Pray sincerely to the Heavenly Father; especially say the Lord’s Prayer, reverently, peacefully, not hurriedly: in general, read all the prayersquietly, evenly, with reverence, knowing before Whom you are saying them. ~ St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ)
My Life in Christ is a wonderful book… bursting with practical and spiritual tidbits. One can pick it up at any time and read small portions. It’s like a great golden dollop of butter accompanying our Daily Bread. I highly recommend owning a copy of these spiritual yum yums!
May we all have good and mindful dealings with those who surround us today, whether in person – or thought! With love in Christ.
Sunrise From Space Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay
We should refer all our problems, whatever they are, to God, just as we say in the Divine Liturgy that ‘we commend our whole life unto Christ our God’. We leave everything to You, Lord. Whatever You will. Let Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. ~ St. Porphyrios
The words ‘hallowed be Your name’ could well be understood in the sense that God is hallowed by our perfection. In other words, when we say ‘hallowed be Your name’ to Him what we are really saying is ‘Father, make us such as to deserve knowledge and understanding of how holy You are, or at least let Your holiness shine forth in the spiritual lives we lead. And this surely happens as men ‘see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven ‘ (St. Matthew 6:16). ~ St. John Cassian
‘May Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ (St. Matthew 6:10). No greater prayer can be offered than that the things of earth should be put on a level with the things of heaven… What else is this if not a declaration that men should be like angels, that just as the will of God is fulfilled by the angels in heaven so all men on earth should do, not their will, but His. The only man capable of offering up this prayer sincerely will be the one who believes that God arranges everything – the seeming good and the seeming bad – for our benefit, that the salvation and the well-being of His own people is more of a care and a concern to Him than to ourselves. ~ St. John Cassian
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one… Temptation is a test that is either sent to us from God or comes from the devil but is allowed by God. Every temptation is for us a kind of test of fortitude; sometimes we pass the test and sometimes we do not. In asking God, “…lead us not into temptation,” we are as it were saying to Him, “Do not send us trials beyond our strength; send us such trials as we can cope with, so that the trials and sorrows that Thou dost send, not crush us, not kill the faith within us…” …Therefore, when we ask God to …”deliver us from the evil one,” we ask He help us to always find the strength to refrain from what could enable the evil one to influence our life. If we learn this, neither the devil or any evil forces … can have any influence on us.” ~ Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeev)
A long-distance parishioners’ home’s beautiful Little Church during special prayers
Internal Prayer and the Jesus Prayer – Excerpts from our 2019 Parish Family Camp
In the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered. ~ Romans 8:26
St. Paul said it is necessary to attain a state of permanent prayer, to always pray. – …The Jesus Prayer is a short prayer containing many ideas in it, and by practicing repetition of the Jesus Prayer it is possible to attain a state of permanent prayer. The Lord’s Prayer is very long and contains many ideas. When repeating the Lord’s Prayer the mind focuses on the ideas so that prayer isn’t experienced by the heart. For prayer to be real it must not only be in the mind but also the heart and will (mind, heart, and will, are the three aspects of the soul). Real, permanent prayer does not come easily. It is necessary to make many very long and persistent efforts in order to attain permanent prayer. We must pray to learn to pray. If we attain permanent prayer we will be able to walk, talk, eat, drive, even sleep and still be constantly repeating the prayer. ~ Metropolitan Vitaly
The Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.”– Or “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” – Or “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on (Name).”
This simple, ancient prayer is rooted deeply in Church tradition and can be used anytime or anywhere. We recite it to permeate our hearts, to focus our minds, and help us follow God’s Will, instead of our own, usual, self-will. Prayer is the breath of the soul.
Begin by saying the Jesus Prayer sometimes, during the day or night. If the mind wanders, peacefully begin anew, attentively returning the heart again to the prayer. Ask God to calm the mind’s restlessness. Practicing this prayer with humility and patience, draws God’s grace to actively work within us.
Many Orthodox Christians use a prayer rope to help them concentrate as they repeat the Jesus Prayer. Prayer Ropes come in a great variety of forms and sizes. Some are knotted of wool or silk, others are made of wood. When you pray the prayer, hold the prayer rope with your left hand between the thumb and the index finger and move from knot to knot each time you say the prayer. In this way, your right hand is free to Cross yourself as needed while praying. St. Seraphim of Sarov once said the tassels at the end of some prayer ropes are for wiping away our tears. Of course, if we don’t have a prayer rope, we can still pray this prayer.
It’s not the quantity of times the prayer is said, but the quality of our prayer.
