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Table of contents :
FOREWORD vii
I The Essence of Prayer 9
II The Lord's Prayer 20
III The Prayer of Bartimaeus 46
IV Meditation and Worship 51
V Unanswered Prayer and Petition 70
VI The fesus Prayer 84
VII Ascetic Prayer 89
VIII The Prayer of Silence 95
EPILOGUB 113

Citation preview

living prayer

by metropolitan anthony (anthony bloom)

LIVING PRAYER

by

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

LJ Templegate Publishers Springfield, IL

Published in England by Darton, 89

Lillie

Road, London

Longman

&

Todd, Ltd.

SW6 IUD

Published in the United States by: Templegate Publishers 302 East Adams Street P.O. Box 5152 Springfield, IL 62705

©

Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, 1966

All rights reserved. Except for brief passages quoted in a

newspaper, magazine, radio, or television review, no part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-16522 ISBN 0-87243-054-5

CONTENTS FOREWORD I

vii

The Essence of Prayer

9

The Lord's Prayer

20

III

The Prayer of Bartimaeus

46

IV

Meditation and Worship

51

V

Unanswered Prayer and

II

VI VII VIII

Petition

70

The fesus Prayer

84

Ascetic Prayer

89

The Prayer of Silence

95

EPILOGUB

113

METROPOLITAN ANTHONY

is

widely recognized as one of

the great contemporary masters of the spiritual

born

in

Russian

1914

in

Lausanne. His father was

diplomatic service;

in

Persia.

moved

Following

to

Russian

childhood

fall

II

he was an officer

of France he worked as

and participated

at the

of

Russia and

in

Revolution

of the

the

family

where he studied science, receiving medicine from the University of Paris.

During World War hospital,

his

He was

sister

Paris,

doctorate in

After the

the

life.

member

mother was the

his

He spent

Scriabin, the composer.

a

his

the French

Army.

surgeon

a Paris

in

a

same time

in the

in

Resistance

In 1943, while working as a physician, he privately took monastic vows. He was ordained in 1948, and came to England in 1949 to serve as Orthodox chaplain to the

Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius, a pioneering ecumenical group. In 1958 he was consecrated Bishop, in

1962 he was made Archbishop of the Russian Church in England and Ireland, and in 1966 he was elevated to the rank of Metropolitan.

Metropolitan Anthony

is

known

for his preaching and writing

on the spiritual life. He has taken an active part in the ecumenical movement in several countries, including work with the World Council of Churches, and conferences conducted at the monastery of Taize.

FOREWORD* Worship

to

believer, then

me means one day

he appeared to

me

I

a relationship.

discovered

to be the

meaning of life, but

at the

I

used not to be a

God and

immediately

supreme value and the

same time a person.

worship can mean nothing

someone

at all to

total

think that

I

for

whom

no object of worship. You cannot teach worship someone who has not got a sense of the living God; you

there to

is

can teach him to act

as if

the spontaneous attitude as a

foreword to

convey

is

this

he believed, but

which

book on

is

worship. Therefore,

real

prayer,

will not be

it

what

I

would

like to

my certitude in the personal reality of a God with

whom my reader

a relationship can be established.

to treat

God

as a

Then

I

would

ask

neighbour, as someone, and

value this knowledge in the same terms in which he values a relationship

with a brother or

a friend. This,

I

think,

is

essential.

One of the

reasons

why communal

worship or private

prayer seem to be so dead or so conventional act

is

that the

of worship, which takes place in the heart communing

with God,

is

too often missing. Every expression, either

verbal or in action,

of what

is

essential,

may help,

but they are only expressions

namely,

deep silence of communion.

a

We all know in human relationships that love and friendship are deep

when we

* Adaptation of

programme

first

can be

silent

a talk given on the broadcast in 1965.

BBC

with someone. As in the

'Ten to Eight'

FOREWORD

Vlll

long

we need

as

safely

and sadly assume

ficial

and

of

This it

;

all

so, if

we

to talk in order to keep in touch, that the relationship

we want

to worship

God,

is still

can

super-

we must

first

learn to feel happy, being silent together with him.

is

an

needs a

easier thing to

time,

little

do than one might think

some confidence and

at first;

the courage to

start.

Once

the

Cure

d'Ars, a French saint of the eighteenth

century, asked an old peasant

what he was doing

sitting for

hours in the church, seemingly not even praying; the

me

we are happy together/ That man had learned to speak to God without breaking the silence of intimacy by words. If we can do that we can use any form of worship. If we try to make worship itself out of the words we use, we will get peasant replied

:

'I

look

at

him, he looks

at

and

desperately tired of those words, because unless they have the depth of silence, they are shallow and tiresome.

But silence

how inspiring words can be once they are backed by and are infused with the right

'O Lord, open Thou

my lips;

forth thy praise* (Ps 51:15).

and

spirit

my mouth shall show

;

I

The Essence of Prayer

the gospel of

Matthew

St

confronts us almost from

the beginning with the very essence of prayer.

saw the long-expected

they

star;

The Magi

out without delay to

set

find the king; they arrived at the manger, they knelt, they

worshipped and they presented prayer in

its

perfection,

which

is

their gifts

:

they expressed

contemplation and adora-

tion.

Often, in

we

more or

are told that prayer

commonplace

popular literature about prayer,

less

to hear:

an enthralling adventure.

is

'Come

so interesting, so thrilling,

it is

you will meet God, you will In a sense of course this

more are

far-reaching

made:

it is

is

is

It is

a

on, learn to pray; prayer

is

the discovery of a

find the

true; but

being forgotten

that prayer

is

we

it is

a fearful thing to fall into the

(Heb 10:31). Therefore the living

God

is,

God

is

a

it

to a spiritual

something very

when

life.'

much

such statements

and

a dangerous adventure

that

cannot enter upon

way

new world

without

risk.

