Archive for the ‘prayer’ Category

Christian Life Skills: Praying for others. Praying for enemies. The Jesus Prayer.

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

 

Abstract: A critical “Christian Life Skill” is to pray for others. This is an expression of love. We must also especially pray for our enemies or those who have wronged us, to root out any vestiges of bitterness. Here are simple, practical ideas to add prayer for others to your way of life, cutting through excuses, lack of time, confusion, fatigue, and distraction.

 

Christian Life Skills: Praying for others

Praying for enemies

The Jesus Prayer

To pray for someone more diligently

 

 

 

 

A difficult to learn Christian life skill is to pray consistently for others. As in all spiritual and even temporal things, we cannot succeed without God’s grace helping us, but this knowledge should not stop us from, as my dad has said: “using our noodle!” A little practical organization in this area goes a long way, if combined with zeal and resolute purpose.

 

We all have people we care about, but when we start to pray, the memory of all their names may be elusive. Prayer with attention is hard. If we are struggling to remember names, our attention may be divided, and we may get fatigued.

 

Keep a list.

 

The solution is simple! Have a moderate list of people you want to pray for. Note cards are good – they can fit in your prayer book or pocket. Some (like me) prefer to keep a list on the computer and print it out periodically. I have even created a template of “note cards [1]”, four to a side, which is useful for this purpose. After printing, fold the paper in half, and cut or rip the halves. Then do it again, and you have four equal sized note cards.

 

Keep a small list.

 

When I was younger, I had huge lists of people – just about everybody I knew, subdivided into all kinds of categories. It was too big for me, and I fell into the trap of not praying for anybody at all on some days when the idea of reading that huge list fatigued me before I started. Remember: “It is better to do a little thing than fail to do a large thing”.

 

Either keep a small list, with family, friends, your pastor, and your enemies or those who have offended you or disturb your soul in some way. It should not be book size. Some will make a list for Monday and another for Tuesday, etc. If you are that organized, I salute and admire you. The important thing is to have a manageable list of people for each day.

 

I like lists, because even though I know all my parishioner’s names by heart, it gets very fatiguing to call to mind all their names. I use my diptychs [2] for this purpose.

 

Have a set time.

 

If you have a set time to pray for others, you will pray for others. Some suggested times: after morning (better) or evening prayers and during your commute in the car, bus or train (but don’t forget the off days!)  When I was in an office I would go outside and walk on some railroad tracks and pray for people. It was a great break from work

 

Pray for your enemies.

 

This seems obvious, since our Lord commanded us:

 

“… Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you’ (Matthew 5:44)

 

In my experience as a pastor, this idea does not always occur to us, or we are resistant to it.  

 

It is IMPERATIVE that you pray for your enemies, or those of whom you have any bitterness, towards, remember wrongs, etc. You know the people of whom your soul feels darker and colder and angry when you think of them or encounter them. Listen to your soul! Sometimes this coldness is disguised from us, but if you are attentive to yourself, you will feel when your peace is disturbed by the thought of or interaction with someone. This is always your fault! There is no keeping score here – it does not matter if “he/she/they” were at fault too. You should not dare to disobey a direct commandment of the Lord.

 

We cannot love as God loves without learning to forgive our enemies. Don’t think of an enemy as only someone that you might come to blows with or are in some kind of open conflict with. Learn to feel the chilling darkness from that dark shadow that blocks out the warmth of the sun from your soul.

 

It is more important to pray for your enemies, those who curse you, and hate you than yourself or your loved ones. God hears our prayer when it is pure. Bad feelings about others make us impure. It is as simple as that, and besides, the Lord commanded us.

 

Just do it; make a list of people you have problems with. Don’t write a novel – there is no need to include biographical information!

 

Pray for these people everyday, simply, resolutely, and even if your prayer is accompanied with anger and clenched teeth.

 

It is MUCH better to pray and fight against anger than to be angry and not pray. You need to fight off the anger, and the only way is to forgive, and the best way to forgive is to pray.

 

Do not let yourself be fooled – the snake in the grass that we see is less dangerous than the one we do not see. Just because we do not feel anger when we do not think of someone does not prove anything! Just try thinking of those certain people in your life, and see if you feel any darkness. And then try praying for them – any anger or any kind of darkening of the soul during this time is a sure sign that you must pray for them – for your sake as well as theirs.

 

How to pray for others.

 

 

God knows the needs of all of us. In general, it is best to pray simply.  You could say “Lord have mercy on (name) for each person, or use the Jesus prayer:

 

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on (name) .”

