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Author Topic: Prayer in Secret  (Read 1576 times) Average Rating: 0
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ionus
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« on: June 02, 2009, 05:02:37 PM »

I did not do a thorough search to see if this topic has already been discussed, but I was hoping someone could direct me to some information regarding actual prayer practice concerning the verse in Matthew, in which Jesus sais, to go into our inner rooms and pray in secret.

My questions are:

1) Do we have to stand up in front of icons when praying in secret?
2) If not, is there a particular position (if sitting) that we should be in?
3) Is there anything wrong with sitting down comfortably, in silence,in a dark closet like area?

Any responses would be appreciated,
Thank you
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Peleg
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« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2009, 05:14:26 PM »

I did not do a thorough search to see if this topic has already been discussed, but I was hoping someone could direct me to some information regarding actual prayer practice concerning the verse in Matthew, in which Jesus sais, to go into our inner rooms and pray in secret.

My questions are:

1) Do we have to stand up in front of icons when praying in secret?
2) If not, is there a particular position (if sitting) that we should be in?
3) Is there anything wrong with sitting down comfortably, in silence,in a dark closet like area?

Any responses would be appreciated,
Thank you

As a long time Christian but a recent convert to Orthodoxy I would say any heartfelt prayer is a good thing.  A person responding to the Holy Spirit positively is always a good thing irregardless of anything else.  It is my understanding that praying before icons and such are reminders to us of who we are in the presence of and who we are praying with and to.  This is a helpful thing but I see nothing wrong w/ the praying the other ways you mentioned.
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« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2009, 01:58:59 PM »

Some monastics pray all of the time, no matter what they are doing.  As Fr. told me when I asked about prayer, "The most important thing to remember about prayer is to pray."
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ionus
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« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2009, 12:45:01 AM »

Lately I find myself with nothing to pray for, as I seem to have lost hope in overcoming my sins, also not believing in the power of my prayer for others, as I seem to always seek the selfish thing to do.  I sit before my icons, standing up, with nothing to say to God, because I don't feel like fighting myself anymore, but rather indulging in the sins that destroy me.  My heartfelt prayers are few and far in between......it is as if, as long as I can see myself, see the environment i'm in, nothing inspires me, the only thing that seems to make me feel a bit different is if I close myself off in a dark space, where I can see nothing and in that darkness feel safe from the horrible world that surrounds me.  [ I am being very dramatic, but essentially, I feel dead to myself, and this world is so hard to overcome, in that the only thing that gives me any motivation is retiring to a world of lust or fantasy---either through television or the internet]  I want to escape it all, and the only thing that gives me peace is complete darkness, for it seems that whenever I have light, I pervert it's use somehow.] 

So what I am asking is, is praying in the dark, to God, complete dark, where I cannot see anything, is that ok?
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« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2009, 02:05:57 AM »

Lately I find myself with nothing to pray for, as I seem to have lost hope in overcoming my sins, also not believing in the power of my prayer for others, as I seem to always seek the selfish thing to do.  I sit before my icons, standing up, with nothing to say to God, because I don't feel like fighting myself anymore, but rather indulging in the sins that destroy me.  My heartfelt prayers are few and far in between......it is as if, as long as I can see myself, see the environment i'm in, nothing inspires me, the only thing that seems to make me feel a bit different is if I close myself off in a dark space, where I can see nothing and in that darkness feel safe from the horrible world that surrounds me.  [ I am being very dramatic, but essentially, I feel dead to myself, and this world is so hard to overcome, in that the only thing that gives me any motivation is retiring to a world of lust or fantasy---either through television or the internet]  I want to escape it all, and the only thing that gives me peace is complete darkness, for it seems that whenever I have light, I pervert it's use somehow.] 

So what I am asking is, is praying in the dark, to God, complete dark, where I cannot see anything, is that ok?
Have you talked with your priest about your issues and your question?
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ionus
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« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2009, 03:03:05 AM »

He tells me to pray and continue to come to church, sometimes i get the feeling that he has given up on me though.
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PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2009, 03:04:31 AM »

He tells me to pray and continue to come to church, sometimes i get the feeling that he has given up on me though.
What gives you this feeling, if you don't mind me asking?
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ionus
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« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2009, 03:25:09 AM »

He has a lot of problems at this point in time, and my showing no effort to improve myself is not helping him help me, as I show no desire to improve, nor do I give him the respect of listening to his advice, such as: attending services consistently or helping out.
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The Prodigal Son
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« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2009, 08:35:39 AM »

ionus,

I know where you're coming from. I chose my user name because it applies to my life in a real way, not because it sounds cool. I, and everyone else here, know what sin is like. We know what it's like to repeat sins over, and over, and over, and over, and over... I have done more than my fair share of perverting the light and every other gift that God has given me. So know that you're not alone.

