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What is prayer?

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Department of Religious Education

Prayer is doxology, praise, thanksgiving, confession, supplication and intercession to God. "When I prayed I was new," wrote a great theologian of Christian antiquity, "but when I stopped praying I became old." Prayer is the way to renewal and spiritual life. Prayer is aliveness to God. Prayer is strength, refreshment, and joy. Through the grace of God and our disciplined efforts prayer lifts us up from our isolation to a conscious, loving communion with God in which everything is experienced in a new light. Prayer becomes a personal dialogue with God, a spiritual breathing of the soul, a foretaste of the bliss of God's kingdom.

How is one to pray? Only the Holy Spirit can guide us to pray as we should. Just as a child learns to walk by walking, one can best learn to pray by praying, trusting in the help of God. Put your whole soul into your prayer. Think about the meaning of every word you pray. Make it your own personal prayer. Be persistent in prayer. Do not yield to carelessness or neglect. Strengthen your prayer through a lively faith in the Lord, a spirit of forgiveness toward others, and genuine Christian living.

As we pray deeply within our hearts we grow in prayer. By the grace of God we suddenly catch a glimpse of the miracle of the presence of the Holy Spirit working within us. At first it is only a spark but later it becomes a flame freeing and energizing our whole being, provided we do nothing to grieve the Holy Spirit; and if we do sin we repent of our sin immediately and ask for God's forgiveness. To experience the fire of God's holy love, to give it space within us to do its cleansing and healing work as a breath of the Holy Spirit, and to use it as light and power for daily living -- such are the goals as well as the fruits of true prayer.

Copyright: Holy Pascha, April 14, 1985 - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Source: My Orthodox Prayer Book

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