 

Some may want to mention particular needs, but it is best to keep it simple. The intercessory prayers of the church are a good guide. The more specific you get, the more you think, and the less you pray, and there is always a danger that you will sin by judging others.

 

If you want to pray more intensely for someone, you can use a prayer rope to count prayers, and say, for example, 10 prayers per person. Anything that is easy to count with the rope is a good number. Some ropes are divided into tens; others have a large bead every 25 small beads.

 

Another way to pray more intensely for someone is to use the prayer used on the “Old Believer” prayer book (online here):

 

 

To pray for someone more diligently: [3]

 

Save, O Lord, and have mercy on Thy servant(s) ________, [bow] [4]

 

Deliver him (her, them) from every tribulation, wrath and need [bow],

 

From every sickness of soul and body, [bow]

 

Forgive him (her, them) every transgression, voluntary and involuntary, [bow]

 

And do whatever is profitable for our souls. [bow].

 

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at: http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-12-09-christian-life-skills-praying-for-others+the-jesus-prayer+to-pray-for-someone-more-diligently+praying-for-enemies.html

& http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-12-09-christian-life-skills-praying-for-others+the-jesus-prayer+to-pray-for-someone-more-diligently+praying-for-enemies.doc

 

New Journal entries, homilies, etc. are on our BLOG: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

 

Journal Archive: http://www.orthodox.net/journal

 

Blog posts & local parish news are posted to our email list. Go to here: http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church to join.

 

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Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL of the article. This content belongs to the author. We would love to hear from you with comments! (seraphim@orthodox.net)

 



[2] “Diptych” means list. All priests have one, and they use it to commemorate the living and the dead in the “Proskimidie” or “Preparation service” before the Divine Liturgy, by taking out a small piece and putting it on the diskos (the round plate on a small stand that is used with the chalice) for each name. This bread is latter added to the chalice after the faithful are communed, with the prayer “By thy precious Blood, O Lord, wash away the sins of those here commemorated, through the intercessions of Thy saints” Only the Orthodox are commemorated in this way (since only the Orthodox may have Holy Communion), but most priests are like me and have many non Orthodox in their diptychs that they pray for without taking out particles of bread.

 

[4] A "Bow", also known as a "poklon" is performed by making the sign of the cross, and simultaneously bowing the head and bending from the waist.

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Christian Life Skills. The Jesus prayer Pray without ceasing. New Testament Challenge and the Jesus Prayer Challenge

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Christian Life Skills: The Jesus prayer

Pray without ceasing

New Testament Challenge and theJesus Prayer Challenge

Nov 11/24 25th Tuesday after Pentecost[U1] 

 

Recently, on various blogs I fail miserably in keeping up with, the “ New Testament Challenge” has been proposed. This is a suggestion to read the entire NT during the Nativity Fast. This is a good idea, and it works for some – as a pastor, I am in favor of almost anything that will get the dust off the bible in the home.

 

This got me to thinking, and I thought of another challenge – the “Jesus Prayer Challenge”. I am not trying to be gimmicky, because I hate that stuff, but as they say, I am “serious as a heart attack”. This is a longstanding COMMAND (read, not an optional “challenge”), and the church knows it is possible:

 

“Rejoice evermore.  (17)   Pray without ceasing.  (18)   In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1Th 5:16-18)

 

How do we attain this? It is very simple: become holy (simple does not mean easy). We are called to holiness, so this MUST be our goal:

 

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Mat 5:48)

 

The holy are always praying, or even something above this, which our Savior does not call prayer, because they have no passions which send their mind away from God, and are always with Him.

 

We will not be able to do this by next week, so we must become practical, and do what we are able to do now, so that we will become able to do what we are cannot  do.

 

Perhaps a slight rewording of the Apostle’s command will help us to make a practical application to his words:

 

“Pray whenever you are able to pray; search for opportunities to pray.”

 

 

The church has always understood the “Jesus prayer” to be uniquely suited to this endeavor. Anybody can pray this pray, as often as they want, if they put their mind to it, and plan to do it.

 

When we are waiting for a bus, or early to an appointment, or driving our car, or folding laundry, we CAN say: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” We can also teach ourselves to pray this prayer when we are getting ready to speak to someone about a difficult thing, or feeling anger rise up within us because of this or that thing.

 

We may not be able to pray each prayer with attention, but we can try; how can we learn to be attentive without long periods of struggling against inattention?

