Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Pray for Spiritual Blessings

Gregory of Nyssa raises the question about how it it that some have earned a high position, wealth and so forth by the use of prayer? It seems as if they are beloved by God because f their good fortune. Should we not ask for such tings? He responds by saying, "The present life is ordered from above. This is obvious to all... However, ... success in such material things through prayer has other causes. God in no way dispenses these things as good gifts to those who ask, but rather grants them as a means of strengthening the faith of the more shallow. Thus engaged with the smallest of requests and learning by experience that God hears our supplications, God wants us to rise to the desire for gifts which are both higher and worthy of Him. In other words he is helping us along in our spiritual growth step by step just as we observe in the way in which our own children grow.

He points our that it is indeed foolish to ask God for material benefits that are only temporary as they are not related to our destiny. Any enjoyment of things of this world are only temporary and in the end, at death, are all taken away. Gregory sternly says, "Looking upon the present life in the manner of grazing animal, they classify as good whatever gratifies their palate, their belly, or another carnal pleasure. They strive to be ahead of others and to be regarded preeminent. Or they find security in their abundant money or anything else in this deceitful life." But this is all folly he points out. Too often we think that by asking God for such things we can gain God's favor for our own benefits. Gregory says that, "it is characteristic of those who are without hope to cling to the present life."

Now he says we are ready to hear about the kind of prayer that is approprate to offer to God.
Gregory of Nyssa Sermons on the Lords Prayer; Discourse One.
Visit Cathedral prayer web pages for articles on prayer .

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