As

St Paul says,

hands of the living

God

to set out deliberately to confront

dread adventure: every meeting with

in a certain sense, a last

judgement. Whenever

we

LIVING PRAYER

10

come

into the presence of

we

ments or in prayer,

God, whether

in the sacra-

are doing something

which

of danger because, according to the words of scripture, is

we are ready to surrender ourselves

a fire. Unless

full

is

God

without

become that burning which burned but was never consumed,

reservation to the divine fire and to

bush of the

we

shall

desert,

be scorched, because the experience of prayer can

known from the inside, and is not to be dallied with. Coming nearer to God is always a discovery both of the beauty of God and of the distance there is between him only be

and

us. 'Distance' is

determined by the Distance

sinful.

to God.

We

an inadequate word, because

God

fact that

it is

not

we

are

holy and that

is

determined by the attitude of the sinner

is

can approach

God

only

if

we do

so with a

we come having condemned ourselves; if we come because we love him in spite of the fact that we are unfaithful, if we come to him, loving him more than a godless security, then we are open of coming to judgement.

sense

to

him and he

Lord comes But

if

we

is

open to

us,

close to us in

stand before

assertiveness, if

we

If

and there

an

act

right to stand there, if we stand

no

distance; the

of compassionate love.

God wrapped

stand before

is

him

in our pride, in our as

though

we had

and question him, the

a

dis-

tance that separates the creature and the creator becomes infinite.

C.

S.

There

is

a passage in the Screwtape Letters in

Lewis suggests that distance, in

thing:

when

the great archangel

question him, the

moment he

this sense,

is

which

a relative

came before God

to

asked his question, not in

order to understand in humility but in order to compel

God

to give account, he

tance

from God. God had not moved, nor had

found himself

at

an

infinite dis-

Satan,

and

;

THE ESSENCE OF PRAYER

II

yet without any motion, they were infinitely tar apart (Letter

XIX).

Whenever we approach God between what he clear.

is

and what

the contrast that exists

we

are

becomes dreadfully

We may not be aware of this as long as we live at a

distance

from God,

so to speak, as long as his presence or

image is dimmed in our thoughts and in our perceptions

his

we come

but the nearer appears.

It is

God, the sharper the contrast

to

not the constant thought of their

but the

sins,

God that makes the saints aware own sinfulness. When we consider ourselves with-

vision of the holiness of

of their

out the fragrant background of God's presence,

become

virtues is

against the

small and

somewhat

and

sins

irrelevant matters;

background of the divine presence

it

that they

stand out in full relief and acquire their depth and tragedy.

Every time

we

near God,

are confronted with.

right spirit, to

we come

It is life if

we come

and are renewed by him.

him without

either life or death

it is

It is

him

in the

death if we

come

to

the spirit of worship and a contrite heart;

it is

death if we bring pride or arrogance. Therefore, before

we

set

it

out on the so-called thrilling adventure of prayer,

cannot be too strongly stated that nothing more

cant,

we our

more

set

awe-inspiring, can occur than meeting the

out to meet.

life

It is essential

in the process: the old

very

difficult,

have begun, to

not only

feel that

Christ, against the old

Prayer

is

to realise that

man,

afraid for him,

and

are

long

must

but years after

are completely

on the

side

we of

Adam.

an adventure which brings not

responsibilities: as

will lose

We

at the outset

we

we

God

die.

Adam we

are intensely attached to the old it is

signifi-

as

we

a thrill

but

are ignorant, nothing

is

new

asked

LIVING PRAYER

12

we know anything, we are answerable for the use we make of that knowledge. It may be a gift, but we are responsible for any particle of truth we have acquired; as it becomes our own, we cannot leave it dorof us, but

as

soon

mant but have and

as

to take

we

in this sense

it

into account in our behaviour,

are to answer for

any truth

we

have

understood. It is

only with a feeling of

utmost veneration that prayer, and

we

and precisely

must

we

as possible. It

armchair, saying:

now,

were standing

outwardly

it

We

God.

of

have to

us,

and as

we

well

completely

realise that if

we would comport

we must learn to behave in the Lord as we would in the presence

visible to us.

This implies primarily an attitude of

upon

as

not enough to lounge in an

in front

presence of the invisible

reflection

adventure of

and

ourselves differently,

of the Lord made

is

this

place myself in an act of venera-

I

tion in the presence of

Christ

can approach

up to

live

of adoration, with the

fear,

the body. If Christ

mind and then

was

there, before us,

stood completely transparent to his gaze, in as in

we would

body,

God, adoration, or

else

as

mind

feel reverence, the fear

perhaps terror, but

be so easy in our behaviour

we

are.

its

we

of

should not

The modern world

has to a great extent lost the sense of prayer and physical attitudes

have become secondary in people's minds,

though they are anything but secondary.

we

We

are not a soul dwelling in a body, but a

al-

forget that

human

being,

made up of body and soul, and that we are called, according to St Paul, to glorify

our bodies

as well as

God

in our spirit

and

in our

body;

our souls are to be called to the glory

of the kingdom of God

(I

Cor

6:20).

THE ESSENCE OF PRAYER

Too

no such importance

often prayer has

away

that everything else fades

many

additional to a great

present, not because there

cause he

is

the

to give

we wish God

things;

no

is

He

seek

him

in that spirit

withstanding

all

as it appears,

is

we do

the best

way

filment of our calling, to

means

in full

Love and

to

said, prayer,

friendship

become

fully

'Thou and with

ful-

human, which what

of the divine nature.

do not grow

put aside

shalt love the all

dangerous

and, ultimately,

if

to sacrifice a great deal for their sake,

we must be ready to God the first place.

so

when

go ahead towards the

communion with God

St Peter calls partakers

would be

it

not meet him. Yet not-

been

that has just

to be

of God, to have

additional to our needs, and

is

is

without him, not be-

life

supreme value, but because

also his presence.

in our lives

room. Prayer

it

nice, in addition to all the great benefits

we

13

many

we

are not prepared

and

in the

things in order to give

Lord thy God with

thy soul, and with

all

same way

all

thy heart,

thy strength, and with

all

thy mind' (Lk 10:27). This seems to be a very simple

command, and one

yet those words contain

sees at a first glance.

someone with

all

We

one's heart;

much more

than

know what it is to love we know the pleasure, not

all

only of meeting but even of thinking of the beloved, the

way that we should try to love God, and whenever his name is mentioned, it should fill our heart and soul with infinite warmth. God should be at all times in our mind, whereas in fact we think

warm

comfort

it

gives.

