August Fast: A Time of Prayer

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.

AUGUST FAST: A TIME OF PRAYER
Prayer is the light of the soul

By Saint John Chrysostom

"There is nothing more worthwhile than to pray to God and to converse with Him, for prayer unites us with God as His companions. As our bodily eyes are illumined by seeing the light, so in contemplating God our soul is illuminated by Him. Of course the prayer I have in mind is no matter of routine, it is deliberate and earnest. It is not tied down to a fixed timetable; rather it is a state which endures by night and day.

Our soul should be directed in God, not merely when we suddenly think of prayer, but even when we are concerned with something else. If we are looking after the poor, if we are busy in some other way, or if we are doing any type of good work, we should season our actions with the desire and the remembrance of God. Through this salt of the love of God we can all become a sweet dish for the Lord. If we are generous in giving time to prayer, we will experience it s benefits throughout our life.

Prayer is the light of the soul, giving us true knowledge of God. It is a link mediating between God and man. By prayer the soul is borne up to heaven and in a marvelous way embraces the Lord. This meeting is like that of an infant crying on its mother, and seeking the best of milk. The soul longs for its own needs and what it receives is better than anything to be seen in the world.

Prayer is a precious way of communicating with God, it gladdens the soul and gives repose to its affections. You should not think of prayer as being a matter of words. It is a desire for God, an indescribable devotion, not of human origin, but the gift of God's grace. As Saint Paul says: we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with signs too deep for words.

Anyone who receives from the Lord the gift of this type of prayer possesses a richness that is not to be taken from him, a heavenly food filling up the soul. Once he has tasted this food, he is set alight by an eternal desire for the Lord, the fiercest of fires lighting up his soul.

To set about this prayer, paint the house of your soul with modesty and lowliness and make it splendid with the light of justice. Adorn it with the beaten gold of good works and, for walls and stones, embellish it assiduously with faith and generosity. Above all, place prayer on top of this house as its roof so that complete building may be ready for the Lord. Thus He will be received in a splendid house and by grace His image will already be settled in your soul.

[A reading from the homilies of Saint John Chrysostom (Homily 6 on Prayer)]

A PRAYER

Give us the grace, Lord, to continue the works of penitence we have begun so that the Lenten (Fast) observance we have taken upon ourselves may be accomplished in sincerity of heart.

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It is not unusual for anyone during the prayer rule to say a handful of prayers and suddenly realize his or her mind has been completely absent from prayer -- thinking about certain events or people. It is almost common among the faithful to realize, at times, during the Divine Liturgy, where several minutes go by, or even a large portion of the divine service without paying attention to what is happening.

Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite says, "And so it happens; the most assiduous recital of prayer can never be practiced without the thought darting away and wandering outside. Since this disturbs the prayer and makes it impure, there is no man who practices prayer, who is not chagrined by it and does not wish to be delivered from this incapacity,"

Fortunately, the godly Saint Nikodemos does not leave us hopeless, but presents a "cure" for the wandering mind: saying several short prayers throughout the day.

The purpose of short prayers is to keep our mind on the perpetual presence of God with us and God within us. If we are completing a task that does not require our full concentration, then it is good to speak these prayers quietly (or with the lips or internally if we are around others) all throughout the day.

The most popular short prayer is, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on a sinner." otherwise known as the Jesus Prayer because its purpose is to draw our attention to Our Lord and remind us of our need for Him.

In addition to holding our attention on Christ throughout the day, these short "prayerful signings" also help our restless, wandering minds to calm down. Then, when we are standing for our prayer rule or attending a divine service, it is not such a monumental task to calm our mind and senses, for our hearts and minds are beginning to be in the habit of attuning to God's presence. Otherwise, attempting to calm a mind that is not normally reigned in throughout the day can be frustrating and is not impossible during prayer and services.

PRAYERS OF SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM

O Lord, deprive me not of Thy heavenly good things.
O Lord, deliver me from the eternal torments.
O Lord, if I have sinned in mind or thought, in word or deed, forgive me.
O Lord, deliver me from all ignorance, forgetfulness, faintheartedness, and stony insensibility.
O Lord, deliver me from every temptation.
O Lord, enlighten my heart which evil desire has darkened.
O Lord, as a man I have sinned, but do Thou, as the compassionate God, have mercy on me, seeing the infirmity of my soul.
O Lord, send Thy grace to my help, that I may glorify Thy Holy Name.
O Lord Jesus Christ, write me Thy servant in the Book of Life, and grant me a good end.
O Lord my God, even though I have done nothing good in Thy sight, yet grant me by Thy grace to make a good beginning.
O Lord, sprinkle into my heart the dew of Thy grace.
O Lord of heaven and earth, remember me Thy sinful servant, shameful and unclean, in Thy Kingdom. Amen.

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O Lord, accept me in penitence.
O Lord, forsake me not.
O Lord, lead me not into temptation.
O Lord, grant me good thoughts.
O Lord, grant me tears, remembrance of death, and compunction.
O Lord, grant me the thought of confessing my sins.
O Lord, grant me the humility, chastity, and obedience.
O Lord, grant me patience, courage, and meekness.
O Lord, implant in me the root of good, Thy fear in my heart.
O Lord, vouchsafe me to love Thee with all my soul and thoughts, and in all things to do Thy will.
O Lord, protect me from evil men, demons, passions, and from every other unseemly thing.
O Lord, Thou knowest that Thou doest as Thou wilt: Thy will be done also in me a sinner; for blessed art Thou unto the ages. Amen.

[Saint John Chrysostom's 24 prayers were copied from the Jordanville Prayer Book]

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JESUS IN GETHSEMANE WITH HIS DISCIPLES

"Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, 'Sit here while I pray.' And He took Peter, James and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, 'My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.' He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, 'Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.' Then He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, 'Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.'" (St. Mark 14:32-38).

Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church makes it possible, through the divine services throughout the ecclesiastical year, for all Orthodox Christians to pray as often as possible. In other words, to be in communion with God. How can anyone claim to have any kind of spiritual life and not have a prayer life? 

Please note: All Supplication services for the remaining days of the August Fast will take place at the Holy Dormition Chapel in New Carlisle

If you need directions contact the Church Office.

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George