The Blessing of Common Prayer

Brothers and sisters, what a blessing it is to pray to the Lord together! This past Saturday evening, we had a “reader’s vigil” – that is, a vigil service without a priest, since Father Seraphim was still out of town.

Often, reader’s services can seem to be lacking in some way, since there are no vestments, no litanies, no censing… But this time it was not that way. We had a fairly large group of people for a Saturday Vigil, most of whom stayed to the end and participated in the singing and reading, and there was a palpable sense that we were, as a group, praying together.

Brothers and sisters, the life of the Church is prayer. Individual prayer, to be sure, but also corporate prayer, prayer with one another and for one another. This is why the services are such an essential part of the life of the Church. Here we put aside our own individual feelings and come together as the Body of Christ. In the midst of our own joy, we acknowledge and pray for the sorrows of our brothers. In the midst of our own sorrows, we give thanks for our brothers’ joys.

The services teach us how to pray and they give us the opportunity to practice, to learn. They teach us thanksgiving, glorification of God, repentance for our sins, and prayer for salvation – our own individual salvation and that of all of our brothers in Christ.

I think it is very significant that nearly every other Christian confession has lost the cycle of Church services with the exception of a single service on Sunday morning. Truly, the Sunday Liturgy is the most important of the services. It is where we come together in one Body by partaking of the Holy Mysteries together. And truly, the Sunday Liturgy is sometimes all we can manage to fit in. But it cannot be the limit to our prayer together. Prayer is not a once-a-week thing. Prayer is our life, individually and corporately.

One Response to “The Blessing of Common Prayer”

  1. Father, Bless.

    Merry Christmas!

    Common prayer is very important. I understood this only several years after I entered the Church…The realization of it comes not at once. Only after some even minor, like mine, experience of an individual prayer, one understands that all Christians are a unity, the body of the Church. That we all need each other, that we all, despite all our shortcomings & discrepancies, are unique & dear to Christ. I realized the need for me personally to ask Christians to pray for me (and now I do it regularly, bothering my dear brothers & sisters with this:-)). And I realized the necessity to pray together. I feel a great use & support for me in it. Especially when I find myself in crucial circumstances, I rely very much on other people’s prayers for me. And prayers with them.

    Common prayer edifies & unites us. And the joy that reigns in the heart of one Christian passes to another one, becoming a double joy – being shared. And the pain that one feels becomes less – being shared.

    Though often a common prayer is used as a means of asking something from God. It is also of course good, but this should not be the dominant factor & stimulus of people’s gatherings in prayer. In any case – whether the prayer is individual or common – it’s not a visit to a “service bureau”, but it is a prayerful intercession in front of God, united praise & readiness to submit to His saint will. The major aspect of asking in our prayers should be salvation. And the urge to accept His will & His ways of our salvation – whatever He finds most appropriate for achieving this.

    I am very reluctant to it…I understand it should be so, but very often I prefer it all to go my own way, to “choose” the means of my salvation that I find preferable…And the common prayer helps me to “put my head on its place”, it sobers me, and – or it only seems to me – makes me more obedient & helps to cope with my individualism & self-concentration. As actually when I hear the requests on the litanies while in the church, I realize that this is what we REALLY need – as a unity, as a nation, as a people. and as a person we well.

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