It is

in that

of him only occasionally.

As for loving God with

do

it

if

we

all

cast off deliberately

our strength,

we

everything that

is

can only

not God's

LIVING PRAYER

14

by an effort of will we must turn ourselves constantly towards God, whether in prayer, which is easier, because in prayer we are already centred on God, or in action, which requires training, because in our actions we are concentrated on some material achievement and have to dedicate it to God by a special effort. The Wise Men travelled a long way and nobody knows in us;

the difficulties they

had to overcome. Each of us

'also

They were loaded with gifts, gold for the king, frankincense for the God, myrrh for the man who was to suffer death. Where can we get gold, frankincense and myrrh, we who are indebted for everything to God? We know that everything we possess has been given us by travels as they did.

God and is not even ours for ever or with certainty. thing can be taken

away from

us except love,

Every-

and

this

what makes love unique and something we can Everything

else,

sense

is

no means of

we

give.

our limbs, our intelligence, our possessions

can be taken by force from there

is

are free

getting

but with regard to love,

us, it,

unless

we

give

with regard to loving, in a

it.

way

In that

in

which

we are not free in other activities of soul or body. Although fundamentally even love is a gift of God, because we cannot produce it out of ourselves, yet, once we possess it, it is the only thing that we can withold or offer. Bernanos says in the Diary of a Country Priest that we can also offer rest,

our pride to God, 'Give your pride with

pleasing to

and everything which

is

a gift

of love

is

well

God.

'Love your enemies, a

the

give everything/ Pride offered in that context becomes

a gift of love,

is

all

command

that

bless

them

may be more

that hate you*

or

less

(Mt

5 144),

easy to follow; but

THE ESSENCE OF PRAYER

who

to forgive those

inflict suffering

altogether different, and

disloyalty. Yet, the greater

on one's beloved

makes people

it

15

feel as if

our love for the one

is

taken in

who suffers,

the greater our ability to share and to forgive, and in that sense the greatest love

Rabbi Yehel Mikhael

T

and

accept

not in

was

so

'he'

we do

is

'I

when one

achieved

can say with

am my beloved'. As long as we say

not share the suffering and

we

cannot

The mother of God at the foot of the cross was tears, as shown so often in western paintings; she completely in communion with her son that she had

it.

nothing to protest against. She was going through the crucifixion, together

her

own

death.

with Christ; she was going through

The mother was

fulfilling

now what

had begun on the day of the presentation of Christ temple,

when

she

had given her

son.

ren of Israel he had been accepted

And

she,

who had

she

to the

Alone of all the child-

as a sacrifice

of blood.

now

accepting

brought him then, was

the consequence of her ritual gesture which was finding

fulfilment in reality. her, she

was completely

had nothing

she

It is

communion with communion with him now and

As he was then in

in

to protest against.

love that makes us one with the object of our love

and makes

it

possible for us to share unreservedly, not only

the suffering but also the attitude towards suffering and the executioner.

John will

the disciple protesting against

I

lay

it

willingly, of his

in

what was

the explicit

God crucified. 'No one is taking my life down of myself (Jn 10: 18). He was dying

of the son of

from me, his

We cannot imagine the mother of God or

death was

own accord for

this salvation

him and wanted

the salvation of the world;

and therefore those

to be at

who believed

one with him could share the

LIVING PRAYER

16 suffering

of his death, could undergo the passion together

with him; but they could not against the

crucifixion

We

reject

they could not turn

it,

crowd that had crucified Christ, because was the will of Christ himself.

this

we

can

can protest against someone's suffering,

protest against someone's death, either

when he

rightly or wrongly, takes a stand against

it,

or

himself,

else

when

we do not share his intention and his attitude towards death and

suffering; but then

our love for that person

complete love and creates separation.

shown by

Peter

when

told his disciples that he

him and began

Christ,

on

It is

was going to

an in-

the kind of love

way

the

is

to Jerusalem,

his death; Peter 'took

to rebuke him', but Christ answered: 'Get

thee behind me, Satan, for thou savourest not the things that be of

We

God, but the things

that be

of men'

(Mk

can imagine that the wife of the thief on the

Christ

death

was as

full

8:33). left

of

of the same protest against her husband's

he himself was; in

this respect there

communion between them,

was complete

but they were sharing a

wrong

attitude.

But death,

same

to share with Christ his passion, his crucifixion, his

means

spirit as

to accept unreservedly all these events, in the

he did, that

is,

free will, to suffer together

be there in

silence, the

very

to accept

with the silence

them

man

in an act of

of sorrows, to

of Christ, interrupted

only by a few decisive words, the silence of real

commun-

ion; not just the silence of pity, but of compassion,

allows us to

grow

that there

no longer one and

and one

is

which

into complete oneness with the other so

the other, but only one

life

death.

On many occasions throughout history people witnessed

THE ESSENCE OF PRAYER

17

persecution and were not afraid, but shared in the suffering

and did not

protest; for instance, Sophia, the

stood by each of her daughters, Faith,

encouraging them to

or

die,

many

mother

Hope and

who

Charity,

other martyrs

who

helped one another but never turned against the tormentors.

