I would like to know how to work out my salvation. What is prayer? How does one learn to pray? Even though these are primary questions we should be asking ourselves, we seldom hear them asked or spoken of from the pulpit. Many approach prayer with a misunderstanding thinking that our actions produce the grace to be able to pray. However, it is quite the opposite. It is prayer that produces the grace for our good actions and imitating Christ Jesus. St. Paul in (1 Tim 2:1) states that prayer should proceed all actions. First, prayer should be offered. The act of prayer comes first, coming before everything else. Good actions flow from our love relationship with Christ Jesus because we are glad to do good. We want to imitate our Love. (“Our Love”, meaning Christ Jesus Himself) Our Love produces an inner joy so great we become compelled to share this joy with others. The Word floods our inner being with so much grace we want to share this Love with others. It is a natural instinct within us. It is a seed that lies dormant within us until we freely open our being to God and seek to commune with Him. So, without prayer, it is not possible to do God’s will because we don’t talk with Him. How are we to know what He truly wants from us? There has to be some sort of interaction. Communion with God brings with it an understanding of truth and also helps us fight off our vices and the temptations we encounter. Fidelity to prayer will lead us to enlightenment and deep union with Christ. Purity and perfection in our prayer cannot be produced by ourselves we are in need of God’s grace. (Romans 8:26) says to us, “it is the Holy Spirit that comes to help us in our weakness when we do not know how to pray.”
So what does St. Paul mean when he says, “We are to pray unceasingly” (1 Thessaloians 5:17) This passage has a much deeper meaning to it. We can’t just walk around all day praying out loud to God. People will begin to think we’re nuts and start to shun us. Next thing you know your on the nightly news and headlining the papers , “Praying man Gone Nuts, Tonight on the 11:00 o’clock news” Okay, a little exagerated. You know what I mean though. Ceaseless prayer then, must come from the heart of our being where we can “enter into our room where only God can see us” . It comes from our inner voice that we hear talking to ourselves within ourselves. Sometimes this inner voice needs a bit of discipline. It can become pretty darn negative, upset about many things that happen to us during the day. This is the voice that needs God’s grace enabling us to pray unceasingly. There is a beautiful prayer the Orthodox Christians came up with called “The Jesus Prayer”. It goes like this, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on us sinners.” This is such a powerful prayer the monks of Mount Athos continue to use it to this day. The books that speak a great deal about the Jesus Prayer are called the “Philokalia” Absolutely gorgeous reading. The Philokalia was written by 25 Early Fathers of the Church. It contains complete and detailed instructions about ceaseless prayer. It is considered to be the primary teacher of the contemplative life [“Just as the sun cannot be looked upon solely with the eye lest he becomes blinded, the soul cannot directly understand Scripture without the assistance of the Philokalia.”] (The Way of the Pilgrim) So my friend, sit alone in a silent spot, bow your head gently and close your eyes, now relax your breathing. With your imagination look into your heart begin to direct your thoughts from your head down into your heart. Do not try to fight the distractions that race around in your head. They seek to disrupt your communion with Christ Jesus. The heart is a place they cannot go unless you invite them. Your heart is reserved for Love alone, nothing else. Picture distractions as if they were airplanes flying over head. You hear them, you know they are there, but you pay no mind to them. This takes much practice so please be very patient with yourself. Just like any relationship, it takes time to grow. It is the same with Christ Jesus, our truest Love. I promise you, your life will begin to find many changes happening in it. First, you will find an inner peace and joy you have never experienced before. You will begin to experience a balance never known before. You will find strength to over come your vices. The vices that want to ruin your life. Anyway, my dear brother, my dear sister, be patient with yourself and with your journey into ceaseless prayer. Our relationship with Christ Jesus is life long and eternal.
Take good care of yourself and know I am praying for you, please pray for me and the Hermits of St. Giles ministry. This ministry is made up of those who are permanently disabled and who are now home bound. Although we cannot be actively involved in our parish we can still be useful through a life of prayer and offering our lives for others. If you fit this criteria and feel called to become a Hermit of St. Giles please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Peace and Goodness,
Hermits of St. Giles