Pray sitting. Pray standing. Praying standing on your head. Pray laying down. Pray in front of an icon. Pray in front of a bare wall. Pray with shirts hanging all around you in a closet. Pray out loud. Pray in your heart. Pray with eyes open. Pray with eyes shut.

All that stuff is merely peripheral to the topic of prayer. If you need to go and sit in a dark closet, then go and sit in a dark closet. As cobweb said, the important thing about prayer is that we pray. My ONLY suggestion would be, if you have room in your closet (if not, no big deal), to prostrate yourself for at least part of the time while you pray. But don't fret over that too much.

You are in my prayers.
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« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2009, 01:28:49 PM »

I echo the other responses given so far. For myself, even though I have an icon corner, I find it difficult to pray standing/kneeling in front of it (maybe because it feels "forced," or that I have to chant, or do it properly, etc). However, it seems that most of my heartfelt prayers come when I'm laying down in bed about to go to sleep, and then drift off while in the midst of saying them.

What matters most is that it's prayer in the most simple, uncluttered form. However you feel most comfortable, that is the way it should be done.
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« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2009, 06:41:02 PM »

Lately I find myself with nothing to pray for, as I seem to have lost hope in overcoming my sins, also not believing in the power of my prayer for others, as I seem to always seek the selfish thing to do.  I sit before my icons, standing up, with nothing to say to God, because I don't feel like fighting myself anymore, but rather indulging in the sins that destroy me.  My heartfelt prayers are few and far in between......it is as if, as long as I can see myself, see the environment i'm in, nothing inspires me, the only thing that seems to make me feel a bit different is if I close myself off in a dark space, where I can see nothing and in that darkness feel safe from the horrible world that surrounds me.  [ I am being very dramatic, but essentially, I feel dead to myself, and this world is so hard to overcome, in that the only thing that gives me any motivation is retiring to a world of lust or fantasy---either through television or the internet]  I want to escape it all, and the only thing that gives me peace is complete darkness, for it seems that whenever I have light, I pervert it's use somehow.] 

So what I am asking is, is praying in the dark, to God, complete dark, where I cannot see anything, is that ok?

You really need to talk with your priest. Seriously, there are several issues here and quite frankly I don't believe most of us are equipped to help you.
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« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2009, 06:49:58 PM »

He has a lot of problems at this point in time, and my showing no effort to improve myself is not helping him help me, as I show no desire to improve, nor do I give him the respect of listening to his advice, such as: attending services consistently or helping out.

Ah... somehow I failed to see this the first time round. This makes things much more serious than I had originally thought. If you are "making no effort to improve and not even desiring to do so" and if you do not "give him the respect of listening to his counsel" then it seems to me that you are willingly placing yourself in a precarious situation. In short, God in His love will get your attention... one way or the other. Personally, I'd rather listen to His "still small voice" than have Him resort to using a two by four but there are times and there are folks for whom the slam over the head with the two by four is the only thing that appears to work. I pray that isn't the case with you. There must be at least a desire to change your situation (which you are telling us is not the case at present) as well as a willingness to at least try and heed your priest's counsel. Granted, you may fail miserably in this but you must at least desire to do so. If that desire is not present then it indicates a much more serious spiritual situation than I had initially thought.

So... tell me... what 'would it take' to get your attention? What would be necessary to create a desire in you to change the way in which you pervert the use of television/internet/light (as you put it)? Be careful how you answer for I'm sure the Lord is listening.
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« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2009, 07:10:36 PM »

Douglas, with all due respect, I don't think you're handling this situation in the manner which it requires, nor helping by threatening that "the Lord is listening." If Ionus had the courage to post about his problems publicly, then he obviously wishes for his behavior to change, but can find no will to do so. Which is completely understandable - sin can easily become overwhelming and leave us seemingly without comfort but to continue our destructive habits.  Hence why this topic is about praying in general, because from what I've gathered, that's what gives him the most strength to cope with this situation.

