may not feel the words of the Prayer. -ere a great deal of self=e8ertion and patience li2e a man who tempts the Lord (irach $<#. than that we say many prayers in haste. the eyes of the soul. 4ne's Guardian 1ngel is also always )y his side. one must prepare himself not only inwardly. to e8cuse himself from prayers on the grounds of lac2 of time. filled with holy thoughts and deep prayer. while. 1s one fulfills his devotional o)ligations. God. !f one only has a little time for prayer. for the disposition of the soul is in The Christian must remain constantly mindful of God and must wal2 in fear of conformity with the disposition of the )ody. with up a few prayers. one will only deprive himself must recite the prayers contained in the Prayer)oo2. in an )y and carries us off in many ways. since such have composed many )eautiful prayers. 1s the -oly 0athers also teach us. one must not )e thin2ing only of reciting all of the prescri)ed prayers. prepare yourself5 and do not )e and ma2ing the (ign of the Cross. for prayer said without love is not heard. This outward attitude of piety and to pronounce them without )ecoming distracted )y outside thoughts. made. !n addition to this. with the help of God. )ut must strive to arouse and strengthen in the soul the proper prayerful feelings and devotional attitude. for )y rushing Church during the ?ivine (ervices. off reading the prayers even when fatigued after a day of hard wor2.A&. !t is )etter that we offer to (t. )owing -oly (cripture tells us# . 1s the Prayer)oo2 says# (tand attention on the prayers. !n his daily devotions. Thou wilt not despise Ps. as well as the @ingdom of -eaven prepared for the faithful who lived in righteousness. 4ne must also 4ne must also prepare himself for prayer in the soul. *echanics of Prayer."&. the essence of which )e mindful of the fact that earthly life is not eternal. 4ne must not let The -oly 0athers and 1scetics of the Church. 1ccording home rule of prayer is determined for each of us in accordance with our manner of life and the state of our spiritual and physical strength. where we all shall have to answer for our that such awareness )rings. gradually trains his ?uring prayer one should stand straight with ones eyes fi8ed on the icon or lowered to the ground. at the same time. 4ne must strengthen himself against the temptations of sloth and must see2 not The Church of Christ teaches us prayers composed )y righteous and holy men. which passes no one consists of purging all vengeful thoughts from one's heart *ar2 $$#. for all the trials and sorrows sent down for our )enefit and the )enefit of our neigh)ors. BC#$%&. 1s the -oly 0athers teach us. deed and thought. they must )e said with charity. John Chrysostom. the Christian must adhere to a strict home rule of prayer. in proper devotion. )efore entering is called for. )ut also outwardly. ?eath. 'e hear these prayers in prepared to sacrifice some moments of )odily repose for the Lord. done with such great effort. The e8tent of our 'hen we pray we must remem)er that if our prayers will rise speedily to God. is especially pleasing to God.There are different degrees of prayer and for the )eginner the effort of prayer in silence for a few moments until all your senses are calmed. 'hen we )egin to pray. 0urthermore. 0or the only sacrifice pleasing to God is a )ro2en every sinful word. his prayer eternal torment which awaits all sinners. of )oth physical and spiritual repose. )ecause our attention )ecomes distracted in this process and our into prayer. it would )e far
. evening prayers. confession of sins in repentance of heart after which we will )e deemed worthy to !n the Prayer)oo2 the Church provides all Christians with a rule of morning and entreat the @ing of -eaven in prayer.
(t. "& ?o we as2 for )eneficial thingsE To live in God means that one must always and everywhere )e with God. 1s (t. (t. 'hen you pray. fear of God and devotion to -im. as an e8pression of heartfelt feelings of penitence.
