Prayer is the merger of mind and heart with God, a living conversation with
Him, and the reverend presence before the Life-giving Source. Therefore, when
praying, forget all your surroundings and stand before God with a deep
realization of your inadequacy and unworthiness. A sincere prayer enlightens
and enlivens the soul, and gives it a taste of the joys to come. It gives
strength to the soul and body, and illuminates the face. It is a golden thread
that joins the creature with its Creator. It gives courage and strength in the
face of any temptations, assists in achieving success in business, strengthens
ones faith and other virtues, helps to improve oneís life, generates tears of
atonement and disposes one toward acts of benevolence.
In order to live a Christian life and sustain the spirit within us, private
and communal prayers are essential. Just as it is necessary to add oil to an
image-lamp so that it does not go out, so is it essential to attend church
services and pray there with faith, understanding and fervor. Because through
self-restraint a prayer becomes more sincere and fervent, it is necessary to
live in moderation and to fast. Nothing extinguishes the spirit within us as
quickly as immoderation, overindulgence and a dissipated way of life.
Theatre and other forms of entertainment stifle the Christian life, giving
rise to indifference, deceit and idle laughter. Theatre is the enemy of the
Christian way of life; it is the offspring of the prince of this world and not
that of the Holy Spirit. The true faithful of the Church shun it.
People have lost their faith because they do not pray. Their empty hearts
are empty forums for the prince of this world. These individuals do not
petition Christ for the life-giving dew of grace from the Holy Spirit, and
their hearts corrupted by their very nature, become totally arid and begin to blaze
with the fires of Hell as well as other diverse passions. The Devil knows how
to inflame this terrible fire further, rejoicing as he gazes at the destruction
of the unfortunate souls that have been redeemed by Him, Who had formerly
vanquished his dominion.
The only means by which you can spend the day in complete piety, peacefully
and without sinning, is a most sincere and fervent prayer in the morning as
soon as you awaken. It will bring Christ, the Father and the Holy Spirit into
your heart, and thus strengthen the soul to withstand evil.
Pronounce the words of your prayer with a firm heart. For example, when
praying in the evening, donít forget to state to the Holy Spirit ó with total
sincerity and a contrite heart ó all the transgressions that you have committed
during the day. Just a few moments of sincere repentance and you become whiter
than snow ó cleansed of all dirt by the Holy Spirit. Thereupon, tears will flow
from your eyes as the garment of Christís Truth covers you, and you will be
united with Christ, together with the Father and The Holy Spirit.
Sometimes, during a lengthy prayer, only a few minutes of it constitutes
that which is pleasing to God and which is of sincere service to Him. The main
intention in a prayer is to draw your heart near to God thereby experiencing
the redolent presence of Him in your soul.
Let us measure the worth of our prayers by human standards. For instance,
sometimes while we have an unfeeling disposition toward people, because of
decorum, we thank them hypocritically, or praise them, or do something for them
with the absence of sincerity. Other times, we do this with sincerity, warmth
and love. Likewise, we act the same with God. Yet this should not be so. We
must always speak out genuinely to God our praises, gratitude and entreaties.
We must unwaveringly love Him with all our hearts and rely upon him totally.
Often in a casual conversation, people refer to an utterance as a prayer
when it is not a prayer at all. For example, an individual went to church,
stood there for a while, looked around, listened to some of the singing and
later stated, "I prayed to God." Or, he stood before an icon at home,
nodded his head a few times and recited perfunctorily some memorized words and
declared, "I prayed to God." In reality, in both instances, that
person did not pray to God but performed some superficial exercises.
In Godís church, simple, faithful and kind souls are like children in the
house of the Heavenly Father ó here they are free and are totally at ease. In
church, sincere Christians can foretaste the future Kingdom that has been
prepared for them from the day of Creation: future liberation from all sin and
death: future tranquillity and joy.
Prayer is the elevation of oneís mind and heart to God. From this it becomes
apparent that if a personís mind and heart are attached to something carnal,
for example, money, esteem, or has hatred or envy toward others, he is unable
to pray. This is because passions bind the heart, whereas God gives it genuine
Attempt to acquire a child-like simplicity in your dealings with people and
in your prayers to God. Simplicity is the greatest blessing and attribute in a
human being. God is totally simple because he is totally spiritual, totally
good. And donít let your soul be divided into good and evil.
During prayer, remind yourself of the simplicity of truth and say:
"Everything is simple!" ó "I believe simply and request simply;
but your deceptions, my enemy, your doubts and desires ó I reject." May
the basis and source of all your words and deeds be the humble realization of
your personal insignificance and the greatness of God ó Creator and controller
of everything (1 Cor 12:) He who is infected with pride is inclined to be
contemptuous of everything. By its very nature, pride defiles every decent
thought, every word and act. It is the death-dealing breath of Satan.
