Prayer as Relationship with God (III)

This is the 38th 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 (II).

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov  offers a fine summary of what we have learned in this series about the very nature of prayer:

“Here one must underscore the importance of prayer, the direct contact between creation and divinity, the sacrament of the Name of God.  Prayer is an essentially personal relation; it is directed from person to Person…”  (THE BRIDE OF THE LAMB, p 309)

Bishop Kallistos Ware continues with a very similar theme:

“To pray is not necessarily to ask God for something; it need not even be to employ words, for often the deepest and most powerful of all prayers is simply to wait upon God in silence.  But whether we are worshiping with words, through symbolic and sacramental actions, or in silence, always our underlying attitude is the same: we are standing before God.

Hospitality of Abraham and Sarah

To stand before God: this implies that worship is an encounter, a meeting between persons.  The purpose of worship is not just to arouse emotions and to produce appropriate moral attitudes, but to enter into a direct and personal relationship with God the Holy Trinity.  ‘As a friend talking with a friend,’ writes St Symeon the New Theologian, ‘we speak with God, and with boldness we stand before the face of Him who dwells in light unapproachable.’  Here St Symeon briefly indicates the two poles of Christian worship, the two contrasting aspects of this personal relationship:  God ‘dwells in light unapproachable,’ yet we human beings are able told draw near ‘with boldness’ and to speak with Him ‘as a friend talking with his friend.’  God is beyond all being, infinitely remote, unknowable, ‘the Wholly Other,’…   But this transcendent God is at the same time a God of personal love, uniquely close, around us and within us, ‘everywhere present and filling all things…”  (THE INNER KINGDOM, pp 59-60)

Finally, John Mummert sums up the same theme we have encountered over and again in the various writers who addressed the issue of prayer:

“’In prayer we should not seek the gifts alone.  Rather, we should seek the giver.’  How often does our prayer life consist of only trying to get things from God?

Christ praying in Gethsamane

Real prayer is always concerned with relationship.  Having the right relationship with God is central.  Things are less central.  We often make a god out of good health.  Sometimes we make a god out of money.  But the Christian life consists of something much different.  When our relationship with God is right, we achieve union with God.  We know his presence in our lives.  We do not know the essence of God, true.  But we can know and experience the love of God radiating into our lives.  The Greek Fathers spoke of participation in the divine, uncreated energies.

When our relationship with God is right, all other things will be well.”  (ABIDING IN JESUS CHRIST, p 31)

Because real prayer is being in a relationship with God, prayer is experiencing salvation in our lives.

Next:  Prayer as Relationship with God (IV)

3 thoughts on “Prayer as Relationship with God (III)

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

  2. Pingback: Orthodox Collective

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

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