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Author Topic: Mindset for Prayer  (Read 444 times) Average Rating: 0
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clifford
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« on: April 01, 2013, 07:19:33 PM »

I need help with preparing myself before I pray.  Most of the time I have no problem preparing and getting in the correct mindset before liturgy and vespers but recently I have found my mind wondering and am having trouble being sincere and repentant when I pray alone.  If anyone could give me some advice that would be great.

Thank you
« Last Edit: April 01, 2013, 07:20:22 PM by clifford » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2013, 08:26:50 PM »

this helps me a lot. 
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xqfNg70dlI

Its just a chant dont even know much abt it but i tend to stay up late watching stupid utube junk and when i watched the last video i just play this chant and im ready to say my prayers before the second line is chanted. i let it play through while sayig prayers and its the last thing i turn off before going to bed.
hope it helps
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« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2013, 01:09:59 AM »

How long have you been keeping your prayer rule at home? 

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clifford
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« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2013, 05:45:23 AM »

I would say a few months, but I'm taking more time to pray because its lent
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« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2013, 06:14:51 AM »

I don't know, but if you can't be in the mood for something it maybe means that you are experiencing inner turmoil. Why would you figure that is? Do you feel it is too much or too hard? That would be different than actually not wanting to go to Liturgy or praying. In my experience, this has happened when I or other people forced me into a program or a norm instead of on a path that leads to life and peace.
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clifford
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« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2013, 06:18:17 AM »

Its more like I want to pray but something is blocking me from actually getting with the prayer.
 
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« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2013, 06:25:07 AM »

Its more like I want to pray but something is blocking me from actually getting with the prayer.
 

That would be demonic opposition then? It's generally not good to accept a fight with a demon (who is trying to stop you from praying in this case). Turn to God instead and wait for Him to figure out a course of action. If you try fighting by yourself, even if you succeed, you will think that it's not through the Grace of God, but your own powers. We need to surrender to God. As soon as you try to surrender to God, the demons will start to tell you that you are lazy. That's the other extreme. Don't stress and always turn to God. (just some thoughts for you to consider)
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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2013, 08:22:24 AM »

Maybe you are being introduced to a fairly important practice of keeping your mind focused on prayer.  At least, if you look at it this way, then you can see it as something helpful instead of something detrimental.  If your mind wanders (mine CONSTANTLY wanders!) if you notice it - I've found it very helpful to tell myself "This is life stuff, I am praying, I will deal with life stuff later, I don't have to deal with it now."  Then before  start back into my prayer - starting the individual prayer over (this in itself, starting the prayer over from the beginning is wonderful for immersing myself in prayer) I say, "I'm sorry for the interruption, Lord, you now have my full attention."  This reminds me that I am talking to my God, and He's patiently waiting for me to spend time with me.  He wants to spend time with us.  He LOVES this time we share with Him.

If you are not GETTING to prayer because something is blocking you - as you say - look at it as a contest, and the prize is your prayer corner.  What's his face can't keep you away, it can only introduce it's own feeling of wanting to stay away from what is holy.  It's not YOUR feeling - it's IT'S feeling.  Remind yourself it isn't YOURS - and it IS LENT - a time for soldiers to hone their skills - and GO PRAY.  If that prayer corner were the most important person in your life - and it was the LAST TIME you'd EVER see him/her again. . .what would you really put up with to keep you from him/her.  This is your God. . . what are you going to allow to keep you from your God?  Your Christ?  

When my mind is REALLY wandering I take it as going into a really hard work-out. . . you don't get endurance unless you do it often and COMPLETE the task, so as with training for a race, I'm patient with myself in this.  It takes time and effort.  You don't develop the necessary muscle to perform a good race overnight.  

This is Lent - a time of exercising our souls for our maturity in Christ.  So take your lack of focus and desire to pray as a good thing, and use it for the better thing.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2013, 08:29:57 AM by quietmorning » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2013, 09:27:55 AM »

This is what St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov) says regarding preparation for prayer:

Quote
On account of the signal importance of prayer, preparation should precede its practice. Before praying, prepare yourself; and be not as one who tempts the Lord. (Ecclus. 18:23). ‘When we are going to stand in the presence of our King and God and converse with Him,’ says St. John of the Ladder, ‘let us not rush into it without preparation, lest seeing from afar that we are without the weapons and clothing required for standing in the presence of the King, He should order His servants and slaves to bind us and banish us far from His presence and tear up our petitions and fling them in our face.’

