“…WHEN YOU PRAY, DO NOT USE VAIN REPETITIONS…” (St. Matthew 6:7)

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

Christ is in our midst! He was, is, and ever shall be.

"And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen
do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
Therefore do not be like them. For your Father KNOWS THE
THINGS YOU HAVE NEED OF BEFORE YOU ASK Him" (St. Matthew 6:7-8).

"Then they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden that afternoon, and Adam
and his wife hid themselves within the tree in the middle of the garden FROM THE PRESENCE
OF THE LORD GOD. So the Lord God called Adam and said to him, ‘Adam, WHERE ARE YOU?’
He REPLIED, ‘I HEARD YOUR VOICE AS YOU WERE WALKING IN THE GARDEN, AND I WAS
AFRAID SO I HID MYSELF.’ (Genesis 3:8-10).

Adam, the first human, was FORMED (created) by God "OUT OF DUST FROM THE GROUND, AND BREATHED IN HIS FACE THE BREATH OF LIFE; AND MAN BECAME A LIVING SOUL" (Genesis 2:7). Lest man forgets Who the Creator is and who the creature is. God FORMED Adam’s body "OUT OF DUST FROM THE GROUND". The "BREATH OF LIFE" is the Grace of God the Holy Spirit, "The Giver of Life" (The Creed). The Lord God breathed THE BREATH OF LIFE into man’s body and he became "A LIVING SOUL." The first man, Adam, was a living soul because he possessed a body and a soul, and the Grace of God the Holy Spirit.

It is established by the biblical account above that there was indeed a true and real COMMUNION between God and man. There was never any question that Adam and Eve were in "PRESENCE OF THE LORD GOD." How glorious and fearful, at the same time, that must have been! God desired to have this unique relationship with His creatures for all eternity. However, as we all know through the disobedience of Adam to God’s command regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he fell from God’s grace and the path to perfection, separating himself from His Creator, the Source of Life. However, God the Creator NEVER ABANDONED HIS CREATURE and His unconditional love for him never diminished. Through His Beloved Son, His Death, and Resurrection conquered the devil and death, freeing mankind from the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15) and making possible a more complete communion between God and man. This communion allows people to become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter1:4), to transcend death and ultimately, all the consequences of the Fall.

While on earth and during His earthly Ministry, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ taught us to pray rightly , and not as "the heathen." We must all pray "in this manner,"

Our Father 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 debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into
temptation,
But deliver us from the evil
one.
For Thine is the Kingdom and
the power and they glory
forever. Amen.

We must not pray hypocritically. True prayer originates from the heart and reveals a profound, intimate, and a sincere personal love relationship with our Creator and God. What unites us with Him is none other than agape. After all, He is Our Father and not some stranger. This intimate relationship leads us to the vision of His glory (1 Corinthians 2:9, "But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those WHO LOVE Him." Let us never forget that God IS LOVE! It is very clear, and it should be common sense after all, that we can never understand God or His ways. Saint Paul emphasizes this point when he says, "NO ONE KNOWS THE THINGS OF God except the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 2:11).

There is not, or will ever be, a more beautiful and greater prayer than the Lord’s Prayer. It is extremely important that when we pray, that we pray with the right spirit and understanding. The Lord Himself says: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened" (St. Matthew 7:7-8), promises the availability of God’s help. We can never be discouraged by what we perceive as God’s delay in answering our prayer. Geronda [Elder] Ephraim, of blessed memory, would always encourage the faithful no matter what, to continue praying, to continue asking, to continue seeking and never, but never, to be discouraged and give up. We ask in prayer; seek by learning God’s truth; and knock by doing God’s will.

We ought to know, however, that no one can begin to pray to the Almighty God without a profound and sincere faith. The Lord Jesus Himself said, "…I say to you, IF YOU HAVE FAITH AS A MUSTARD SEED, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and NOTHING WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOU" (St. Matthew 17:20). Faith, my good friends, IS A GIFT OF GOD. A special gift bestowed by Our Lord Jesus Christ which effects things beyone man’s power. But it is always based upon belief and trust. "And I was afraid," was Adam’s answer to God. Shoud we be afraid of God? Yes. Fear not terror. Fear that is born out of wonder, His Greatness, His awesome power, that God is a consuming fire, and understanding of Who God is and who we are. Fear knowing that God gives life and God can take life away.

In the Orthodox Christian Tradition there is a variety of different prayers that an Orthodox Christian can choose from for different occasions. We all know that our Church has Orthodox Prayer Books that are available for everyone’s personal use and edification. It is our practice when we pray to always include a brief petition i.e., ‘Kyrie eleison’ (‘Lord, have mercy’). For me, these two words are very significant and necessary. The words ‘Kyrie eleison’, although used as a petition to God, can be seen as a kind of prayer. When we say it with faith and conviction, it can be a most solemn and profound prayer. Just by saying these two words, we immediately acknowledge God as Lord and Master. That He rules over me, provides for me as an earthly lord provides and cares for his servant or slave. As Lord, I acknowledge, that He bought me for a high price, the Sacrifice on the Cross, and I belong to Him completely. I understand fully, that I am too be obedient to His every command and to serve Him obediently. In ancient times when someone bought a slave at the marketplace, his first act was to cut a lock of his hair to impress upon him or her that from that time on, he/she was his property and could do to him/her as he wished. What we are saying, and openly admitting, is that we belong entirely, and that we promise, to willingly be obedient to our Heavenly Lord and Savior. Furthermore, we acknowledge that everything depends and relies on the ‘eleos’ or ‘mercy’ of God. We humbly believe that we do not deserve or that we merit anything. A slave has ‘no rights’ and can never have any demands or expectations from his master; and neither can a Christian. Who do we think that we are to make any demands of God? We are only ‘dust’ and ‘soil’ from the earth. I sense, however, that some of us arrogantly and disrespectfully act as though we have the power to bring down God to our level, that we are equal, or even more blasphemous, that we are more superior to Him, and that we can judge Him and question His actions. Perhaps we think that we are so much greater than He and that we can even understand the Almighty; i.e., How He thinks, feels, and acts. Maybe we have the audacity (Gk. thrasos) to believe that we have authority over Him and can go as far as to dictate to Him what we want Him to do for us. Who? The Creator of the universe? How very foolish we are! Kyrie eleison!

Jesus used parables to communicate His Truth, however, one must have spiritual eyes to see and spiritual ears to hear, and even then are degrees of understnding of the parables. Parables challenge the hearer and call for faith to perceive the mysteries of God’s Kingdom and His Divine Gospel. He used the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican to explain the right way of praying. He said, "And the tax collector, standing far off, would NOT SO MUCH AS RAISE HIS EYES TO HEAVEN, BUT BEAT HIS BREAST, SAYING, ‘God, BE MERCIFUL TO ME A SINNER!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (St. Luke 18:13-14).

KYRIE ELEISON!

_________________

"Gloy Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

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