(t. you will do as 'hether we are heard or not when we pray. prostrations. (t. a man does not doDe off. nonetheless. according to the words of the (avior. he was especially interested in teaching them how to pray. as a result.& ?o we pray according to ?ivine LawE A& ?o we pray you. )ut must also as2 them of -im. 4ne can )e heard without uttering any words. *any are not heard )ecause they as2 for useless things. and do not gather spiritual treasure. (pea2ing of the content of prayer. 'hile fasting. These prayers can )e short and few. and carries him away to heavenly definite place. John says. John advises first of all to than2 God for everything. 0asting also proves to )e an invalua)le aid to man in the achievement of perfect prayer. so man's soul cannot live without prayerful contact with God. the )eneficial devotion of prayer is the that prayer )e said with the lips. show indulgence towards their own wea2nesses. !f you deprive yourself of prayer. !f you do not say many prayers. mean an internal cry& without ma2ing it 2nown to any of those present. !f not in the middle of the night. 'hile sitting and wor2ing in a wor2shop. the soul ascends heavenwards to God>
part of our time. then say one with attentive concern and this is enough. !n his sermons. 'e can pray to your 0ather 'ho is in secret5 and your 0ather 'ho sees in secret will o)tain )enefit from praying during our entire lives )y devoting to it the greater
. renews him. Therefore the -oly 0ather. depends upon the following# $& 1re though you had ta2en a fish out of water# as life is water for a fish. 1part from private or home prayer. while wal2ing a)out the streets. -e even as2ed Christians to pray during the night. finally. (t. 1 man must also )e taught )y reason of his limitations and sinfulness that he cannot always correctly determine what will )ring him what he as2s for in prayer. )ecause they insist on the fulfillment of their own will and not God's. the heavenly guide which does not revolve around the earth. (t.ut.& ?o we avoid as2ing for worldly thingsE B& ?o we fulfill everything that is re9uired on our partE and. go into your room and shut the door and John. inspires him. John. )oth coming in and going out. 'hen these conditions are fulfilled. humility. than to rush through many prayers without proper attention. John was especially concerned for the spiritual and moral development of his floc2 and. John affirms.
!n his earthly ministry. one must also not allow the omitted prayers to go unheeded5 these can )e completed later when there is time.ut. and ma2ing the (ign of the Cross. as (t. Prayers at night are often purer )ecause the mind is more at ease and there are fewer worries. especially if reading it from a )oo2. in truth prayer is the light of the soul. :eceiving all gifts from God. 1s he taught. . he taught. The -oly 0athers recommend for greater spirituality of mind and heart the rule of e8ecuting )ows. and while sitting with friends and doing any sort of thing. for he 2new from e8perience what )enefit such prayers )ring. for when one's )ody is prostrate. does not tal2 a lot. the physician of diseases. such a union is impossi)le. 1s trees cannot live without water. for the power of prayer lies not in words uttered )reath of life. John Chrysostom on Prayers. one can call upon God with a great cry ! Church Prayer. ! demand no more. John Chrysostom was well 2nown as a super) homilist and for his efforts received the well=deserved title Golden=mouth. one must not hasten from one word to the ne8t. (t. let us rise during the night. and without prayer. a Christian not only must than2 God for them. at least towards morning. !t did not limit conversation with God in prayer to one set time of day or to one spiritualiDes a man. )ut with careful thought and attention. 2nowledge of God and men. 'hile in pu)lic. so is prayer for we worthy to receiveE .)etter to say fewer prayers. say. the healer of vices. prayer ac9uires a truly ineffa)le power. the true s9uare. not all that is as2ed of God can )ring )enefit to man or can )e good for him. which is said in private. )ut. . one can pray in thought with great Deal. the one can dedicate his spirit to God. )ut )y the heart. ! peace of the soul. sees the time of prayer in much )roader terms. 'hile saying a prayer. )y the lips. 'hile not diminishing the role and importance of prayer set for definite hours. John did not recommend )ut which leads up to -eaven> Therefore. neither does he yawn or grow wea2 in prayer as often happens to many when not fasting. lest there )e a failure to grasp the truth of the te8t and to receive it into the heart. as the (aint notes. incessantlyE . 'hile wal2ing a)out a s9uare. one can say prolonged prayers while wal2ing to the pastures. 4ne can say prolonged and fervent prayers. during prayer. deep piety.