When praying, it is essential to take charge of our heart and direct it
towards Christ. It is necessary for it not to be cold and two-faced. Otherwise,
of what benefit is our prayer? Is it good to hear our Lordís reprimand: "These
people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but
their heart is far from Me" (Mat. 15:8). So let us not stand before
Christ with a feeble spirit, but let it inflame when we serve Him. After all,
even people give little value to our services rendered to them through habit
and without feeling. What God wants is precisely our hearts: "My son,
give Me thine heart" (Prov. 23:26) Moreover, the heart is the most
important part in a person. Consequently, he who does not pray to God with all
his heart, is the same as if he had not prayed at all. Our prayer should be all
spirit and all comprehensive.
In asking God for various blessings, believe that He is everything to everybody.
If you are pleading to Him for health, believe that He is your health; if you
are asking for faith ó He is your faith; perhaps love ó He is your love;
tranquillity and joy ó He is your tranquillity and joy; assistance in difficult
circumstances ó He is your help and protection. Whatever blessing you may ask
of Him, He is that specific blessing. If He finds it germane, He will grant you
everything that you ask for.
If you want to petition something from God, before praying, prepare yourself
toward a resolute, firm faith and well beforehand, take measures against doubt.
It would be damaging if during prayer the faith in your heart is exhausted.
Therewith donít even think that you will receive what you have asked for,
because through doubt you have offended God. The Lord has said that "all
things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive"
(Mat. 21:22). Therefore if you ask with doubt, you will not be heard. "If
ye have faith and doubt not," said He also, "ye shall have
power to move mountains." "For let not that man think that he shall
receive any thing of the Lord; he is a double minded man, unstable in all his
ways" (James 1:7-8). The heart of a person that doubts God can grant
anything that is asked of Him, is punished for that disbelief: it is painfully
tormented and embarrassed from its skepticism. Do not anger Almighty God with
even a shadow of a doubt, especially you who has experienced Godís omnipotence
many times. Doubt is a lie that nestles in the heart of the Spirit of lies. Remember
that during your entreaty God expects an affirmative answer to the question
that He offers you inwardly: "Believe ye that I am able to do
this?" You must then respond from the depths of your heart: "Yea,
Lord!" (Mat. 9:28). Only then will it be according to your faith. The
following thoughts may assist you not to surrender to doubt. I am asking for an
existing and not an imaginary or fantastical blessing that exists, as
everything that exists had their beginning from God, and "without Him
was not anything made that was made" (John 1:3). Besides that, He
calls the non-existing real (Rom 4:17). This means that if I asked Him
something that does not exist, He would be able to create it and give it to me.
I ask for what is possible, but for God even what is not possible for us is
possible for Him. Therefore, even from this aspect there is no obstacle. Our
misfortune lies in that our faith is admixtured by myopic reason ó that spider
that catches the truth with its webs of determinations and analogies. Faith
embraces and perceives everything immediately, while reason arrives at the
truth in a circuitous manner. Faith is the means of communion by a spirit, with
the Spirit, while reason is the means of feeling having communion with sensual.
One is spirit, the other flesh.
Our hope of obtaining that which we ask for during prayer is based upon our
faith in Gods goodness. In saying: "Because God is merciful and generous
and is the Lover of mankind," we remind ourselves of the countless
instances of Godís grace bestowed upon those people mentioned in the Holy
Scriptures and in the writings on the lives of the saints, as well as upon
ourselves. That is why the success to a prayer is assisted by the knowledge to
a person that had already received what he asked for in the past ó when he
prayed with a firm belief in his heart. We always receive that what we ask for
when it pertains to the salvation of our soul. Everything good has to be
attributed to God and not some chance happeningÖ Many people do not pray
because it seems to them that God does not hear their prayers. Others regard
prayer as unnecessary, citing that God knows our needs even prior to our
asking. What they forget is: "Ask, and it shall be given unto you;
seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Mat.
7:7). Prayer is particularly essential for strengthening our faith, through
which alone can we be saved. It is said: "By grace are we saved through
faith" (Ephes. 2:8). "O woman, great is thy faith!"
(Mat. 15:28). That is why Christ forced the Canaanite woman to ask with
intensity, so as to arouse her faith.
In praying to the Mother of God, the angels and saints, we acknowledge them
as being the one mysterious body of the Church to which we too belong, and we
also believe that through their love for us, they are praying to God for our
salvation. In praying for the repose of the dead, we too regard them as being
one spiritual body with us and we wish them peace and tranquillity in the
immortal land, professing that they are alive spiritually.
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