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Author Topic: Where Are the Boundaries Of Prayer?  (Read 501 times) Average Rating: 0
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Justin Kissel
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« on: January 01, 2012, 10:56:59 AM »

I believe that it would be accurate to say that prayer is about communication, communicating, speaking or thinking or experiencing a devotion, and also about communion or union. If that is so, then could things like studying and spiritual reading, Bible reading and meditation, etc. be considered prayer--or, if not prayer, at least a prayerful activity? Could silence also be a prayer or prayerful activity? Does the activity not matter so much as the motives or intentions, or the methods or attitude or mindset? Does "pray without ceasing" not mean only saying something like the Jesus Prayer constantly, but perhaps could it also mean doing things in a prayerful way? Does it depend on keeping God in mind: always wanting to follow, always wanting to be in communion, and partaking of the divine nature? As St. Gregory the Theologian put it: "For we ought to think of God even more often than we draw our breath; and if the expression is permissible, we ought to do nothing else." (Oration 27.5)
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« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2012, 02:14:08 PM »

I would say "yes" to all the questions (though who am I). I would even go so far as to say that constantly saying the Jesus Prayer matters little if one does not go through the other daily activities in a prayerful and reverent manner. If I call on the Lord in my room and curse my brother as soon as I leave the room don't I turn all my prayer into cursing?

Lord, have mercy.
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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2012, 03:46:15 PM »

The act of "studying and spiritual reading, Bible reading and meditation" is a very ancient Orthodox practice, albeit primarily in the West, called lectio divina and is carried out still today by Orthodox monks in the Benedictine tradition.
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« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2012, 04:09:34 PM »

If we are to "...pray without ceasing" as instructed to by St Paul, is it possible for us to put boundaries on prayer?

Or, is it better to think that we can do many activities while praying, such as the activities described?
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« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2012, 04:43:27 PM »

Somewhere on here orthonorm wrote something about how we should pray.  I don't remember where it was at but it struck me pretty hard.  Pray for forgiveness and that God aides you as he sees fit.  And glorify Him.  Those are the important things.  If you are forgiven and glorify God all other things will follow.  Even if you are nailed to a cross things will be fine.
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« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2012, 05:11:26 PM »

Good advice.     angel
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2012, 07:59:33 PM »

'Whenever you read the Gospel,' says St Tikhon of Zadonsk, 'Christ himself is speaking to you. And while you read, you are praying and talking with him.'

-- Met. Kallistos (Ware), The Orthodox Way, (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1981), p. 148
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« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2012, 08:05:52 PM »

If we are to "...pray without ceasing" as instructed to by St Paul, is it possible for us to put boundaries on prayer?

Or, is it better to think that we can do many activities while praying, such as the activities described?

This was the impression I got when I watched the 60 minutes piece about Mount Athos.  The monks prayed all day while working.  The camera man even zoomed in on their faces so you could see them praying as well as the one monk who was interviewed saying that is what they do.  What really got me while watching this was their 8 hour Liturgy, every day.  Wow!
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« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2012, 05:03:59 AM »

To my understanding, prayer is talking to God, (and God talking to you), thus prayer is communion with God. I believe part of prayer is not just ascending, but also descending (from God, or Angels or Saints), and one needs to listen carefully to what God is doing, how He moves our lives and what He expects of us. A great Elder, Arsenie Papacioc, would always say that he was not so much for quantitative ascetic tasks (such as a lot of spoken prayer), but he was for a state of continuous presence before God -- that is simply having God before you no matter what you do and where you are. This is the essence of prayer, to BE with God ALWAYS. So, prayer can be even a silent attitude before God instead of repeating the Jesus Prayer, and it's really up to each individual to figure out what he needs. No matter which method you choose, the state of presence before God must always exist, even if you are reciting or thinking of words; in fact, we may forget this, and may end up reciting or saying the Jesus prayer a million times in our heads but forget that we are speaking to God and that He is with us. Good deeds (like alms-giving) are very important, and if you give up serving God and your neighbor for the sake of improving your own prayer, you are headed for delusion.

There are many levels of prayer, but how and when one will receive them is up to God. The change is generally gradual (maybe complex) and goes hand in hand with purification from the passions and various factors -- one cannot expect prayer to improve if one does not try to become a better person, and prayer for the sake of prayer itself doesn't happen either (like I've been saying). Prayer is, of course, a tool that helps us grow closer and enter into communion with God, it is not an end in itself. The higher levels of prayer, such as prayer of the heart, are already visibly becoming the work of God, and there are even higher levels such as "prayer that moves by itself" (actually God moves it Himself and the man just sits in the hand of God). The highest is "vision of God in The Kingdom of Heaven", and Saints have achieved this also -- this is basically entering Heaven in this life, those saints were not even eating or sleeping anymore, just having Holy Communion.  There are many saints who achieved these, and some were very simple people who did not necessarily systematize their prayer, but they were people who loved virtue and God blessed them. There were many saints who did not achieve any level of prayer, but again, they were precious martyrs for God. We should not feel bad, if we don't achieve higher levels of prayer, neither should we desire them because they can become idols or more things to have. Best is to be with and love God and our neighbor, and good things are bound to come, as God thinks is necessary.  
« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 05:05:13 AM by IoanC » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2012, 11:59:27 AM »

Keeping it simple, any activities can be considered prayer if the focus is on God or as stated above you activity includes actual prayer.

But I am a simple man to begin with.  Smiley
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