of course. very close for a man whose soul is open and awaits private prayer recited at home. ?uring church prayer it is not only people who lift Thy coming.C&.. should as2 of our -eavenly 0ather. as well as the synagogue. the 0ather of the spiritual world. (uch prayer has much greater power. The 0ather is -e 'ho calls us to life. for as (t.reward you *att. and pray therein. 'hy is this soE . very far for a man whose heart and soul have turned away from -eaven. B#$"&. -eaven also implies in unanimity. we sanctify ourselves and the surrounding world.ishop /icholas of 4chrid. The Lord -imself. we should )eseech our -eavenly 0ather that -is name. as we forgive those who trespass against us5 Temple of Jerusalem. attending the temple together 1cts . on the one hand. )oth in us and through us *att. 4ur 0ather. and these are things that we also ma2e their devotions to -im. 'hen 1ngelic -ost and the Church Triumphant=2nown )i)lically as -eaven. The words 4ur 0ather 'ho art in heaven )ear witness to the truth that God is the . -e loves -is church together with the congregation of )elievers. hallowed )e Thy name. Fou can. and the first Christians 1nd lead us not into temptation. there am ! in the midst of them cares for it. )eing the 0ather. when ! open my mouth and *att. pray at home. )ut 1ngels.)ut -eaven is very. warns (t. *atthew's Gospel is worded thus# -im. and the earth seems to draw closer to -eaven. (ervices. cares for it. with -is )lessing. may )e united with their stronger prayers and thus )e uplifted to is very."&. .. spea2ing to God as with one voice. have mercy uttered in material and spiritual. and which does not That is why the priests stand )efore us. it is our world the Chrysostom. 'ho loves -is creation and 0or where two or three are gathered in *y name. and guides it to the goals of goodness and perfection as -e prostrations during lonely home prayer. 1ccording to . on the other hand. we as2 the Lord to help us and ma2e us worthy. for you deceive only yourselves. The Lord is the fullness and perfection of sanctity )ut. $& 4ur 0ather 'ho art in -eaven.y its very significance church prayer is incompara)ly higher than prayer said at 0ather of all that e8ists. it is spiritual the world of the can in church.ut deliver us from the Gvil 4ne. that is.ecause our Lord said# has planned. 1s . used to visit the 1nd forgive us our trespasses. 'ho art in heaven. that the prayers of the people.#. concord. )e hallowed. !n the first petition. too. John The universe created )y God is diverse. hallowed )e Thy name. conducted during ?ivine (ervice. were day )y day.& Thy 2ingdom come. -e not only created the universe. Thy 2ingdom come. up their voices. )y glorifying the words of the Lord's Prayer. visi)le and invisi)le )ut. in (t. for. cry# '0ather>' love e8pels fear.' )ut love says# '4ur 0ather>' (ome say that it is not essential to go to church to pray. that purity and sanctity of divine life to which man is called. -e often prayed. . as a Christian one must also participate in church prayer. Therefore you pray to the Lord alone you will not )e heard as soon as when you pray God is called the 0ather of our natural=human world and the -eavenly 0ather together with your )rethren. !n the second petition. amidst so many people..eware. the entire world home. for together with them your prayer is great# you pray 'ho art in -eaven. )efore the gathering of the faithful.. on earth as it is in heaven. during -is earthly life. Therefore our -oly 4rthodo8 Church our *other strictly commands her children to attend ?ivine . The Give us this day our daily )read5 importance and significance of this type of prayer at the ?ivine (ervices is stressed in the Gospels. which is particularly essential to our salvation. which 'hen the ?isciples as2ed 4ur Lord to teach them how to pray. which. who are e8ist in him if he is entirely captivated )y (in. The Lord's Prayer. John Chrysostom tells us. "#"&.Ggoism cries to Thee# '*y 0ather. come to the Lord with prayer. )ut you cannot there pray as you world of nature and man and. )ut also )efore the people.. is worth a hundred creation. Thy will )e done. a union of love and of prayer with the officiating priests. not only in solitude. he gave to them is always holy in itself. is far more )old and effective than Thee.ishop /icholas says# -eaven wea2 in spirit. that one can pray just as well at home. through
. a single Lord. and the 1rchangels The Lord's Prayer consists of seven petitions. $<#.
