Prayer as the Essential Need of Man
Prayer is the pious direction of man’s soul to God, or the communication of the heart with God, through which God is represented before man as man pours the feelings of his soul before Him. It is the lifting of the mind and the heart to God and with it man is carried to the angelic choir and becomes a member of their blessedness. Prayer is the incense most acceptable to God, that most secure bridge for the passage over the tempting waves of life, the indestructible stone of all who believe, the peaceful landing place, the divine garment which clothes the soul with great goodness and beauty. Prayer is the mother of all good deeds, the keeper of the cleanliness of the body (chastity), the seal of maidenhood, the secure fence against our eternal enemy, the devil. It drives away enemies through the name of Christ, since there is no means powerful in the heavens or on the earth. Prayer is the fortification of the world pleading for God’s mercy for our sins, that landing place which the waves cannot destroy, the enlightenment of the mind, the axe to spare destruction of sadness, the breeding of hope assuaging the wrath, the advocate to all those who are undergoing trial, the joy of those who are in prison, the salvation of those who are dying. It made the whale become the home of Jonah, it brought Ezekiel back to life from the doors of death, and it converted the flames to dew for the Babylonian youths. With prayer St. Elijah closed the heavens so that the rain did not fall for three years and six months (James 5:17). When the apostles themselves were unable to cast out the unclean spirits, Christ told them, “This one cannot go out , except by prayer and fasting” (Matt. 17:21).
There is nothing more precious in man’s life than prayer. It makes the impossible, possible; it makes the difficult, easy; the uncomfortable, it makes comfortable. Prayer is as important to man’s soul as breathing. Who does not pray is deprived of conversation with God and is similar to the tree that bears no fruit and is cut and cast into the fire (Matt. 7:19).
“When you direct yoru mind and thoughts to the heavens,” says St. Makarios the Great, “and want to unite yourself unto the Lord, then a great multitude of evil spirits, like a black cloud, lingers over you, that it might deter your path to heaven. But, just as the old walls of Jericho fell by the power of God, so too will these stones of evil which are deterring your mind be destroyed by the power of God. When you are in prayer, remember before whom you stand. Be deaf and dumb to everything that surrounds you, invoke the Lord for help and He will help you. It’s necessary to uproot all feelings of wrath and to completely cleanse ourselves of murderous feelings of bodily desires, regardless of who they might be directed to.”
Patriarch Pavle Pravoslavlje No. 936 To be continued