The

spirit

The

examples.

first

a spirit

:

by suffering or injustice.

was imprisoned and came out

at the

a

martyrdom in of love which cannot be A very young priest, who

beginning of the Russian revolution,

broken man, was asked what was

him, and he answered: 'Nothing

is

A man

can say that has the right attitude and anyone

shares his tragedy

There

is

must

of

left

of me, they have

left

burnt out every single thing, love only survives/

who

several

expresses the spirit of

basic attitude

itself, its

defeated

of martyrdom can be brought out by

who

also share in his unshakeable love.

the example of a

man who came

back from

Buchenwald and, when asked about himself, said that his sufferings were nothing compared to his broken-heartedness

about those poor German youths

cruel,

and

who

could be so

that thinking about the state of their souls, he

could find no peace. His concern was not for himself, and

he had spent four years there, nor for the innumerable people

who had

suffered

and died around him; but

condition of the tormentors. Those the side of Christ, those

Thirdly, there

camp by

a

is

who were

who cruel

suffered

were

for the

were on

not.

this prayer written in a concentration

Jewish prisoner:

Peace to

all

vengeance, to

men of all

demands

Crimes have surpassed grasped by B

evil will! Let there

human

all

for

be an end to

punishment and retribution

all .

.

.

measure, they can no longer be

understanding. There are too

many

martyrs

LIVING PRAYER

l8 .

.

.

And

justice,

so,

weigh not

their sufferings

on the

of thy

scales

Lord, and lay not these sufferings to the torturors* charge

to exact a terrible reckoning different

way! Put down

informers, the traitors and spiritual strength

of the

from them. Pay them back in a of the executioners, the men of evil will, the courage, the

in favour all

others,

their humility,

dignity, their constant inner striving

their lofty

and invincible hope, the

smile that staunched the tears, their love, their ravaged, broken hearts that remained steadfast itself,

this,

even

yes,

at

and confident in the face of death

moments of the utmost weakness

ransom for the triumph of righteousness, the evil he taken into account!

enemies' as

.

.

.

Let

all

O Lord, be laid before thee for the forgiveness of sins, as a memory

not

the

good and not

And may we

remain in our

not

nightmare, not

as their victims,

haunting spectres, but

let

as a

as helpers in their striving to

the fury of their criminal passions. There

is

destroy

nothing more that

we want of them. And when it is all over, grant us to live among men as men, and may peace come again to our poor .* earth - peace for men of goodwill and for all the others .

There was

also a Russian bishop

who

said that

privilege for a christian to die a martyr, because

martyr can,

.

it is

none but a

at the last judgement, take his stand in front

God's judgement thy example,

I

seat

and

say,

a

'According to thy

of

word and

have forgiven. Thou hast no claim against

them any more.' Which means that the one who suffers martyrdom in Christ, whose love is not defeated by suffering, acquires unconditional power of forgiving over the

who has inflicted the suffering. And this can be applied on a much lower level, on the level of everyday life; anyone who suffers a minor injustice from someone else can one

forgive or refuse to forgive.

* Found

in the archives of a

But

German

published in the Suddeutsche Zeitung.

this

is

a

two-edged

concentration

camp and

THE ESSENCE OF PRAYER sword;

if

you do not

you

forgive,

19

will not be forgiven

either.

Roman Catholics, with their acute sense of and the honour of God, are very conscious of the victory which Christ can gain through the suffering of French

justice

people: since 1797 there has existed an Order of Reparation,

which by perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

asks forgiveness for the crimes

of the world and the for-

giveness of individual sinners

by

This Order

and aims to give children

is

and adults the Typical also

also educational spirit

their victim's prayers.

of love.

the story of the French general Maurice

is

d'Elbee during the revolutionary wars; his

some

Bleus and

willingly, first

wanted

to shoot

captured

them; the general, un-

to consent, but he insisted that they should

read the Lord's Prayer aloud, which they did, and

when as

had

men

we

they came to the words 'Forgive us our trespasses forgive

stood, they

them

that trespass against us', they under-

wept and

let

the prisoners go. Later on, in 1794,

General d'Elbee was himself shot by the Bleus.

Jean Danielou, the French Jesuit writer, says in Holy Pagans that suffering

is

sinners, the righteous

sinner

who inflicts it.

drift apart

and

If there

sinners

parallel lines that

the link between the righteous and

man who

endures suffering and the

were not

that link, they

would

and righteous would remain on

never meet. In that

case, the righteous

would have no power over the sinner because one cannot deal with what one does not meet.

II

The Lord's Prayer

although

it is very simple,

The Lord's Prayer is it is

the only one

Acts,

one never

and

is

used so constantly,

problem and

a difficult prayer;

which the Lord gave,

yet, reading the

a great

finds

used by anyone at

it

what one would expect from

the

words

all,

which

is

not

that introduce the

prayer in Luke 11:1, 'Lord, teach us to pray, as John also

mean

taught his disciples/ But not being quoted does not

not being used, and in a a prayer but a

prayer:

it is

bondage

way

the Lord's Prayer

whole way of life expressed

is

in the

not only

form of a

image of the gradual ascent of the soul from

the

to freedom.

The prayer

is

built

with striking

pond we can observe the ripples spreading from the place where the pebble fell, farther and farther towards the banks, or on the contrary, we may begin with the banks and work back to the source of the movement, in the same way the Lord's precision. Just as

when

a pebble

falls

into a

Prayer can be analysed either beginning with the

words, or

else

with the

the progression

from

last. It is

way which

is

begin

the outside towards the centre of the

prayer, although for Christ

other

infinitely easier to

first

right.

and for the Church

it is

the

THE LORD This

is

PRAYER

21

of sonship - 'Our Father* - and in a although it may be used by anyone who

a prayer

certain sense,

approaches the Lord,

it

who

tionship of those Christ,

S

have found

expresses adequately only the rela-

are in the

their

way

Church of God, who,

to their father, because

only through Christ and in him that

we become

in

it is

the sons

of God. This teaching of a spiritual

when

set in parallel

life

can best be understood

with the story of Exodus and within

the experience of the beatitudes. Starting with the

words of the prayer and moving towards it

as a

the

first,

last

we

see

way of ascent; our starting-point at the end defines word at the beginning defines our state

a captivity, the last

of sonship.

