“PRAY FOR US” (Hebrews 13: 18)

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

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

"PRAY FOR US" (Hebrews 13:18)

It is out of brotherly agape that we pray for one another. These prayers are referred to as "intercessory prayers." In the First Epistle to Timothy Chapter 2:1. Saint Paul writes, "Therefore I exhort first of all that SUPPLICATIONS, PRAYERS, INTERCESSIONS, AND GIVING OF THANKS BE MADE FOR ALL MEN, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence." It is clear that intercessory prayers to be offered for all without partiality, but especially to pray for those in "authority." Thus, Orthodox Christians repeatedly pray for "all civil authorities."

There can be no spiritual life without godly prayer. Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ commands us to pray secretly, not to be seen by men (Matthew 6:5-6). It is prohibited for the Christian to become a spectacle and engage in spiritual showmanship. The secret "room" (Matthew 6:6) is a believer’s innermost being; so praying secretly is perfectly consistent with praying everywhere. Orthodox Christians are able to experience the fullness of sincere and devout prayer wherever they may be. Therefore, we pray always (Luke 18:1), "WITHOUT CEASING" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We must proceed to pray using words that come from the heart to seek God Himself. When we pray we do not lecture the Lord our God or make outright demands, but we are humble. It is not repetition per se, but VAIN REPETITION which Our Lord Christ condemns.

We pray not only for ourselves and for our own needs for the welfare of all. We offer prayers of intercession for the good of all people, good and bad. We are taught by our Lord Christ that "For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45). By speaking in this manner Christ offers the greatest possessions of all– PERFECT AGAPE. That is a gift that can only be possessed by the one who, by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, manifests God’s agape for all people. Such agape calls us to "bless, do good, and pray–even for enemies. Agape for our fellow man is the sign of having become a true child of the Most High God.

It is a natural practice for Orthodox Christians to involve the Saints of the Holy Church and seek their intercessory prayers for us and others. What we, Orthodox Christians, are really requesting is that the Saint pray on our behalf, to intercede before God for mercy and forgiveness of our transgressions and for our salvation. Knowing that the Saints have been blessed and by the grace of God have attained holiness they become our ambassadors but not our advocates. There is a fundamental difference between the Advocacy of our Lord and that of the Saints: the Advocacy of Jesus Christ is a PROPITIATORY ONE. He is our ADVOCATE when we sin having made Himself the propitiation of our sins, Who paid the wages of sin on our behalf. He stands as the ONLY MEDIATOR between God and men. Saint Paul the holy Apostles says: "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. And He is the propitiation for our sins and not for our sin only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:1-2).

Saint Paul writing to the Hebrews says, "But He because He continues forever, has an unchanging Priesthood. Therefore, He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make INTERCESSIONS FOR THEM" (Hebrews 7:25). We believe in and through Our Savior Jesus Christ, we can intercede before God for one another. Our Lord Christ commands us to pray for one another for all the world (1 Timothy 2:1-4; James 5:16-18). The prayer of our intercession has no boundaries and we can supplicate our Creator and God for any and every kind of healing, guidance, the forgiveness of sins, mercy, and salvation. "Pray for one another," writes Saint Paul, "Confess your trespasses to one another, and PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER, THAT YOU MAY BE HEALED. THE EFFECTIVE, FERVENT PRAYER OF A RIGHTEOUS MAN AVAILS MUCH" (James 5:16). Historically in the early Church tradition when a Christian had committed a grave sin, the matter was confessed before THE WHOLE CHURCH AS AN ACT OF REPENTANCE. Thus, the Church has effected healing through such deeds of faith as confession of sins and THE POWER OF INTERTERCESSORY PRAYER.

Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church bestows the title of "saint" (lowercase s) on anyone who has lived and died in Christ throughout the centuries. While certain Saints (capital S) are formerly glorified and commemorated by the Orthodox Church, every baptized Orthodox Christian is considered a saint, as a member of the Royal Priesthood that Jesus Christ established with the founding of the Holy Church, He being the Head. The Saints who received GLORIFICATION stand out as par excellent examples for those of us who strive to live life in Christ God.

"Finally, brethren, PRAY FOR US, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men, for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the EVIL ONE. (2 Thessalonians 3:1-3). When we pray for each other we pray as the body of Christ, as brothers and sisters in Christ, and as friends in Christ. We are a Christian Community and a Christian spiritual family. We share a common faith in Christ and are true disciples of Christ Jesus. We love and care for one another and we support one another in preaching the Gospel of Christ. We are much stronger in our efforts to serve Him and our fellow man and those who seek the Truth and salvation.

The holy Apostle John exhorts us, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who DOES NOT LOVE DOES NOT KNOW GOD, FOR GOD IS LOVE. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him" (1 John 4:7-9). As the Only-begotten Son sacrificially gave Himself "that we might live through Him" so we are to give ourselves to Him and to "one another."

_____________

"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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