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THE ORTHODOX FAITH:
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A Prayer given by God.


What else can be said about a prayer? ó There is a prayer made by man, and there is a prayer granted by God to a praying man. Who did not know the former? You should know the latter too at least in its initial form. In the beginning when a man is turning to God his first duty is a prayer. He begins to go to church and at home he reads prayers by the book and by heart. But his thoughts get distracted and he cannot control them. And yet, the more he works on his prayers, the more balanced his thoughts are and his prayer becomes clearer.

And yet, the atmosphere of a soul will not be cleansed until it is ignited with a small light of spirituality. That light is a token of Godís grace, but it is granted to all, not only to the chosen. That light appears as a result of a certain state of purity in the whole moral system of a seeking person. When that light is started, and the heart harbors constant warmth, it stops the turmoil of thoughts. The soul experiences what happened to the woman with a flow of blood: "...and immediately her bleeding stopped" (Luke 8:44). In that state a prayer turns more or less into a ceaseless prayer. The prayer of Jesus serves as a mediator to that ceaseless prayer. And that is a borderline to which a prayer made by the person himself can go.

The next stage of that state is a prayer overcoming a person, and not created by him. The prayerful spirit captivates a person and carries him along into his heart, as if somebody would take him by his hand and make him go from one room to another. The soul is bound there by some external force and stays willingly inside while it is overcome by the Spirit that captivated it. I know two degrees of that captivation. In the first one the soul can see everything, it perceives itself and its external position consciously, it can reason and control itself and even destroy that state, if it wishes.

Holy Fathers, especially St. Isaac of Syria, described also another stage of the prayer given from above or overcoming a person. At that stage the soul is also overcome by the prayerful spirit, but it is carried to such a contemplative spheres that it forgets its external position, it does not have the power to reason, control or destroy that state, but only to reflect. Such a state is mentioned in the "Otechnik" where a case is described of a person who began praying before dinner and came to himself only in the morning. This is exactly what we call a prayer in rapture, or a reflective/contemplative prayer. In such a state some people would be surrounded by light or their faces would be lighted, some would be lifted from the ground. Holy Apostle Paul was taken into heavens in that state.

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