Friday, March 19, 2010
lenten 40: day 27 - pray
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
"This, then, is how you should pray:
" 'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them.
41"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
A person who resolves to begin regular morning exercises usually does so not because he already has physical fitness but in order to get something he does not have. Once one has something he can be anxious to keep it; previous to that, he is anxious to get it.
Therefore, begin your practice without expecting anything of yourself. If you are fortunate enough to sleep in a room by yourself, you can quite literally and without trouble follow the instructions of the prayer book:
"When you awake, before you begin the day, stand with reverence before the All-Seeing God. Make the sign of the Cross and say:
"In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."
Having invoked the Holy Trinity, keep silence for a little, so that your thoughts and feelings may be freed from worldly cares.
The complete and correct prayer is one in which the words of the prayer are accepted by both thought and emotion; attentiveness is therefore needful. Do not let your thoughts wander; imprison them again and again, and always begin anew from the point where you left off praying. Thus you learn patience and watchfulness.
A person standing at an open window hears the sounds from outside; it is impossible not to do so. But he can give the voices his attention or not, as he himself wishes. The praying person is continually beset by a stream of inappropriate thoughts, feelings and mental impressions. To stop this tiresome stream is as impracticable as to stop the air from circulating in an open room. But one can notice them or not. This, say the saints, one learns only through practice.
When you pray, you yourself must be silent. You do not pray to have your own earthbound desires fulfilled, but you pray: Thy will be done. It is not fitting to wish to use God as an errand boy. You yourself must be silent; let the prayer speak.
Your prayer must have four constituent parts, says Basil the Great: adoration, thanksgiving, confession of sin and petition for salvation. Do not be concerned with or pray for any private matters, but seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).
~from 'The Way of the Ascetics' By Tito Colliander
(thanks Patrick for showing me this)