The Jesus Prayer is not a mantra to simply quiet the mind. One Jesus Prayer prayed slowly with all our heart and soul, is worth more than a million parroted prayers, repeated without any thought or without focus on what we are actually saying. When praying, we also remember God’s endless Love and Mercy, and thank Him for all our Blessings.
St. Hesychios, an Abbot of Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai who lived in the 7th century said, “Just as it is impossible to fight battles without weapons, or to swim a great sea with clothes on, or to live without breathing, so without humility and the constant prayer to Christ, it is impossible to master the art of inward spiritual warfare or to set about it and pursue it skillfully.”
Abbot Tryphon of the Christ the Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island in Washington says: “There is a common misconception concerning the word “mercy”, used throughout the liturgical services of the Church, as well as our private prayers, and the Jesus Prayer. It is a given that we are all sinners, but the asking for God’s mercy is not limited to asking His forgiveness, or begging God to overlook our sinfulness. When we pray forty Lord have mercies, we are recognizing that EVERYTHING proceeds out of God’s mercy. The air we breathe, the health we enjoy, the food on our table, the water in our tap, the friendships we treasure, our family, and everything good, flows out upon us through God’s mercy. Lord Jesus Christ have mercy.”
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner – contains our entire Orthodox confession of faith; all dogma is built on it. If you say it attentively, then the Lord will gradually purify your inner world.” ~ Fr. Nikolai Vedernikov
Every prayer must come from the heart, and any other prayer is no prayer at all. Prayer-book prayers, your own prayers, and very short prayers, all must issue forth from the heart to God, seen before you. And still more must this be so with the Jesus Prayer ~ St. Theophan the Recluse
My husband bakes two tartine loaves per week. Pulled from a searing oven, they crackle, hiss, and fill the entire house with the song of bread. A single whiff of its aroma can make one weak in the knees.
Be that as it may, tartine bread is a luxury and not a necessity. One can thrive without treats. In fact one can live longer (and have it seem much, much longer) without treats.
Moving along to some small thoughts regarding our Real Daily Bread, and how we can’t Live without It –
Initially, the Lord’s Prayer seems simple and straightforward. However, the more one ponders, the more profound and spiritually sumptuous it becomes.
The first two words alone, Our Father are warm, loving, powerful and mind-boggling. Calling the Creator our Father? One can only reflect in amazement!
Then, further along, and as trustingly as a child, we are taught to entreat God to give us this day our daily bread… our spiritual and physical sustenanceneeded according to our salvation.
Although God knows exactly what we need, we are shown throughout this prayer the importance of reaching out, regardless. This draws us closer to our Heavenly Father. By casting cares and anxiety aside, and by praying, we bring He Who Is… our Daily Bread… into ourselves, under the roof of our soul… Especially when receiving the Sacrament and Gift of Holy Communion.
God loves us.
God provides for us – today, tomorrow and always.
He is our Blessed, Heavenly Bread and our Cup of Life.
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
Psalm 121 is also known as one of the Hymns of Ascents. In times of old, when pilgrims walked all the way to Jerusalem to visit the Holy Places of Christ, this was one of the many Psalms and hymns sung along the way! So, this is a good Psalm to keep in our hearts as we journey to Pascha. This Psalmreminds us our help comes from the Lord, and that prayer can be done any time. Whether we pray aloud, or silently within our hearts, prayer helps us grow closer to God. We can talk to God by using our own words, or a prayer book, or by saying a Psalm. Sometimes, depending on what’s happening in our lives, we might feel sad or anxious, and may not even feel like praying for help. But, when we persevere with courage and pray regardless… these are the sweetest prayers of all to God.
Memorizing a Psalm is great thing to do on one’s own, or together as a family!
While snowbound for a week during a blizzard, my grandma Faith (Memory Eternal) challenged my kid brother and me to some memory work.
She picked her favourite Psalm (121), and my brother and I raced to see who could learn it the fastest.
Alas, it was a mercenary contest of sibling rivalry, and a great number of pennies were involved in betting against each other.
Upon this untimely discovery by my grandmother, the illegal (in her eyes) gambling operation was quickly nipped in the bud and the forbidden “winnings” never collected.
Consequently, the contest escalated to the next level. Evidently, remembering Bible verses for a short while was too easy, so my grandma (tough cookie that she was) gave pop quizzes days later.
Meanwhile, my brother shrewdly – um, wisely… discovered how to wield a Bible Concordance, and learned other scripture passages to his advantage. For instance, at the next kerfuffle, he’d simply narrow both eyes at me and bring things to a grinding halt – just saying the reference: “Leviticus 19:17.” Or, with furrowed brow, sniff disdainfully: “Psalm 31:18.”
He learned before I ever did, that distractions are sibling-safe ways out of predicaments!