Fulfilling the Command to Pray

“Every day call this prayer to mind, and repeat it to yourself as often as possible: ‘Lord, have mercy upon all who appear before thee today.’ For at every hour and every moment thousands of people depart from this earthly life and their souls appear before God – and how many of them depart in solitude, unknown to anyone, sad and dejected because no one feels sorrow for them or even cares whether they are alive or not! And then, perhaps, from the other end of the earth your prayer for the repose of their souls will rise up to God, although you never knew them nor they you.

How deeply moving it must be for a man’s soul, as he stands in fear and trembling before the Lord, to know at that very instant that there is someone to pray even for him, that there is still a fellow creature left on earth who loves him! And God will look on both of you more favorably if you have had so much pity on him, how much greater will God’s pity be, for God is infinitely more loving and merciful than you! And he will forgive him for your sake.”

(Fyodor Dostoevsky, from The Time of the Spirit: Readings Through the Christian Year, p. 45)

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