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.
PRAYER IS A POWERFUL WEAPON
by Saint Paisios of the Holy Mountain
"Much Prayer Is Needed"
In the past, in order to do something, a worldly person would think. If he were a spiritual person, he would think and pray. In our time, even "spiritual" people not only don't pray, they don't even think. In fact, this frequently involves serious matters, and all they do is practice on people. In all circumstances, before we act we should say, "Have I thought about this? Have I prayed about this?" When someone acts without thinking and without praying, he acts satanically. And you often see many Christians acting in a way that doesn't allow God to intervene. They imagine that they can manage everything by themselves. Whereas even an unbeliever may say an occasional "God will provide", the "believer" won't. Someone may have strong objections, for example, to the carnival and try to attack it directly, whereas he can pray and God will pour down such hail that it will scatter everyone and cancel every activity. Or, let's say, some people criticize a bishop and the others make an appeal to the Council of State. But they don't even stop there. They go on to have demonstrations, disturbances, articles in the newspaper...An endless array of human efforts that leave no room for God to act. They don't resort to prayer, for God to respond through prayer. With humility and prayer all the seemingly unsolved problems can be corrected.
Today we live in apocalyptic times. It doesn't take a prophet to understand this. Things are moving fast. What awaits us, we don't know. That a crisis is coming is clear from the current situation. And this is one more reason from the current situation. And this is one more reason why we must rely more on prayer and fight evil with prayer. This is the only solution. We must appeal to God to have mercy on His creation--although we are unworthy of His pity. There will be no end to the problems. Everyone will do whatever comes into his head. What Saint Cosmas said will take place: "One will walk for hours to find a human being: and those who survive will be eating with golden spoons." Of course, some think: "Since the prophecies will be fulfilled anyway, what's the use of prayer?" God sees events unfolding in this manner, but we still pray for some evil to be less harmful and to be limited in scope. That's why it is written in the Gospel that "for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened (cf., St. Matthew 24:22; St. Mark 13:20). For example, in a war a miracle takes place through the power of prayer, more people are saved, there are fewer casualties, in which case people are helped spiritually, believe and are transformed in the good sense of the term.
This situation is serious. It is a miracle that the world is still here and hasn't been blown to pieces. May God put His hand upon the world and save it, for the whole world depends on three or four individuals. The fate of the world is in the hands of a few madmen. The proverb says, "The horses kick and the chickens die." That's how it is. When the great countries fight each other, it's the small countries that suffer injustices. The large nations kick each other and the small ones are destroyed. Much, much prayer is needed to enlighten the great leaders of the world, for, if they want to, they can destroy the world. God can give them a little enlightenment very easily. If God enlightens, someone can give an order and everything changes.
PETITIONS IN PRAYER
--Geronda (Elder), with your blessing, tell us a few things for which we should be particularly praying.
--First of all, we should beseech God that our prayer will draw those who are now living and those who will live in the future to devotion to God. In my prayer I say, "Extend your mercy on those who know Thee and then I add, and on those who do not Thee." I even say, "Lord, save the impious." (Of course the Church has properly arranged to say, "Lord, save the pious," for the impious may be cursing the pious for praying for them.) When again the priest says, "For those who have asked us, unworthy though we be, to pray for them," I like to add and "for those who have not asked us to pray for them." Because we should pray for those who ask us and for those who don't ask us, for those we know and for strangers, too. There are so many thousands of people who have greater need and more serious problems than those who have asked us to pray for them. We should also pray for those who have suffered injustices, that justice may prevail, that grace may be given to those in prison that their sufferings may be transformed into opportunities for spiritual help.
When I put wood on the fire, I praise God and say, "My God, provide warmth for those who don't have it." When again I burn the letters people send me--I read them and burn them because they contain private material and personal confessions--I say, "May God burn up all their flaws; may He help them lead a spiritual life and sanctify them." I also make it a habit to ask the Saints to protect the people who bear their name, and the Communion of Saints to protect those without a Patron Saint.
--Geronda (Elder), which is better, to ask for God's mercy in general, or to refer to specific and concrete requests in accordance with "Ask, and it shall be given you" (St. Matthew 7:7)
--You should pray in general and say, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on those who are suffering in body and in spirit." This prayer includes those who have fallen asleep in the Lord. When someone you know comes to mind, say a prayer for him, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on your servant so-and-so," and then move on to a prayer for everyone, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon the whole world." You may, of course, bring to mind someone who is in need and pray a little for that person, but then you should say, "Lord Jesus Christ have mercy upon us" and be pained for everyone so the train (i.e., the prayer) doesn't leave with only one passenger. We shouldn't get caught up with one person and then be unable to help either ourselves or others with our prayer. For instance, when you pray for a cancer patient, pray for all cancer patients, and add a prayer for all those who have already fallen asleep in the Lord. Or when you encounter some unfortunate person, let your mind and heart reach out immediately to all the unfortunate people and pray for them. As a child I remember a beggar who died outside a Turkish home, ten meters away from out home. His name was Petros. The Turkish woman found him in the morning lying outside her home and nudged him to get up; she then realized he had died. I still remember him in my prayer. How many such "Petros" are there in the world!
When we think of specific matters and see that our fellow human beings are suffering, our heart is moved, and we benefit from this. Thus, our pained heart can move from specific matters to the more general and provide greater help through prayer of the heart...
"...There are many who are working and they're working hard. Some are working for the good of the Church and of the State. Others are working to bring about harm; they stay awake searching for ways to destroy the world. Still others band together to find ways to prevent the previous ones from doing evil. Others again work day and night to find solutions to the solutions to the general problems of the world. Pray then that God may enlighten even the evildoers to do less evil, or prevent them altogether from doing anything evil. Pray that God enlightens the good people to help the world. Pray for those who want to work but cannot because they are sick. Pray for the healthy who need work but cannot find any. Think of the various cases that may exist and pray for their solution. When the mind goes out to all of these people, the heart is stirred by the pain and suffering and then the Prayer becomes prayer of the heart. There are so many people who have a need in the course of the day. There should be no waste of time. From the person who doesn't have a great need for prayer--regardless of whether he thinks he does--one can move on to think of all those whose need is greater. Thus help comes to the one who thought he had need, because he became the cause for the other person to pray for many. (Source: Spiritual Awakening, by Saint (Elder) Paisios of Mount Athos, Spiritual Counsels II)
(Next: Help Through Prayer)
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!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Theophany,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God