The people of God, who had come free to the land of Egypt, had gradually become enslaved. The conditions of their life brought home to them their state of slavery work was heavier and heavier, the conditions of living more and more miserable; but this was not enough to make them :

move towards

real

certain point,

it

freedom. If misery increases beyond a

may

lead to rebellion, to violence, to

attempted escape from the painful, unbearable situation; but essentially neither rebellion nor because freedom to

God,

to self

is first

and

to

make

tasks

make

us free,

of all an inner situation with regard

to the surrounding world.

Every time they attempted

and heavier

flight

were given

bricks, they

to leave the country,

to the Jews.

When

new

they had

were refused the necessary straw, and

them go and gather straw for themselves (Ex 5:7), and 'Let more work be laid upon them, that they may labour therein.' He wanted them so

Pharaoh

said: 'Let

LIVING PRAYER

22

completely exhausted, so completely concerned with the that they should

have no thought for rebellion or deliver-

ance any more. In the same

long

as

devil,

souls

as

way

there

is

no hope

all

the

powers

at his disposal to enslave

and bodies and keep them away from the

God comes

himself to deliver

deliverance, but eternal slavery;

us, there will

and the

from Evil/ Deliverance from

evil

is

the

human

living

God.

be no

words we

last

find in the Lord's Prayer are for this very thing us

for us

we are enthralled by the prince of this world,

with

Unless

toil

:

'Deliver

what was

exactly

done in the land of Egypt through Moses, and what

is

achieved at baptism by the power of God, given to his

Church. The word of God resounds in

this

world, calling

everyone to freedom, giving the hope that comes from

heaven to those

word of God making

who

is

man

a

who

have

hope on

lost their

human soul, Church, making him one

preached and resounds in the a learner

of the

stands as an outsider in the porch,

the call and has

earth. This

come

to listen

(Rom

one

who

has heard

10:17).

When the learner is

determined to become a free man in kingdom of the Lord, the Church undertakes certain actions. What would be the good of asking a slave, who is still in the power of his master, whether he wants to be the

free? If

knows left

he dares ask for the freedom which

that he will be cruelly punished the

alone again with his master.

habit of slavery a

delivered

man

Through

new hope

is

asked of the one

he

moment he

fear

is

the

is

and from a is

devil. Therefore, before

who

in divine salvation, he

power of Satan. This

offered,

cannot ask for freedom until he

from the authority of the

any question

is

is

stands there, with a

made

free

from the

meaning of the exorcisms

THE LORD'S PRAYER which in the

are read at the outset

a

asked

if

he renounces the devil and

And

Christ.

integrate

will

of the baptismal service both

Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. It is only man is free from the bonds of slavery that he is

when

devil

23

him

wants

into herself, into the

Body of

God

men

but

slaves,

with him. The

and Pharaoh, and to be fed

And

at the

wants

one

free

in terms

in

The harmony of Christ.

of Exodus was Egypt

the values attached to them, namely,

alive,

on condition

that they

were sub-

which

for us the act of prayer,

is

a

more

of rebellion against slavery than taking

essential, final act is

evil

all

and kept

missive slaves.

up arms,

he wants to join

if

only after a free answer does the Church

same time

a sort

of return into our sense

of responsibility and relatedness to God.

So the begin,

is

flee

the discovery of slavery act

or whether

of rebellion or

we

re-establish ourselves, situations

with which Exodus begins, and

situation

by an

resolved

we

first

Heaven/ In

poor

itself,

we

way

that

flight,

remain

with regard to

of life, in the

'Blessed are the

rebel

and

it

slaves, unless

taught by the is

cannot be

because whether

God and

in spirit, for theirs

we

first

the

to

all

we the

beatitude:

Kingdom of

poverty, the state of a slave,

is

no

pass-

port to the kingdom of heaven; the slave can be deprived

not only of earthly goods but also of heavenly goods; such

poverty can be more overwhelming than simple deprivation of

what we need

for earthly

life.

St

John Chrysostom

man is not so much he who does not possess, but he who wants what he does not possess. Poverty is not rooted in what we have or have not, but in the degree to which we long for what is out of reach. When we think of our human condition wc can discover

says that the

poor

LIVING PRAYER

24 quite easily that

we

poor and

are utterly

destitute because

we possess is never ours, however we seem to be. When we try to grasp

whatever

rich

wealthy

anything

we

discover quite soon that

it

Our being is creative word of

has gone.

rooted in nothing except the sovereign

God who

of

called us out

and

total, radical

absence into his

we possess we cannot keep, and not only health but so many of our psychosomatic qualities: a man of great intelligence, because a minute presence.

The

and health

life

that

becomes

vessel has burst in his head,

senile

accountable or unaccountable reason, say

go

it

and

we

make

are

of stone. This

of misery, that

only of the fact that

make

is

us the children of the

moment of

not, because if at every state

or tiredness,

'flu

at the right

to church

but does

all

the basic poverty,

kingdom?

our

things escape us,

we do

we feel in a if we are aware

not possess them,

us the joyful children of a

no power and which we

does not

it

kingdom of divine

kingdom of heaven

that if nothing that

mine

that

is

that

makes things

there that

is

is

is

a gift

mine

is

in spirit'

lies

;

in the

the poverty

knowledge

really mine, then everything

of love, divine or

human

love,

quite different. If we realise that

in ourselves,

and yet

we

exist,

we

we

have,

ours, then everything

is

we

and

we have

can say that

a sustained unceasing act of divine love. If

whatever

love,

we have

hate.

This brings us back to the words 'poor that opens the

does

It

life

but the miserable victims of a situation over which

no being

some

moment, and at will, feel the symsomeone which we wish so much to feel, or we

cannot

pathy for

finished

is

In the realm of our feelings, for

intellectually.

we

and

we

see

can in no wise compel to be

divine love, concretely expressed

THE LORD at

PRAYER

S

25

every single moment; and then poverty

joy because

perfect

all

we

the root of

is

We

have proves love.

should

never attempt to appropriate things to ourselves because to call

something

means

less

and not a constant

'ours',

and not more.