 

What is stopping us? There are external things – the TV being on (a brick will fix that), listening to the radio in the car, the busyness of life, lack of planning. There are internal things – our passions and the noise in our head, laziness, desire for entertainment, mindlessness. We cannot fix the latter without doing something about the former.

 

We need to plan in order to pray. Focus on one time during the day when you are not so occupied that you cannot pray – for instance, when you are driving, or doing the dishes, or folding laundry. It must be some task that does not take a lot of mental effort; you will have difficulty saying the prayer when you are doing your math homework or balancing the checkbook!

 

Say the prayer, silently, or aloud, slowly, and with as much attention as you can muster. You may pray for yourself, or others. If you pray for yourself, say

 

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

 

When we pray for someone else, we should leave the last part and say:

 

 “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on (name).”

 

 

It is really useful to have a prayer rope (chotki, komouskini) to count prayers. It does not matter how many we say, but it is very helpful to hold the rope and advance one bead with each prayer, to have a set amount per person, or even just to keep a sense of rhythm.

 

I have a prayer rope and use it in the car (it should be small, and held in such a way that you can drop it immediately if you need to steer out of a road hazard). This is a perfect time to pray for my family and parish. I find the simplicity of the prayer comforting and it is easier to pray with attention. I never have been one to try to remember what everybody needs and mention everything. God knows, and asking for mercy, that is His help in all things, really covers everything!

 

Some people need to mention things – sickness, or protection during travel, etc. That’s ok, but a little bit dangerous, because we are simultaneously attempting to pray and judge at the same time. Perhaps we feel a person needs something, and our judgment is wrong? Or perhaps we are so busy thinking of the next thing to say instead of just praying with attention? I remember those long lapses in the “In Jesus Name” prayers that are so common in the Protestant tradition so many years ago. They were very jarring. Do everything you can to pray without making a huge mental effort in thinking (prayer is not done with the brain, it is an expression of the soul), or you will tire. Everyone’s limitations in this regard are different. My simple mind needs quiet, and simplicity, otherwise, there is too much distraction in my head. You need to find what suits you.

 

Praying in the car is a wonderful way to “redeem the time” [1], and also to train ourselves in the discipline of prayer. What else do we really need to do when we drive? We certainly do not need the radio on – most of the information is useless, vapid and stupid, and it steals from us the opportunity to pray.

 

I have not always been equal to the task. After a long day at work, my passions want time to “veg” out on my drive home. We are tired, and maybe a little cranky after a long day, and starting to pray instead of giving into laziness actually sucks more energy out of us, but after prayer, this energy returns with a bonus.

 

Try praying in the car instead of listening to the radio, or “vegging out”. If you have a long drive, try a set period of time that includes part of the drive, if the whole time seems too daunting to you. It is better to accomplish a little thing, rather than not do a big thing! You cannot get better at something without starting to do it.

 

You might want to have a list of family and others (including your pastor) whom you care about, and in whose lives you may have some influence. You could have a list of the sick, those in prison, or undergoing some trial. God knows all the particulars. You could pray some set number of prayers for each person, say 10 (many prayer ropes are divided by a large bead into tens) or 25 or some other number that is easy to count on your prayer rope.

 

Unlike the “New Testament Challenge” there is no end point in the command to pray without ceasing, accept, of course, our death. After that, if we have not cultivated the virtues and the desire AND action of prayer, where will we learn it?  

 

This command is possible, but only if we apply effort, planning, and prayer to it. May God help us.

 

One more thing. This is important. The “Jesus prayer” is the most simple and complex prayer. Christians have reached exalted states practicing this prayer, and also fallen headlong into hell by attempting to find mystical experiences in it before they changed enough morally. The “prayer of the heart” has been accomplished by those practicing the “Jesus prayer”, but except for exceptions as rare as hen’s teeth, these people were under strict obedience to an elder. There are very few “checks and balances” for a lay person who tries to copy what he sees in the Philokalia or other places, and achieve the “prayer of the heart”.

 

Don’t look for mystical experiences. Worry about praying in the way described above in every possible moment; this will take you a long time. The fruits of prayer, if accomplished with the following of the commandments and true humility, will lead to holiness, and your prayer will lead you towards the prayer of the heart. But first things first! Pray a lot, don’t waste time, and see where that takes you.

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at: http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-11-24-christian-life-skills-jesus-prayer+pray-without-ceasing+new-testament-challenge+jesus-prayer-challenge.doc

It is also on our BLOG

 

New Journal entries, homilies, etc. are on our Redeeming the Time BLOG:

 http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

 

Journal Archive: http://www.orthodox.net/journal

 

Blog posts & local parish news are posted to our email list. Go to here: http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church to join.

