My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
WHEN GOD HEARS OUR PRAYER
When we prepare to pray, we must first make peace with everyone to whom we have done evil, and even with those who have anything against us, and after that, with reverence and attention, stand for prayer. During prayer we must direct our mind so that it does not think about anything else, so that our heart wishes only one thing: to prayer better and please God.
If we pray without making peace with our neighbor, if we pray hurriedly, if we talk or laugh during prayer, then our prayer will not be pleasing to God. God will not hear such a prayer, and He might even punish us.
For more diligent and intense prayer, and for a good pious life, fasting has been established. The time of fasting, or Lent, is the period when we must think more about God, about our sins before God, when we must pray more, repent, not get upset or hurt anyone, but rather, help everyone, read God's law, and so on. And to make it easier to fulfill all this we must first of all eat less -- not eat any meat, eggs, or milk, that is, animal and dairy products, but eat only "Lenten" food, that is, from plants: bread, vegetables, fruit and fish (if allowed).
We can pray to God everywhere because God is everywhere: at home, in church, on every path. The Christian must pray every day, morning and evening, before and after eating, before and after every kind of work. This kind of prayer is called prayer at home or private prayer.
According to Saint John Chrysostom "Prayer is the beginning of every good thing, and the mediator of salvation and eternal life. The greatest thing we have to say about prayer is that every praying person converses with God Himself, and this to the extent that, being human, one can speak with God...One cannot adequately express in words this honor. For this honor exceeds even the magnificence of the Angels themselves...At the time of prayer we are forgetful of our human nature, considering ourselves to be in the midst of Angels and carrying out the same worship as they. For all the other things are very different and separated--I mean between us and the Angels--but the work of prayer is common to both Angels and humans.
For what more saintly things can happen to those who converse with God? What more righteous? What more modest and becoming? What more wise? Prayer and supplication fills them with so much wisdom, so much virtue, and understanding, and goodness, and prudence and gracious manners!
It is impossible for man to be able to carry on a divine conversation without the activity of the Holy Spirit, and that is why this activity must be present and associated with the sacred struggle (of prayer). Thus, we are enabled to bend the knees, to petition and to pray...Therefore, when you are aware that not only are you speaking with God but are also receiving the energy of the Holy Spirit to sanctify the soul, you will not allow the devil any entry whatsoever into your soul, when you begin to pray.
He who is subservient to the passions is truly conversing with the demons and is desirous of these attractions, while he who is prudent and struggles to be righteous is in the company of Angels and strives to acquire their magnificence.
It seems to me that if one were to say that prayers are like nerves to the soul, he would speak truly. For, I think, that as the nerves hold together the body and enable it to run, to stand, to live and to be firm...in a similar manner the holy prayers make the souls competent, able to stand together, and to run the race of piety with great facility.
Should you deprive yourself from prayer, it would be the same as if you removed a fish from the water; for as the water is life to the fish, so is prayer to you. Through prayer, as if through water, one may ascend and go beyond the heavens to be in the nearness of God.
For who is it that does not know that the light of the sun, the stars, and the moon, the temperate seasons, the great variety of foods, wealth, life, and a myriad of good things are granted by god similarly to all people, because of His love for mankind, which He has for us? If God then is so merciful and gives rest each day to those who do not even petition or ask, how many more good things are they likely to enjoy who occupy their whole life in prayers and supplications to God?
In remembering prayer, Saint Paul is the first worthy of mention. Saint Paul was the insatiable worshiper of God, the common father and the ancestor of the servants of Christ. He, then, the guardian of the ecumene, who saved all the nations through prayer and supplications, is always saying to us: "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory He may grant you to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (Ephesians 3:14-17). Do you see the power of prayer and supplication? It makes people to be temples of Christ...Thus prayer makes temples of God, for he says "that Christ may dwell in your hearts." What greater praise can be said for prayer than to affirm that it creates temples of God? The One Whom the heavens cannot contain, may enter a living soul through prayer.
Prayer is cause for salvation, mediation for the immortality of the soul, an unbreakable rampart of the Church, an unshakeable guardian, fearful to the demons but salutary to the pious.
