December 26, 2022

What is prayer for man?

God, the source of life, our Heavenly Father, loves each of us. It is natural for a person to converse with his Heavenly Father. A conversation with God is called prayer.

According to the teaching of the Holy Fathers, prayer is the "breath of the soul", uniting not only with the source of life, but also with the whole spiritual world of heaven - with the Blessed Virgin, the angels and saints. Consequently, prayer is also food for the soul and light for the mind.

There are three main forms of prayer: praise, thanksgiving and petition.

Communication with God implies a mutual relationship, when we not only ask "Lord, have mercy", but also give something to the Most Gracious and Almighty, who is continually praised with the prayer "Glory to You, God". Praise is the most perfect and selfless form of prayer. The angels in heaven unceasingly praise God in a song of praise. We also give thanks to God. In any grateful and sensitive soul the desire to thank God for His mercies, goodness and favours is inevitably born. "In everything be thankful," says Apostle Paul (1 Thessalonians 5:18). It is very important for our souls not so much to ask for anything as to give thanks, including gratitude through good deeds for the sake of our fellow human beings. Thanksgiving is offered to God for all the benefits we have received from Him. A thankful heart cries out, "Thank God for everything.!" A grateful heart doesn’t need anything.

The most widespread type of prayer is petition, when we ask God to forgive our sins and help us with our needs and difficult circumstances. We pray not only for ourselves, but also for each other, both for the living and the departed. Prayer request is natural to us because of our weakness. But if our prayers are only requests, if the voice of praise and thanksgiving is barely audible, it points to a weakness in our spiritual life.

We must pray with firm faith, but also with humility, so that we may be justified by God like the humble publican in the Gospel. When praying we must be aware of our unworthiness and spiritual poverty. Christian humility does not cause depression and hopelessness. On the contrary, it is associated with a strong belief in the Lord's omnipotence and goodness.

Молитва может быть вознесена без слов

Prayer can be offered up without words and without any outward manifestation. It is an inner and hidden prayer, but it should not make one passive. Prayer requires some kind of action from a person, for example, if a person cries out, "Lord, forgive me," then that person must also be able to forgive and help others, to have mercy.

Already just by thinking about God or reading something spiritual a person is purified, because at the moment of communication, God speaks to this person. "In the beginning was the Word..." (John 1:1). This is what the Scripture says, and therefore every word we say has no small significance and influence, especially words and thoughts about God or to God. Word and deed must not contradict each other. It is very important that action be consistent with our prayer.

Prayer may not be immediately answered. The true Christian will continue his prayer with unceasing effort until he has convinced the Lord. Since the Lord is our Father, we are all brothers. The Father answers our prayer only when we have a brotherly relationship with one another. Only the prayer of faith is accepted by God, as we read in the Gospel, "Therefore I say to you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you will receive, and it will be given to you" (Mark 11:24). A Christian's prayer, warmed by faith, is very powerful. The Christian remembers Jesus' commandment to always pray and not to lose heart (Luke 18:1) and His promise, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7).

Молитва – это великий инструмент

Prayer is a great tool that can make us righteous and holy, but it is important to know how to handle it properly.

One must not be frivolous in petition, lest one offend God, His dignity.

It is necessary to pray not only in the time allotted for it, but continually. The Holy Apostle Paul writes, "Pray continually" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This includes constantly remembering the Lord, even at night. "I sleep, but my heart is awake" (Song of Solomon 5:2). The best teacher of prayer is Jesus Christ Himself. The Savior Himself gave us a wonderful prayer - the Lord's Prayer. This prayer teaches us how to put all our personal desires into proper order. We should first ask for the glory of God, for the spreading of good among men and the salvation of our souls, and only then do we ask for our daily needs.

Prayer has three basic conditions. The first is concentration, the second is relevance, and the third is realism. In the beginning, it is important to concentrate our attention when turning to God and keep it raised to God. This is the first condition. It is wrong to begin prayer before our feelings have settled down. Feelings should not be displayed in prayer, for the sensory apparatus of man has been very damaged since the fall. Saint Ignaty (Ignatius) Bryanchaninov wrote that Orthodoxy is a way of life, not following one's feelings. Therefore, prayers should be recited in a monotone rhythmically and without haste. The second condition has to do with the correspondence of our mind to our heart, which assimilates impressions more slowly than the mind does information, that is why the prayers might be long, so that the heart is attuned to communion with God. The ability to pray with spiritual concentration and wholeheartedly is one of the most precious spiritual gifts. The realism of prayer has to do with what we imagine when we pray, what happens in our imagination. We live in three-dimensional terms. Not everything that is in our imagination is true, real. There is the real power of faith, but there is also only imagined power in mental images. In order that we do not imagine anything, we need holy icons, that is, holy images, so that we do not expend much soul energy in creating and maintaining an image. Without an icon, one tends to create an image for himself, his icon in thought, in prayer. The mental image may periodically disappear, it takes effort to restore it, and the person begins to pray to the image that he imagined for himself. Spiritual adversaries can quickly take a person to the imaginary world and weaken him. Therefore, one must watch prayer as carefully as one watches fire. The icon, on the other hand, provides one with an impassioned vision of reality.

The habit of inward attention can be developed through the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”. God Himself knows what we need and therefore what we should ask for. But a person may unknowingly ask for things that are not at all worthy of divine majesty. First of all, we must not be frivolous in our petition lest we offend God and His dignity. We need to pray that the Lord will have mercy on us, will guide and enlighten us as He wills and knows: "Lord, Thy will be done’’. The Lord Himself prayed to His Father, "Thy will be done". (Matthew 26:42)

Молитва Господу Нашему Иисусу Христу

Prayer to Our Lord Jesus Christ has been going on uninterruptedly for 2,000 years. In addition to private prayer, there is also communal prayer offered in the church. The church is the place where God meets man and at the same time the church is the miracle of this very meeting. Since apostolic times, the most important public prayer has been the Divine Liturgy, in which the faithful are united in prayer with one heart. Such joint worship has tremendous spiritual power. Jesus Christ said: "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18).

As we pray together, we feel all the more the joy of the call, "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest”. This strengthens our faithfulness to God and strengthens us in the constant act of prayer. We ask the Lord that prayers be for the good, ask Him to teach us to pray "with attention and love, without which prayer is not heard": "Teach me to pray, O Lord. Pray in me Yourself."

Prayer and life with God are a sacrament that gives a person an unearthly joy, which meaning is right in the words of the prophet David: "See my humility, O Lord, and my toil, and take away all my sins" (Psalm 24:18); and "And the Lord save me" (Psalm 114:5). The grace of the Holy Spirit accompanies such a person, he receives heavenly blessings and multiplies the fruits of virtue and perfection.

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