Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Work of Prayer


Daily  prayer is the foundation of a spiritual life in Christ. We pray in the morning and the evening and throughout the day, with an aim for our entire life to be one of prayer. Saint Seraphim places the emphasis on saying the Jesus Prayer.

Saint Seraphim says,
Those who have truly decided to serve the Lord God should practice the remembrance of God and uninterrupted prayer to Jesus Christ, mentally saying: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner... By such exercises in preserving oneself from dispersion and keeping peace of conscience one may draw near to God and be united to Him.
The daily practice of the Jesus Prayer involves numerous disciplined repetitions of this short but all powerful prayer.  As we practice it, our mind is reshaped, our thoughts are tamed, our soul's orientation is pointed towards God, and prayer is always on our lips. 

Saint John Chrysostom  says, 
"Prayer is a great weapon, a rich treasure, a wealth that is never exhausted, an undisturbed refuge, a cause of tranquility, the root of a multitude of blessings and their source and mother"
In prayer we lift ourselves above our thoughts. It is our thoughts that destroy prayer. The main struggle in prayer is not to allow our thoughts to take away our prayer.

Saint Seraphim says,
One must always strive to give oneself up to dispersion of thoughts: for through this the soul turns away from remembrance of God and love of Him...
This is how we get the benefit from prayer, by controlling our thoughts. And it is by regular prayer where we learn to concentrate on God that we learn to control our thoughts.

Saint Seraphim says,
When the mind and the heart are united in prayer and the soul's thoughts are not dispersed, the heart is warmed by spiritual warmth in which the light of Christ shines, making the whole inner man peaceful.
This is our aim, to be united with God. 


More on the practice of the Jesus Prayer
Reference: Little Russian Philokalia, Vol 1, p 30

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