 

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL of the article. This content belongs to the author. We would love to hear from you with comments! (seraphim@orthodox.net)

 



[1] “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,  (16)  Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Eph 5:15-16 KJV)


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O Lord and Master of my life… a few words about the Prayer of St Ephrem.

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

 

 

 

The “Prayer of St Ephrem” is ubiquitous during Great Lent, and is used in all weekday services, and in prayers at home.

 

 

 

This prayer is much like the “Our Father”, in the following way. When the disciples asked the Lord to teach them to pray, He told them to “pray in this way”, and then recited the “Our Father”, thus giving us a model for how to pray and a prayer which perfectly fulfilled these principles. So should we treat the prayer of St Ephrem. Its content is truly sublime, and teaches us the right way to approach God in prayer, how to think of ourselves, and what to ask for. It also is a perfect prayer fulfilling these principles.

 

 

 

Everyone should say this prayer daily during the week in Great Lent. Because of the  physical way in which we say this prayer (it is done with bows and prostrations), it has the remarkable ability to put the soul in the right frame of mind.  One might even go so far to say that if the Prayer of St Ephrem has been prayed with attention at least once during the day,  and nothing else has been done, the Christian has prayed well.

 

 

 

The reality of our scattered, busy, distracted and often lazy lives is that we do not pray often enough, or with enough attention, or in the proper frame of mind. If a person is consistent in praying the prayer of St Ephrem, no matter how well he does in other prayer and spiritual reading, he has a “life line” and is grounded in the most important aspects of the way a Christian should conduct himself during Lent.

 

 

 

Of course, to just pray the prayer of St Ephrem is NOT enough for a Christian, but a pastor must prescribe “baby steps for baby feet” We all are in some measure “babies”, and all of us should pray this prayer, attentively, and carefully, without fail. The person who takes this advice to “come and see” will soon find the fruit of this practice.

 

 

 

The prayer of St Ephrem is found in any complete Orthodox prayer book. For instance, the “Jordanville prayer book” has this prayer in its Triodion section (page 166 in the latest printing). Our website has it in English and Slavonic with 4 sections per page so it can be printed, cut in quarters and inserted in a prayer book, in RTF and PDF formats.  It is part of  a dedicated page containing information about our Theology, Homilies, Services, and other Resources about Great Lent.

 

 

 

Other resources for this prayer include a catechetical talk about the prayer of St Ephrem.

 

 

 

Like anything worth doing, the prayer of St Ephrem takes some practice before we can receive the full benefit. There are bows AND prostrations during the prayer, and a certain number of repetitions. To someone who is accustomed to this prayer, the physical actions and specific repetitions free the mind and penetrate the soul. This can only be understood if it is done, else, a person will consider the prayer to be too complicated, or worse, an example of “vain repetition”, which the scripture forbids. He who has ears to hear, and mouth to speak, arms to make the sign of the cross, and knees to bend, let him understand!

 

 

 

The prayer of St Ephrem is said two different ways in church. The best way to say it at home is the “longer” way, twice a day, in morning and evening prayers. If a person only prayers in the morning, than once. If both times, then twice. If a person is not organized or motivated enough to say formal morning of evening prayers, at least this prayer can be said. As my father used to say, Once or twice, but never “nunce”!

 

 

 

 

This is the “long way”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The prayer is said two times, one time in parts, and the last time in full. After each part, or the entire prayer, a prostration is made. In between the two “O God cleanse me a sinner” is said twelve times, with a bow each time. This is easy to remember after doing it a few times.  Two prayers, four prostrations, twelve bows (and 100 calories burned).

 

 

 

“O Lord and Master of my life, a spirit of idleness, despondency, ambition, and idle talking give me not.“

 

 

 

Prostration

 

 

 

“But rather a spirit of chastity, humble-mindedness, patience, and love bestow upon me Thy servant.“

 

 

 

Prostration.

 

 

 

“Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my failings and not condemn my brother; for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.“

 

 

 

Prostration.

 

 

 

Then, twelve repetitions of:

 

 

 

“O God, cleanse me a sinner.”  

 

Bow.

 

 

 

And then repeat the entire prayer all at once:

 

 

 

“O Lord and Master of my life, a spirit of idleness, despondency, ambition, and idle talking give me not. But rather a spirit of chastity, humble-mindedness, patience, and love bestow upon me Thy servant. Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my failings and not condemn my brother; for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.”

