“REJOICE ALWAYS, PRAY WITHOUT CEASING, IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS…” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

"REJOICE ALWAYS, PRAY WITHOUT CEASING, IN
EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS; FOR THS IS THE WILL
OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS FOR YOU" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

The Holy Fathers of the Church teach that increasing prayer is a proper goal, for spiritual growth comes through such discipline. For centuries, Orthodox Christians have used the "Jesus Prayer" or "Prayer of the heart" as a way to PRAY WITHOUT CEASING FROM THE HEART: "O LORD JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, HAVE MERCY ON ME, A SINNER."

PRAYER is a universal, spiritual phenomenon, the fundamental and inseparable element of every religion and every personal piety. As such, prayer has appeared n the history of mankind with an astonishing multiplicity of forms and expressions that range from the most crude and primitive to the most spiritually sublime. Prayer presupposes FAITH in the reality and the presence of God, and means primarily THAT LIVING AND RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MAN AND THE ALMIGHTY AND ETERNAL GOD, WHICH IS NOTHING LESS THAN A DIRECT AND REAL SPIRITUAL CONTACT AND PERSONAL CONVERSATION BETWEEN PERSONS, BETWEEN AN "I" AND A "YOU." THE PERSON WHO PRAYS IS THE "I" AND THE GOD Who is addressed in prayer is the "You."

How to Pray

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Himself teaches us the correct way of praying: "And when you pray, you shall NOT be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But YOU, WHEN YOU PRAY GO INTO YOUR ROOM, AND WHEN YOU HAVE SHUT YOUR DOOR, PRAY TO YOUR FATHER WHO IS IN THE SECRET PLACE AND YOUR FATHER WHO SEES IN IN SECRET WILL REWARD YOU OPENLY. 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. IN THIS MANNER, THEREFORE, PRAY:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your Kingdom come,
Your 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
temptations,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the Kingdom and
the power and the glory
forever. Amen. [Matthew 6:5-13]

Saint John Chrysostomos in his homily On Prayer writes: "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…A 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 supplications 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 their attractions, while he who is prudent and struggles to be righteous IN 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 thes 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 worshipper of God, the common father and the ancestor of the seravants 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 ontain, 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 GAURDIAN, FEARFUL TO THE DEMONS BUT SALUTARY TO THE PIOUS.

When prayer enters into the souls, every other virtue will enter also. For what the foundaion is for the house, THIS IS WHAT PRAYER IS FOR THE SOUL. And it is necessary to have prayer, as a basis and a sort of root implanted first in everyone so that all may be able to also cultivate PRUDENCE, HUMILITY, 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 Neilos the Ascetic writes on Prayer:

"Do NOT pray for your wills to be done; for they do NOT always agree
with the Will of God. Rather, pray as you have been taught: "Thy Will be
done" in me. And everything ask God that this same will be done. For
He wants what is good and beneficial for your soul, while you do not
always seek this."

Saint John of the Ladder On Sacred and Blessed Prayer,
the Mother of Virtues

"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 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."

Saint Isaac the Syrian On Prayer

"When man BECOMES HUMBLE, he is at once encircled by the
mercy of God, and it is then that the heart becomes aware of
Divine interventions, and discovers a certain power of faith and
reassurance moving within itself. Again, when man becomes aware
of this Divine help and knows that it is within him and empowers
him, the heart is then directrly filled with joy and faith. It is from this
that man understands prayer to be a refuge of assistance, a source
of salvation and a treasury of reassurance and conviction, a haven
where man finds rescue from the tempatations, a light to those in
darkness, a staff of support for the infirm, a shelter at the time of
temptation, a madicinal help at the height of illness, a shield of
protection during UNSEEN WARFARE, an arrow aimed at demons,,,"

Saint Symeon the New Theologian On the Three Methods of Attention
and Prayer.

"There are three methods of attention and prayer, by which the soul may rise up
and make progress in prayer, or may fall and be lost…

First of all attention must be attached to and inseparable from prayer as the body is
inseparable from the soul, and one cannot stand without the other. Attention must
go ahead to scout out the enemies, and as an avant guard to do battle with sin
and to oppose the evil thoughts that attempt to enter into the soul…

The second method of attention and prayer is thte following: One gathers the mind
within the self, removing it from all sensory things wandering over the vain things of
this world. And at other times, again,, one may with much effort and difficulty become
aware in himself of some passion that may have come to rule over him…

The third method of attention and prayer is truly a marvellous thing but rather difficult
to explain. For those who are not familiar with this method, it is not only difficult to
explain it to them, they also find it virtually incredible to believe, and imagine that there
is no such thing, probably because in these times of ours this method is not found to
be used by many, but rather is rarely used by a few…it is OBEDIENCE TO ONE’S
SPIRITUAL FATHER WHICH MAKES A PERSON FREE FROM MANY CARES BECAUSE
HE HAS PLACED THEM ON THE SHOULDERS OF HIS SPIRITUAL FATHER, AND IS THUS
RELEASED FROM THE ATTACHMENTS OF THIS WORLD…"

Saint Gregory of Sinai on Various Texts On Prayer

"If a man is praying with his lips while his mind is wandering what benefit is this to him?
When one builds up and another pulls down, there is nothing left but useless labors. On
the contrary, as the body works in prayer, the mind is also obligated to do the same,
otherwise one will be found justified in the body, but his heart will be full of anxiety and
impurity…"

Saint Gregory Palamas On Prayer

"The power of prayer lies in nits holy work to bring to perfection the ascent of man to unite
him to God, and thus to be the bond between rational beings with their Creator, especially
when prayer, through fervent contrition, succeeds in transcending those passiones and
thoughts which tend to accompany prayer. For it is impossible for a passionate mind to be
united with God…" [Source: A Prayer Book. An Anthology of Orthodox Prayers]

__________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

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

+ Father George

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