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How to strengthen one's faith

Thus, among the many talents and faculties of the human spirit, faith is the most precious of the Divine gifts. Faith broadens man's horizons and gives him a proper outlook, reveals to him the purpose of his life, encourages him during hard times and gladdens his heart, empowers his prayer and gives him access to a multitude of God's treasures and mercies.

Sadly, however, our life of plenty and well-being weakens our faith, and God's goodness gets forgotten. As faith grows dim, a man's inner condition becomes increasingly disordered: he loses clarity of thought and purpose of life, his spiritual strength leaves him, emptiness and despondency firmly set into his heart, he becomes irritable and dissatisfied with everything. After all, the soul cannot live without faith, just as a plant cannot live without light and moisture. No matter how intelligent and talented he might be, with faith extinguished a person descends to the level of a cunning animal, or even a predator.

In order to escape such a "shipwreck of faith" (1 Tim. 1:19), one must seriously concern oneself with the renewal of his soul. But how? We know that all talents require exercise: to preserve a sharp mind, it must be engaged in mental work; so that fingers maintain their flexibility, it is necessary to practice on a musical instrument; to have the body remain limber, it is necessary to do gymnastic exercises; and so on. If people expend so much energy and money to develop and preserve their physical abilities, should not we Christians strive to strengthen our spiritual capabilities?

Specifically: to strengthen our faith, we must live spiritually. This includes regular reading of the Holy Scripture, meditation about God and the purpose of our life, fasting and prayer. When praying, one must make an effort to concentrate on the meaning of the words and feel the presence of God. It is also important to repent sincerely for one's sins, go to Confession and take Communion on a regular basis. Finally, one must try to live not for oneself alone but for the good of one's neighbor and one's church. The heart of one who loves is warmed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Of course, in trying to lead a Christian life one cannot avoid battles, trials and difficulties. At times it may seem that the whole world is armed against us. These are unwanted but precious periods in which we are given the opportunity to grow spiritually and become better Christians.

In striving to strengthen our faith, let us always remember that ultimately faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul testified to this: "The fruit of the Spirit is: joy, love, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, kindness, faith" (Gal. 5:22). Let us, therefore, ask God for faith, that great spiritual treasure. As Jesus Christ has promised: "Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you" (Matt. 7:7). And as faith grows, it will bring with it peace of mind, joy, and a foretaste of final triumph over all evil. "This is the victory that has overcome the world our faith" (1 John 5:4).


*** *** ***

Poems on Faith

Oh, wondrous holy Faith,

You are a miracle streaming current,

You are the door of the soul to the abode of Paradise,

You are the dawn of the future life!

Burn in me, lamp of Faith,

Burn more clearly, do not go out,

Be everywhere a faithful campanion to me

And enlighten the path of life for me!

K. R. (1852-1915)

Oh, my God! I give thanks

For Thine having given my eyes

To see the world Thine eternal temple

And the earth, the sky and the dawn. . .

Let torments threaten me, -

I give thanks for this moment,

For everything which I understood with my heart,

Of which the stars speak to me. . .

Everywhere I sense, everwhere

Thee, Lord: in the night silence,

And in the most remote star,

And in the depth of my soul.

I wish my life to be

Unceasing praise to Thee;

Thee for midnight and the dawn!

For life and death I thank!

D. S. Merezhkovsky (1866-1941)


Blessed is he who with holy faith

Raises, inspires his spirit,

And strengthens his heart as with steel armor

From the storms of life.

For him trials are not terrible,

Nor is remoteness, nor the depth of the sea;

Grief and sufferings are not terrible,

Nor is the power of death terrible.

A. Ushakov

Poems translated from the Russian by Dimitry J. Hicks Hloboschin 30/XI/1998

Missionary Leaflet 26E
Copyright 2001 Holy Trinity Orthodox Mission
466 Foothill Blvd, Box 397, La Canada, Ca 91011
Editor: Bishop Alexander (Mileant)

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