 

 

 

 Prostration. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Prostration is a full bow to the ground with the knees touching the ground, and the head touching or near the ground, then immediately standing back up. As the bow to the ground is begun, the sign of the cross is made. Some people touch their knees to the ground first and then bend their upper body down, and the more athletic or coordinated essentially “fall” forward to the ground  with their knees and hands touching at essentially the same time. This is very similar to the familiar gym class “burpee”.

 

 

 

A Bow, also known as a “reverence” or “Poklon” is when the sign of the cross is made, while simultaneously bowing the head by bending at the waist. Some bow deeply and touch the ground with their right hand, and other make very shallow bows. It really does not matter as long as the movement is done with attention.

 

 

 

Something NOT TO DO: No “waving at the air”. Some do prostrations and bows quickly or carelessly, and the sign of the cross they make looks like they are shooing away a fly. “Let all things be done in good order”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The author has many fond memories of saying this prayer way back when, when a layman, especially in church, or with his children. The church would be dark, and lit only by candles, the priest standing in front of the royal doors. It would be very quiet, and only his voice and “swishing” sounds from the prostrations or bows would be heard. Everybody would be doing the same thing at once; this was always a profoundly holy moment and I remember thinking sometimes that I wish I would always be in this state of mind.  There was a feeling that something profoundly good and important was happening. A mixture of sorrow for my personal condition and great hope in God that I really would get better sometime, would flood my soul. Many times I would even feel warmth. With the sublime, was always mixed “real life” – sounds of grunts, heavy breathing, the sights of children making very creative prostrations.  When I had to say the Trisagion prayers immediately after, I would sometimes struggle to say them without betraying that I was out of breath!

 

 

 

Parents: say this prayer with your children! I know, it is sometimes a “circus”, but where are they going to learn piety is not from you. Prayer is not always neat and pretty with children, but you will be glad you went to the trouble.

 

 

 

 

 

In another post, we will look at some of the profound theology in this prayer.

 

 

 

Here is the most important “take home” point: SAY THIS PRAYER EVERY WEEKDAY IN GREAT LENT!

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

This document is available at http://www.orthodox.net/greatlent/o-lord-and-master-of-my-life-prayer-of-st-ephrem-01.html. It is also in DOC or PDF format.

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17th Sunday of Pentecost 2008 – The Canaanite Woman – Lessons in how to pray.

Monday, October 13th, 2008

LISTEN NOW

Many more homilies for this day:

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-17_1997.html
17th Sunday of Pentecost (HTML format)
1997

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-17_1999+sun-after-exaltation-the-caananite-woman.doc
17th Sunday of Pentecost (Word DOC format)
Sun After Exaltation The Caananite Woman
1999

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-17_2001.rtf
17th Sunday of Pentecost (RTF format)
2001

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-17_2002+the-cannanite-woman.mp3
17th Sunday of Pentecost (mp3 format)
The Cannanite Woman
Matthew 15:21-28
2002

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-17_2003.mp3
17th Sunday of Pentecost (mp3 format)
2003

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-36_2008-02-03+the-canaanite-woman+a-perfect-example-of-how-to-pray_matthew15;21-28.mp3
17th Sunday of Pentecost
The Canaanite Woman
A Perfect Example Of How To Pray
Matthew 15:21-28
2008

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pentecost-sunday-17_2008-10-12.mp3
17th Sunday of Pentecost (mp3 format)
The Canaanite Woman
Lessons in how to pray.
Matthew 15:21-28
2008
 

Matthew 15:21-28 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. 28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.



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“Just do it”, from a church father

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

I have a bit of a hobby that I have indulged in all of my Orthodox life. I love to find things in secular culture that are actually true and sensible. I have lists of these things squirreled away in some GoogleDocs document, for later publishing on this BLOG. There are song lyrics, advertising slogans, and more than a few of my own sayings. Those who know me would expect to see a Neil Young lyric or two, and they would not be disappointed.

Here is one of those things – a secular saying that has an Orthodox application.

“JUST DO IT” is a slogan for Nike shoes. It is good advice, if one reads it in the right way.

I have modified it somewhat in my own life, when I am confused and/or lazy and/or overwhelmed and/or suffering from a day which is not very spiritual, and I cannot quite figure out how to get it that way. Has anybody had this sort of day?