Regardless of whether we fall into sin repeatedly, God's love is universal. And I would hate to think he's lurking around the next corner with a "2x4 of Love", waiting to rough up the original poster.
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« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2009, 08:15:51 PM »

Douglas, with all due respect, I don't think you're handling this situation in the manner which it requires, nor helping by threatening that "the Lord is listening." If Ionus had the courage to post about his problems publicly, then he obviously wishes for his behavior to change, but can find no will to do so. Which is completely understandable - sin can easily become overwhelming and leave us seemingly without comfort but to continue our destructive habits.  Hence why this topic is about praying in general, because from what I've gathered, that's what gives him the most strength to cope with this situation.

Regardless of whether we fall into sin repeatedly, God's love is universal. And I would hate to think he's lurking around the next corner with a "2x4 of Love", waiting to rough up the original poster.

ISTM that no less than St. Paul spoke of this problem of paralyzing inertia in the face of carnal desires.

Quote from: Romans 7:13-25
Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
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Douglas
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« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2009, 08:45:44 PM »

Douglas, with all due respect, I don't think you're handling this situation in the manner which it requires, nor helping by threatening that "the Lord is listening."

Well.. possibly. But as I pointed out... NONE of us (me, you and anyone else here) has the authority to rightly advise such a serious situation as this other than to counsel him to speak with his priest. Furthermore, I was by no means threatening him. I was simply sharing the truth as I've experienced it in my own life and as the scriptures clearly describe. We don't listen... we don't want to listen... God helps us to listen.
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« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2009, 08:26:57 AM »

Ionus, did you try committing any good deeds?
Take no more than 10 euros and take a walk outside in the night. Give them to the first poor (homeless) guy you'll see. Then sit down with him and talk for a while. It's just awsome.  Wink

And don't you dare give up now. We all need you.
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« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2011, 08:30:40 PM »

Pray formally early morning and night, in a quiet area.
Wear foam earplugs and or ear defenders if noises bother you.
Do not discuss it with the profane - they will weaken your resolve. Pray in secret.

Face East if possible -hence Church Buildings are aligned so the congregation is facing the morning sun.
Keep neck and head in a straight line.
Keep a separate prayer area, with an altar with Icon, Burn incense occasionally to purify it. I recommend incense from Mount Athos or an Orthodox Monastery -see Nioras

Wear a hidden pectoral cross at all times, consecrated by a Monastery.
Silver is good, or some gold plating. Not too large or pure gold. God wants us to be humble. Large gold ones are for the Pharisees. Gold ones attract thieves. see Anjina
Keep an amulet from Mount Athos on you.
Have a window ajar or fresh air if your climate allows.

Make the sign of the cross first. Do one, three or more full prostrations before your altar as time/ energy allows.
Pray formally kneeling (any suitable posture) with prayer stool or cushion supporting you.
(James the Just reputedly had calluses on his knees from kneeling in the temple)
Use a chokti in your hand if you find it helps.
Pray with the mind in the heart and watch in front of your face with your inner eye. Eyes closed.
Breath slowly and steadily, pausing gently at full intake. As you slowly exhale repeat your Prayer formula (Prayer of the Heart, or the ineffable names of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Knock earnestly, not vane babbling.
Start with 15 - 30 mins twice a day. At the weekend build up to 1 hour or more twice a day.
Seek fellowship of the Noble and earnest. Take the Eucharist regularly. Keep twelve Great Feasts annually.
Study the New Testament, Philokalia and apocrypha regularly. Read the lives of the Saints.
Pray also when convenient while standing / walking at work / college home.
As you go to sleep Pray and Watch. Learn to pray without ceasing.
Inevitably, Sloth, torpor, doubt and depression will assail you.
Sing and Mourn. Blessed are they who mourn for they will be comforted.
Plod on. Lose a battle or two but keep fighting the War. Mistakes are our greatest teachers.
Keep the three fires constantly burning:
-Fire in the Heart
-Fire in the loins
-Fire in the Altar
Slacken the bow occasionally - a bow constantly strung will lose its power.
As you make progress you will be persecuted. Troubles will come to test you.
I have personally been struck, abused, poisoned, abandoned, rejected, humiliated. You will realize your fellow man and woman are fallen souls. Who is worthy to open the seventh seal?
Learn the secrets of Nature

« Last Edit: February 02, 2011, 08:34:22 PM by Ikonguru » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2011, 08:35:15 PM »

Some monastics pray all of the time, no matter what they are doing.  As Fr. told me when I asked about prayer, "The most important thing to remember about prayer is to pray."

Great advice.

In a similar vein, I've been told about praying:

You put your mind where your mouth is, not your mouth where your mind is.
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« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2011, 09:37:14 PM »

Thanks.
I forget to mention I daily start with the Lord's Prayer before Prayer of the Heart
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