I’ve always found it interesting how parishioners quote Scripture proving that one doesn’t need the Church if they want to pray to God. Serbs tend to be notorious for not being regular church goers. This is not to say that they are not God-loving or God-fearing or any of that, rather the argument is that one doesn’t need to go to church every Sunday to prove anything. All you have to do is open your Bible. Doesn’t Jesus say “When you pray, go in your room, close the door…”? There’s no mention of church. There’s no mention of even leaving your house.
I think I find all of this more interesting when the people that make this argument are the hardest workers in the parish. They’re the ones always in the kitchen helping, working, cooking, serving. They’re church goers as well but not as regular.
Of course, it’s true. If you want to pray all you have to do is pray. But the church and the Divine Liturgy, not to mention the entire liturgical cycle of services, is more than just closing yourself in your room and telling God your problems. It’s serving God. It’s worshiping Him. Moreover it takes discipline. And isn’t that what Christ commands of us? Didn’t He tell the Apostles to go and preach the good new and make “disciples” of all the nations?
If the church isn’t really that important and we can pray in our rooms, why do we spend so much of our time working to raise money for the church? Why do we donate to the church? Maybe in the end – while we have plenty of rooms in our homes to close ourselves off for prayer – we only have one church and in that room and space we call our church when it’s time for prayer we feel most at home.