. indicating the -elper and 1ccomplisher of our always good. . and teaches us to as2 only for what is most essential. )ut according to -is will. and accepta)le."&. $. (t. of the @ingdom of -eaven which )egins.&. of which the Lord said# ! am the )read of life. to fortify ourselves spiritually and free ourselves from misfortune and disaster. within us. Therefore. and -e will not let you )e A& Thy will )e done on earth.y o)eying the will of salvation. )ut with the temptation will also provide the way of escape. B& 1nd forgive us our trespasses. we )eseech God the 0ather that -e not allow us to live out -imself has suffered and )een tempted. as2ing for -is forgiveness. do not )e an8ious a)out tomorrow. )ecause the Lord says# . B#<&. $.& Give us this day our daily )read5 !n the fourth petition we )eseech God to give us our daily )read everything we need in life. %& . then we as2 God to send us -is timely help. . the Lord Jesus Christ.#$<&. as it is in -eaven. to have courage to accomplish a feat. directly associated with the surrounding world. -e is a)le to help those who are our earthly lives according to our sinful ways. . if you have anything against any one5 so that your 0ather also 'ho is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 'e as2 on earth. the ?evil prowls around li2e a roaring lion. and joy in the )eyond our strength to reject.#$%& a)ide in us. Thus the Lord's Prayer is the unfailing model and rule for all prayers. and perfect :om. *an's sins are called trespasses against God in this petition and here we )eg for God's mercy. we as2 that we )e protected against and saved from Gvil and the ?evil. 0or )ecause -e !n the third petition. neither will your 0ather 'ho is in heaven forgive your trespasses *ar2 $$#. :emem)ering the Gnemy of our salvation.ut it will only come to us in the fullness of its power when -im to preserve us from all that confuses our spirit and from temptations that are (in ceases to hold undivided sway in us and righteousness. 0irst and foremost. that you may )e a)le to endure it ! Cor.#. for tomorrow will )e an8ious for itself.ut see2 first -is 2ingdom and -is righteousness.. which is tempted -e). instituted for our salvation. The words this day warn us against too many cares. John Chrysostom says.&. we )egin to esta)lish the @ingdom of God within ourselves. then God will also forgive us our sins *ar2 . who is a murderer from the )eginning and wor2s for our destruction.#. see2ing some one to devour $ Pet. here !n the si8th petition we as2 of the Lord that -e not allow us to fall into sin.&. tempted )eyond your strength. !n the fifth petition the Lord teaches us how to as2 forgiveness for our sins from the -eavenly 0ather. 'hoever see2s forgiveness should resort to the healing power of repentance and forgive his neigh)or. God.B= .ut if you do not forgive. !n the seventh and final petition. and all these things shall )e yours as well.<. The Church uses it in all the sacramental orders.-is grace. and )y prayer to the -eavenly 0ather.
. This is our confession.. the Lord urges us to )e vigilant and so)er of spirit. the trespasser. 4ur spiritual )read is the grace= )estowing (acraments of the Church. and in all the ?ivine (ervices. as we forgive those who trespass against us. 1s (t. spiritual as well as physical. and how they may )e forgiven. Paul says. it is the crown of all prayers. Peter says.ut deliver us from the Gvil 4ne. as Christ -imself said. B$&. 1nd whenever you stand praying. 'hen we forgive our trespassers. our daily )read means -oly Communion. God is faithful. !f we encounter on our earthly path trials and -oly (pirit :om.. forgive. "#AA=A. . temptations sent for our purification from sin and spiritual fortification. teaches us to pray for one another. *aterial )read means all that is necessary for human e8istence. Let the day's own trou)le )e sufficient for the day *att. 1s (t.and the )read which ! shall give for the life of the world is *y flesh John "#. peace. "& 1nd lead us not into temptation. $C#$A&.