My modification is: “Do something!” This idea has served me well, and I advise my flock to also “Do something!” because it is sound spiritual advice. We may not pray as well as we should, but at we should at least pray! We may not had a productive fast day, but we can at least fast! The key is to do something, and not do nothing. Something, in the spiritual life, is always better than nothing.

Here is this same idea, expressed by a church father:

…”A thought comes to me which troubles me and does not leave me free, but not being able to lead me to act, it simply stops me progressing in virtue; but a vigilant man would cut it off and get up to pray.” Abba Theodore of Scetis

Perhaps the perfection of the phrases “Just do it!” Or “Do something!” would be: “GET UP AND PRAY!” Good related advice would be “Even if you have already been up for a long time and have not prayed, GET U P AND PRAY!

I read the quote from an excellent resource: “A Word from the desert” I receive it in email, but prefer it in my RSS Reader (I use Google) I highly recommend that you get into the habit of reading these daily quotes. Subscribe to the RSS feed from this page: http://wordfromthedesert.squarespace.com/meditations/

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???? ? ???? / The Path to God

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

The way to God is prayer. A soul that is healed from sin years for prayer, strives for union with God through prayer — And yet we pray so little! We attend church infrequently, and we have become so unaccostomed to our personal prayer rule that is is a burden to us. We can find time for anything except prayer!

-a loose translation of the original text (below) by Archimandrite John (Krestyankin)


???? ? ???? — ???????. ???? ???? ?????????????? ?? ?????, ??? ??????? ? ???????, ????????? ? ???????? ? ??? ? ?????. ? ?? ?????? ???? ???????! ????? ????? ? ????, ???????? ??????? ?????? ????? ??? ? ?????????????? ???????. ?? ??? ??????? ???????, ?????? ?? ?? ???????!

-??????????? ????? (?????????????).

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/put/080517100043

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The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

This week’s readings from the first two chapters of the book of Isaiah marvelously describe both the realities of our fallen condition and God’s mercies. The prophet seems to alternate between speaking of Israel’s (and our) unfaithfulness to God, and God’s promise of salvation. This verse, “the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day,” illustrates an essential condition of that salvation: we must not seek our own glory, but God’s. In everything we do, we should proclaim and sing the glory of God. This is the essence of our church services – unceasing reflection on God, continual praise of Him, of His love and of His plan for our salvation. St. Paul enjoins us to come together with “psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs.” This should be our attitude toward the divine services. Through the voice of the readers and singers, we can together send up praise and thanksgiving to God, to whom be glory, now and forever.

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Thoughts on the Scriptures – 38th (33nd) Saturday after Pentecost

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

In today’s Gospel reading, our Lord tells us a parable about the importance of continual, persistent prayer. We saw this same lesson in action in the few Sunday Gospels, when both the blind man and the woman of Canaan persistently cried out, “Son of David, have mercy on me,” despite all manner of reproofs. Now, we hear the same lesson directly from the mouth of our Lord.

How are we to understand this parable? Are we to think of God as an unjust judge who hearkens unto us only because we trouble him? Certainly not – rather, our Lord is using an earthly example to teach us a lesson about God. We cannot understand God’s perspective, so we are presented with a human perspective. And truly, if even the unjust judge avenged the widow eventually, “shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” We may not understand God’s actions in our lives, and we may not be able to see the answers to our prayers because our eyes are clouded by sin – but we know by faith that God does hear our prayers, and that prayer itself unites us closer to him. For this reason, we must cling to prayer, praying persistently in season and out. St. James tells us, “Draw near unto God, and He will draw near unto you,” and instructs that we pray to God always – giving thanks and glory to him in good times, and beseeching his help in bad times. And we know that he will hear us.

Tomorrow’s Gospel reading, about the publican and the pharisee, will tell us more about prayer – it will show us how to pray. Remarkably, the first words in the Lenten Triodion – the book of hymns and prayers for Great Lent – are “brethren, let us not pray….” They go on, of course: “Brethren, let us not pray as the pharisee.” (We will sing these words at tonight’s Vigil Service.) In other words, let us not pray in a prideful manner, giving thanks for our supposed virtues, but let us rather emulate the humility of the publican, the blind man, and the Canaanite woman, crying out, “Lord, have mercy!”

Reading:
Luke 18:2-8

2 There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

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36th Sunday after Pentecost – Matthew 15:21-28 – The Canaanite Woman: A Perfect Example Of How To Pray

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

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Matthew 15:21-28: Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.


If the “LISTEN NOW” link does not work, copy this URL into your browser:
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If this file does not work for you, try the direct link to the actual mp3 file:
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