If

it

is

mine,

is

his

relationship of mutual love; if it

day to day, from

split

second to

split

ously renewed act of divine love.

it

would mean

love/

The

what

the gospel calls the

relationship to

belong to the kingdom

second,

it is

which

this

divine

is

kingdom and

to the if

thought brings us

this

kingdom of God. Only

who

receive

it

means

of God, then

is

those

from

the

who do

not

things

all

to be dispossessed

moment when we

within the situation and that

God's and everything

a continu-

not mine;

it is

of love while possessed of things. The

God

from

it

possession, but alas without

to be rich, because to be rich

discover

alien to the

possess

I

king in the relationship of mutual love and

want

of God,

Then we come

joyful thought: 'Thanks be to God,

were mine,

is

it

and

gift

we

all

things are

begin to enter

acquire freedom.

was only when the Jews, guided and enlightened by Moses, realised that their state of enslavement had someIt

to

man-made God, when they

that

of the kingdom,

thing to do with God, and was not simply a situation,

it

was only when they turned

re-established a relationship that

which

is

something could happen; and that

is

true for

all

of us,

when we realise that we are slaves, when we realise that we are destitute, but when we also realise that this happens within the divine wisdom and that all things are within the divine power, that we can turn to because

Him

it is

and

only

say, 'Deliver us

As the Jews were

from

called

the evil one.'

by Moses

to escape

from

the

LIVING PRAYER

26

country of Egypt, to follow him in the dark night, to cross the

Red

Sea, so also

where

wilderness,

a

each individual brought into the

is

new

period begins.

He

free,

is

but not

yet enjoying the glory of the promised land, because he has taken with him, out of the land of Egypt, the soul of a slave, the habits

of a

temptations of a slave

slave, the

man takes infinitely more

the education of a free

the discovery of his enslavement.

remains very close, and potent: a slave has

its

The

standards are

somewhere

is

secure because his master

to be a slave,

however

the situation, free person

is

is

is

security,

own rooted in God

and

So

distressing

while to become a

we take our destiny

when our freedom is we become secure in a new way, and a

hands and that

is

however low,

responsible for him.

a state of utter insecurity;

into our

and very

to rest his head, a slave

painful, humiliating

form of

also a

time than

there

assured of food, a slave has a social standing,

he

and

of slavery

spirit

still

;

it is

only

very different one. This sense of insecurity

is

brought out in Samuel, when

the Jews asked the prophet to give centuries they

being

had been led by God,

them that

is

For

king.

a

by men who,

knew God's ways; as Amos says (3:7), a one with whom God shares his thoughts. And

saints,

prophet

is

then in the time of Samuel, the Jews discover that to be

under

God

because values

ask

it

alone

in a worldly sense, total insecurity

depends on

which

him

is,

saintliness,

are hard to get,

to give

them

on

dedication,

and they turn

a king, because

to

on moral

Samuel and

'We want

to be like

every other nation with the security which every nation has/

Samuel does not want to agree to what he

sees

is

an

:

THE LORD

God

apostasy; but

tells

PRAYER

S

him 'Hearken

27

to the voice of thy

people ... for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected

And 'This

me, that

I

should not reign over them'

(I

Sam

8:9).

whole picture follows of what their life will be will be the manner of the king that shall reign over

a

you: he will take your

and

for his chariots,

before his chariots

and appoint them for himself,

sons,

to be his .

.

.

to be confectionaries,

And

and

horsemen; and some

shall

run

he will take your daughters

and

to be cooks

to be bakers/

'Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of

Samuel and they lis'

(I

Sam

freedom. is

8: 19).

It is

Nay; but we They want to buy said,

not what

God wills

will

have

a

king over

security at the cost of

and what happens

for us,

exactly the reverse of the events of Exodus: God's will

that the security

of

slaves

is

to be forsaken

is

and replaced by

men in the making. This is a difficult situation because while we are in the making we do not yet know how to be free and we do not want to be slaves any more. Remember what happened to the Jews in the wilderness, how often they regretted the time when they the insecurity of free

were enslaved plained that

How

in Egypt, but fed.

now

often they

com-

they were without a roof, without food,

dependent on the will of God, which they had not yet learned to rely

but leaves

it

to

upon completely; us to become new

Like the Jews in Egypt slaves;

men:

left

into temptation.

And

these

God

to our

gives us grace,

creatures.

have spent

we are not yet in our souls,

selves, real free

tion'

we

for

in

our

all

our

wills, in

lives as

our whole

own powers we may

words 'Lead

- submit us not to the severe

test

fall

us not into tempta-

- must remind us

of the forty years the Jews spent crossing the short expanse

LIVING PRAYER

28

of territory between the land of Egypt and the promised

They took

land.

so long because

whenever they turned

away from God, their path turned away from the promised land. The only way in which we can reach the promised land

is

to follow in the steps of the Lord.

heart turns back to the land of Egypt,

we go astray. We God, we are all on

have

all

been

our way, but

we

set free

who

Whenever our

retrace

our

by

mercy of

the

steps,

will say that he does

not retrace his steps constantly, or turn from the right path? 'Lead us not into temptation',

our

state

let

us not

fall

back into

of slavery.

Once we have become aware of our enslavement, and have passed from mere lamentation and a sense of misery into a sense of brokenheartedness

and poverty of spirit, our

imprisonment in the land of Egypt

words of the next beatitudes

:

answered by the

is

'Blessed are they that

for they shall be comforted', 'Blessed are the

they

shall inherit the earth'.

result

This mourning that

of the discovery of the kingdom, of one's

sponsibility,

of the tragedy of being a

mourning than

that

which

is

mourn,

meek, for

slave,

is

a

is

the

own

more

re-

bitter

the lot of the simple slave.

The slave complains about an outer situation; this mourner, who is blessed by God, does not complain, he is brokenhearted,

and he

is

aware that

expression of something far

ment,

his severance

from the

can be done to escape

his outer

more

tragic

closeness

enslavement :

is

the

his inner enslave-

of God.

this situation unless

And nothing meekness

is

attained.

