Prayer as Relationship with God (II)

This is the 37th blog in a series exploring various aspects of “prayer.”  The first blog is “Why Pray?” and the previous blog is Prayer as Relationship with God.

St. Silouan the Anthonite (d. 1938AD) exclaims:

“O ye peoples of the earth, fashioned by God, know your Creator and His love for us!  Know the love of Christ, and live in peace and thereby rejoice the Lord, Who in His mercy waits for all men to come to Him.

Turn to Him, all ye peoples of the earth, and lift up your prayers to God; and the prayers of the whole earth shall rise to heaven like a soft and lovely cloud lit by the sun, and all the heavens will rejoice, and sing praises to the Lord for His sufferings whereby He saved us.

Know, all ye peoples, that we are created for the glory of God in the heavens.  Cleave not to the earth, for God is our Father and He loves us like dear children.”  (ST SILOUAN THE ATHONITE, p 358-359)

Eternal life is to know God and to know His Christ (John 17:3).  Prayer does not give us knowledge about God, but rather enables us to know God.  Prayer lifts us up to eternity and fulfills our highest aspirations.  It is in prayer that we realize that as humans we are not limited by our biology or our genes or by our mortal condition.

“Prayer is always possible for everyone, rich or poor, noble or simple, strong and weak, healthy and suffering, righteous and sinful. Great is the power of prayer; most of all does it bring the Spirit of God and easiest of all is it to exercise.”  (St. Seraphim of Sarov,  Prayer Book – In Accordance with the Tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church , kindle 3867-70)

Saints of the 20th Century

The Holy Spirit prays in us and teaches us how to pray (Romans 8:26-27). The same Spirit comprehends the thoughts of God (1 Corinthians 2:11).  Thus when we pray in the Spirit we become united to our God. As St. Seraphim said above, this prayer is possible for everyone because we all can humble ourselves and repent of our sins, thus opening our hearts to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

“Our prayer reflects our attitude towards God. He who is careless of salvation has a different attitude toward God from him who has abandoned sin and is zealous for virtue but has not yet entered within himself and works for the LORD only outwardly. Finally, he who has entered within and carries the LORD within himself, standing before him, has yet another attitude. The first man is negligent in prayer, just as he is negligent in life, and he prays in church and at home merely according to the established custom, without attention or feeling. The second man reads many prayers and goes often to church, trying at the same time to keep his attention from wandering and to experience feelings in accordance with the prayers which are read, although he is seldom successful. The third man, wholly concentrated within, stands with his mind before God, and prays to him in his heart without distraction, without long verbal prayers, even when standing for a long time at prayer in his home or in church…. 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.”  (Bp. Theophan the Recluse, Prayer Book – In Accordance with the Tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church , kindle Loc. 3921-30)

When we turn to God in prayer we realize our own sinfulness and simultaneously realize we do not need to fear the Holy God because He loves us and accepts our repentance.  Acknowledging our sins, admitting our faults is not an impediment to being loved by God, but rather opens the door to that love.  In prayer we thus learn that the shame we feel for our misdeeds is not an obstacle to God’s love for us, but rather because it humbles us it makes us all the more attractive to God’s love.   God’s grace is that despite our sins and failures, He loves us anyway and invites us to admit our sins so that we can enter into His holiness.

Re Next:  Prayer as Relationship with God (III)

2 thoughts on “Prayer as Relationship with God (II)

  1. Pingback: Prayer as Relationship with God | Fr. Ted's Blog

  2. Pingback: Prayer as Relationship with God (III) | Fr. Ted's Blog

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