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Ask Father John 11-03-11

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How do we deepen our life of prayer in a busy world? — E.B.

 

Prayer is an obvious constant throughout the history of the Orthodox Church. There are so many implicit and explicit commands to pray that we know on some level that we are called to do it often. 

However, the importance of prayer can be discerned by Paul’s exhortation to pray without ceasing. 

The question could be restated, “How do we converse with God when we are surrounded by distractions?” One way is by increasing inner peace and minimizing inner chaos in any way we can. The more we focus on “the one thing needful,” and avoid those things that greatly disturb our inner peace, the easier it will be to either establish or maintain our practice of prayer.

This does not mean that we shirk our responsibilities or acquire some strange aloofness from society, but rather establish healthy boundaries and priorities on the level of the spirit.

The point of prayer is to simply love God, not to attain some “spiritual state.” We can make a good beginning toward this end by striving for continual growth in our relationship with God. In other words, we avoid stagnant spiritual lives. 

We must actually get up and pray. Having inner peace and peace with others helps maintain a state of soul conducive to prayer. 

Whether we have a peaceful state or not, we are called to pray as frequently as we can. We pray together as “the body of Christ,” — as “church,” as well as privately “in our closet” at home. 

By centering our life in Christ, by maximizing our peace of heart and by establishing and maintaining a habit of prayer, whether the world is busy or not, our life of prayer can do only one thing — deepen.

 

 Send questions for this column to monkjohn@gmail.com.