Meekness

is

a difficult

connotations and since

word which

it is

has acquired various

extremely rare in practice,

we

cannot turn to our experience of meek people, which would

THE LORD'S PRAYER

29

We

give us a clue to the meaning of the word. J.

B. Phillips' translation: 'Happy are those

nothing',

meaning

who

who do

'Blessed are those

find in

claim

not try to

The moment you do not want to possess, you become free because, whatever you do possess, by that you are possessed. Another interpretation of the word meek is found in the translation of the Greek word into a Slavonic word meaning 'made tame'. A person or an animal possess'.

that has

been tamed

and subject

whom

not simply terrified of punishment

is

to the authority of the master;

new

quality

who by

and

someone

in

someone who has

the process has gone farther,

acquired a

it is

this

tameness escapes

the violence of coercion.

At the threshold of our Egypt stands the condition other words, that

which we

are,

divine will, and

we

from

salvation that

we

the slavery of

should be tamed; in

should recognise

in the situation in

depth, significance, the presence of the it

should be neither flight nor rebellion,

movement guided by God, which begins with the kingdom of heaven that is within us and develops into the kingdom on earth. It is a period of wavering and of inner but a

struggle: 'Lead us not into temptation in the trial, help us in the fight

And now we

are at the point

Look back

Exodus,

at

at the

O

Lord, Protect us

which has begun

when

a

move

God

and they had it

to cross the

was not yet

is

Red

had become

that

enslaved because of their moral weaknesses.

no one

can be made.

Jews' awareness that they arc

not simply slaves but the people of

take risks, because

for us.'

They had

to

ever freed by a slave owner, Sea; but

the promised land,

it

beyond

the

Red Sea

was the burning

and they were aware of it and knew

that they

desert

would have

LIVING PRAYER

30 to cross

it

when we

in the face

decide to

our enslavement: attacked

of great

make

a

difficulties.

move

we must

And

be aware that

by violence, by beguilement, by

we

so are

that will liberate us

we

from be

shall

the inner enemies

that are our old habits, our old craving for security, that nothing

Beyond

that

is is

is

except the desert beyond.

us,

the promised land, but far beyond, and

must accept the There

promised

and

risks

we

of the journey.

one thing that stands

between Egypt and the

as a line

of demarcation

between slavery and

desert,

free-

dom; it is a moment when we act decisively and become new people, establishing ourselves in an absolutely new moral situation. In terms of geography it was the Red Sea, in terms

of the Lord's Prayer

it is

'Forgive us our trespasses

we forgive*. This 'as we forgive' is the moment when we take our salvation into our own hands, because whatever God does depends on what we do and this is tremend-

as

;

ously important in terms of ordinary

who

life.

If these people

moving out of Egypt into the promised land take with them, out of the Land of Egypt, their fears, their are

resentments, their hatreds, their grievances, they will be slaves in the

promised land. They will not be freemen,

even in the making. line

between the

And

trials

of

this fire

is

why

you

forgive, the measure

be used for you; and

as

you

what you do not forgive that

demarcation

and the beguilement of old

habits, stands this absolute condition

relaxes: as

at the

forgive,

which God never which you use

you

will be forgiven;

will be held against you.

It is

God does not want to forgive, but if we come we check the mystery of love, we refuse

giving,

there

is

no

place for us in the

will

kingdom.

We

not

unforit

and

cannot go

THE LORD

PRAYER

S

31

we are not forgiven, and we cannot be forgiven as long as we have not forgiven everyone of those who have farther if

wronged

This

us.

is

quite sharp

and

real

one has any right to imagine that he

God,

that he belongs to

To

his heart.

it,

if there

is

and precise and no

is still

forgive one's enemies

is

kingdom of

in the

unforgiveness in

the

first,

the

most

elementary characteristic of a christian;

failing this,

we

not yet christian

wandering

in the

at

all,

but are

still

arc

scorching wilderness of Sinai.

But forgiveness

To

achieve.

is

something extremely

to take to do.

it

moment of softening of

grant forgiveness at a

the heart, in an emotional

back

is

crisis is

comparatively easy; not

how

something that hardly anyone knows

What we

forgiveness

call

to

difficult

is

often putting the other

one on probation, nothing more; and lucky are the forgiven people

if it

is

We

only probation and not remand.

wait impatiently for evidence of repentance,

be sure that the penitent

is

we want

not the same any more, but

situation can last a lifetime

and our

attitude

is

to

this

exactly the

contrary of everything which the gospel teaches, and indeed

commands

us, to do.

So the law of forgiveness

is

not a

little

brook on the boundary between slavery and freedom:

it

The Jews did not and depth, the get over it by their own effort in man-made boats, the Red Sea was cut open by the power of God; God had to

has breadth

lead

with

them

across.

this quality

God remembers, wrong, he that

we

Red

it is

But of

to be led

by God one must commune

God which

is

the ability to forgive.

in the sense that,

will for ever, until

arc

Sea.

weak and

frail;

we

once

we

have done

change, take into account

but he will never remember

terms of accusation or condemnation;

it

will

in

never be

LIVING PRAYER

32

The Lord will yoke himself together our lives, and he will have more weight to

brought up against with

us, into

have a heavier

carry, he will

which we

us.

- 'Deliver us from the begin to say

it

unsubstantiated

a

new

we have discussed

- requires such a

attitude that

we

by an inner change in

us.

reassess-

can hardly

But

situation.

trial is

We feel a longing God

to

to ask for a radical change in our

to be able to say 'Forgive as

difficult ; it is

as yet

is

not yet capable of achievement; to ask

is

if

to Calvary

otherwise than in a cry, which

protect us in the

Thus,

sentence that

evil one'

ment of values and such

more

new ascent

are unwilling or incapable of undertaking.

To be able to say the first

which

cross, a

I

forgive*

is

even

one of the greatest problems of

life.

you are not prepared to leave behind you every

who were your

resentment that you have against those overlords or slavedrivers,

you cannot

cross.