When prayer enters into the souls, every other virtue will enter also. For what the foundation is for the house, this is what prayer is for the soul. And it is necessary to have prayer, as a basis and sort of root implanted first in everyone so that all may be able to also cultivate prudence, meekness, righteousness, care for the poor and all the commandments of Christ, through Whom and with Whom glory and dominion be to the Father together with the Holy Spirit unto the ages of ages. Amen."
Saint John of the Ladder (Climacus) writes the following on prayer: "The quality and the grace of prayer which is done, as it should, with fervent love and desire for God, has so much great power, that it unites human beings (creatures) with their Creator and raises their mind to be inseparably bonded with Him. The energy of such prayer, moreover, can hold the world together and keep it from being annihilated by the many sins done each day.
This prayer is remission and forgiveness of sins, a bridge that separates and frees man from temptations and dangers and transports him to freedom and rest; it is a wall of separation which obstructs the grief of the passions both of men and of demons, and does not permit them (the demons) to enter into us and to torment us; it is a celestial activity that nourishes all the Angels and the Saints; it is the endless joy and delight of the righteous; it is the virtue which must never cease; it is a source from which spring all good things; it is a mediator for all the gifts; an invisible progress in the heart; a table of noble souls that is unfailing in providing spiritual food; a perpetual illumination of the mind; a heavenly Light; an axe that cuts off and dispels despondency; it is the proof of the hope the soul has in God and for this reason it prays; it is the antidote to and the release from sorrow; it is the wealth of the monastics who practice it with contrition; it is the great treasure of the hesychasts who study it thoroughly; it is the reduction and disappearance of anger; it is the mirror which reflects the degree of success in good things for the praying person; it is the revealer of the soul in love with God; the torch of the inner spiritual condition of man; it is a door through which the Angelic Light then into the praying persons and reveals to them the hidden mysteries of God; it is the messenger of the eternal honor and of the gifts of the beloved servants of God. And to put it even more briefly, prayer creates such a great activity in the soul that is captivated to rejoice with all of its heart and to be aware that it is standing before the tribunal and the Throne of God; and it is examined for its sins, as if it were that fearful hour of the Great Judgment, so the soul is judged and grieving and seeking correction, in order that in the future judgment it may be found free from the wrath of God and the condemnation of its sins."
It is unthinkable for the Orthodox Christian not to have a prayer life. God loves you and desires to speak with you, to guide you, to protect you from the evil one, to illuminate your soul, to strengthen your faith, to enter into your heart and bestow His Grace upon you.
It is most important that all of you have in your possession an Orthodox Prayer Book to help you establish a prayer regiment and learn the different prayers for the various occasions.
Begin to pray, "Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from the evil one. For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and forever and from all ages of all ages. Amen.
PRAYER OF SAINT EPHRAIM THE SYRIAN
O Lord and Master of my life, Give me not a spirit of laziness, of aimless curiosity, A spirit of lust for power over others and of vain talk.
Rather, grace me Your servant, With the Spirit of purity, humility, patience and love.
Yes, O Lord King, Grant me discernment to see my own faults, And not to judge and condemn my fellow human beings.
For You are Blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.
O Holy Apostles and all Saints Intercede for us To be delivered from dangers and sorrows; For we have you as fervent intercessors In the presence of the Savior.
In your compassion we take refuge, O Theotokos, Do not overlook our requests and circumstances, But deliver us from dangers, For you are the only pure, the only Blessed.
A CONTRITE PRAYER TO THE LORD
+In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
O Christ our God, At all times and at every hour, in heaven and on earth, You are worshipped and glorified; You are long-suffering, Most Merciful, Most compassionate, You love the righteous and have mercy upon the sinners; You call everyone to salvation through the promise of future blessings; Receive, O Lord, our prayers at this hour And direct our life toward Your Commandments. Sanctify our souls; make our bodies chaste; Correct our thoughts; purify our intentions; And deliver us from every grief and pain that comes from evil. Encompass us by Your Holy Angels, So that guarded and guided by them We may attain to the unity of the faith And to the knowledge of your inapproachable glory, For You are Blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--St. John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God