The first preparation consists in rejecting resentment and condemnation of our neighbors. This preparation is commanded by our Lord Himself: When you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father Who is in heaven may forgive you your offenses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father Who is in heaven forgive you your offenses. Further preparation consists in the rejection of cares by the power of faith in God and by the power of obedience and surrender to the will of God; also a realization of one’s sinfulness and the resultant contrition and humility of spirit. The one sacrifice which God accepts from fallen human nature is contrition of spirit. If thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would have given it, says the Prophet to God on behalf of everyone who has fallen and remains in his fallen state. It is not merely some partial sacrifice of body or soul, but even total holocausts do not please Thee. The sacrifice for God is a contrite spirit; a contrite and humbled heart God will not despise. St. Isaac the Syrian repeats the following saying of another holy father: ‘If anyone does not recognize himself as a sinner, his prayer is not acceptable to God.’

The Arena, by Bishop Ignatius, chapter 18

In our prayer, we are especially praying for God's mercy, but such a prayer is very weak if we do not experience our need for mercy.  The Fathers say, along with St. Ignatius above, that prior to prayer it can be helpful to reflect on our sinfulness and lack of virtue, our lack of repentance, how our life could come to an end at any moment and we will have to give a full account, how at the end of our life there is no possibility of repentance, etc.  Such thoughts help produce the feeling of contrition and spiritual sobriety which is the proper foundation from which to pray with inner feeling and attention.
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clifford
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« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2013, 04:27:48 PM »

Alright thanks everybody!  It works alright, I still have trouble concentrating on evaluating myself before I pray but I haven't been doing it very long so I'm sure I'll catch on.
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« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2013, 05:52:48 PM »

Had a quick search and found these two gems:

When we begin to pray, we do not immediately break off from our daily tasks and just start praying, but we must prepare ourselves. As the Prayerbook says: "Stand in silence for a few moments until all your senses are calmed." Furthermore, as Holy Scripture tells us: Before offering a prayer, prepare yourself; and do not be like a man who tempts the Lord (Sirach 18:23). In addition to this, before entering into prayer, one must prepare himself not only inwardly, but also outwardly.

During prayer one should stand straight with ones eyes fixed on the icon or lowered to the ground, while, at the same time, the eyes of the soul, together with one's soulful aspirations, should be lifted up to God. This outward attitude of piety in prayer is both necessary and beneficial, for the disposition of the soul is in conformity with the disposition of the body.

One must also prepare himself for prayer in the soul, the essence of which consists of purging all vengeful thoughts from one's heart (Mark 11:25-26), in an awareness of one's own sinfulness and with the contrition and humility of soul that such awareness brings. For the only sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise (Ps. 50:17). As the Holy Fathers teach us, "whosoever does not avow himself a sinner, his prayer shall not be pleasing to the Lord."

In his daily devotions, the Christian must adhere to a strict home rule of prayer. All the great ascetics had such a rule and kept to it diligently. The extent of our home rule of prayer is determined for each of us in accordance with our manner of life and the state of our spiritual and physical strength. It is better that we offer up a few prayers, made, however, in proper devotion, than that we say many prayers in haste, a danger difficult to avoid if we take upon ourselves too heavy a burden.

-- Saint Tikhon's Monastery, These Truths We Hold (Source)


The elder said: Whether we pray for ourselves or for others, the prayer must be from the heart. The problems of others should become our problems. You have to prepare for prayer. Read a bit of the Gospel or the Gerontiko and then pray. It requires an attempt to take the mind to the divine space. Study is like a gift which God gives us to direct us to greater spirituality. With study the soul is warmed.

-- Elder Paisios the Athonite (d. 1994), Source
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« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2013, 06:27:43 PM »

I need help with preparing myself before I pray.  Most of the time I have no problem preparing and getting in the correct mindset before liturgy and vespers but recently I have found my mind wondering and am having trouble being sincere and repentant when I pray alone.  If anyone could give me some advice that would be great.

Thank you

I recall reading that Elder Paisios of Mount Athos wrote that reading two lines from the Athonite Paterikon before prayer sends the mind into a different world.  I would reckon that reading two lines from any comparable book which is well selected such as the Ladder of Divine Ascent or others would likewise be suitable for this purpose.
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clifford
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« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2013, 06:59:22 PM »

who wrote the ladder of divine ascent?
 
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Antonis
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« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2013, 08:25:21 PM »

who wrote the ladder of divine ascent?
 

Saint John Climacus  Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2013, 08:31:52 PM »

Can you pray while angry? Some of the psalms seem like they written angrily.
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« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2013, 09:04:20 PM »

Can you pray while angry? Some of the psalms seem like they written angrily.
I would like to know this, as well.
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