If

you

are 7

capable of forgiving, that

of

your

slavery, all

is

of leaving behind in the land

slavish mentality, all

grasping and bitterness,

you can cross. After

the scorching wilderness, because free

man

to be

we

All that

are deprived

made out of a

it

that

roof,

no

we

are in

will take time for a

possessed as slaves in the land of

of- no

you

slave.

shelter,

the wilderness and God. Earth

feeding us;

your greed and

is

Egypt we

no food, nothing but

no longer capable of

can no longer rely on natural food, so

we

God gives it not we should

pray 'give us day by day our daily bread*.

we go astray, because if he did die before we could reach the border of the promised land.

even when

Keep

us alive,

O

God, give us time to

err, to repent, to

take the right course.

'Our

daily bread'

is

one of the possible ways of

trans-

THE LORD lating the

Greek

epiousion,

may

is

beyond

text.

be

33

This bread, which in Greek

daily,

substance.

PRAYER

S

The

but

it

may

also

is

called

be the bread that

Fathers of the Church, beginning

with Origen and Tertullian, have always interpreted

human

passage as referring not only to our to the mysterious bread

fed in this

new way,

we depend now

of the

this

needs but also

eucharist. Unless

we

are

mysteriously, by divine bread (because

for our existence

God

on God

we

alone)

will

manna and gave them water from the rock, struck by the rod of Moses. The two gifts are images of Christ: 'Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God/ This is what Christ recalled from the Old Testament (Dt 8:3) to confound

not survive (Jn 6:53).

Satan. This 'word*

Word

is

sent to his people the

not simply words but

that resounds for ever,

and then

also

furthermore, the bread that ran

the

it is

Word

all

of

all

the

things created,

incarnate, Jesus of Nazareth;

manna was the image, communion. The waters

the bread of which

which we

and

upholding

first

filled the

receive in

brooks and the

rivers at the

command

of Moses, are the image of that water which was promised to the Samaritan is

our

woman and

life.

Exodus

is

a

complex image

in the beatitudes

we

find the

they which do hunger and

they

of the blood of Christ which

shall

be

filled',

in terms

of the Lord's Prayer;

same progression:

'Blessed are

thirst after righteousness, for

'Blessed are the merciful, for they shall

obtain mercy'. First a simple bodily hunger and

deprivation of all possessions, which were a tion, a gift

slavery,

c

gift

of the earth from the overlord,

and then exactly

in the

way

in

a

thirst, a

of corrupstamp of

which the mourning

LIVING PRAYER

34

of the second beatitude turned Godwards, so

towards righteousness. to

is

moment we

increased, the

are

and hunger are turned

this thirst

A new dimension has been disclosed

men, one of longing, of craving,

a

dimension which

is

defined in one of the secret prayers in the liturgy as 'The

Kingdom

when we thank God

for to come',

we

given us his kingdom for which liturgy the desert

it is

It is

within

not

as

he has

are longing. In the

kingdom is there, but in the journey through the ahead, in a germinal us, as

an

state, still

beyond

attitude, as a relationship,

something which

feed and

that

is

already

by which we can be kept

but certainly

on which we can

life,

alive.

reach.

There

the bodily

is

hunger, born of our past and of our present, and the spiritual hunger, born of our future and of our vocation. 'Blessed are the merciful.' This journey

one; in terms of Exodus

who were launched the Lord's Prayer

mankind, is

it is

was the whole people of God

it

by

out, side

side, as a unit ; in

and our vocation,

everyone

who

is

on

it is

this

who

namely, mercy for our brothers

we are willing

terms of

the Church,

it is

journey; and there

one thing of immense importance that

gether with us. Unless

not a lonely

is

we must

learn,

are journeying to-

to bear

one another's

burdens, to carry one another's weight, to receive one

another as Christ receives

mercy, there

us, in

is

no way

across the wilderness. This journey in the scorching heat, in

the thirst and hunger, in the exertion of

man, will

is

a time

come

where the

becoming

a

new

of mercy, of mutual charity; otherwise none

to the place tables

where God's law

of the law are

eousness and fulfilment goes the companions

who walk

proclaimed,

offered. Thirst for right-

hand side

is

in

by

hand with mercy for

side

through the heat

THE LORD and the

sufferings

and

;

S

this thirst

now, than just absence of food. day

at the foot

of

PRAYER

35

and hunger imply more,

When

the

Sinai, they are capable

Jews arrive one

of understanding

and of being they have been tamed and have become one ;

people with one consciousness, with one direction, one intention.

They

are God's people, in

motion towards the

promised land. Their hearts that were darkened have be-

come more

transluscent,

mountain

will be given them, to each according to his

it

more

pure.

At the foot of the

strength and capabilities, to see something of

God

(because

'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God'), to

each of them in a different way, exactly Christ transfigured

as the disciples

on Mount Tabor, according

to

saw

what

they could comprehend.

At

this

that the

new

point a

tragedy occurs: Moses discovers

Jews have betrayed

the tables of the law; those

their vocation

which

are afterwards given are

the same, yet not the same: the difference in the fact that

time, he

had

when Moses brought on

a shining

his face

and he breaks

perhaps

is

shown

the law the second

which no one could bear

(Ex 34:30); neither could they bear the Lord revealed in all his glory and fragrance. What they are given is what they can bear, but

and not simply

a

law written by Moses (Ex 34*27)

a divine revelation

finger of God' (Ex lawlessness

it is

3 1

:

18).

The law stands halfway between

and grace; one can

progression: in Genesis says that if he

is

of love, 'written by the

we

trace three steps in striking

see the violent

we

an eye for an eye and

hear Christ,

who

offended he will avenge himself seventy

and seven fold (Gn 4:24); when we come told,

Lamcch,

we

a

we are and when

to Sinai,

tooth for a tooth;

are told 'seventy times seven shalt thou

LIVING PRAYER

36

forgive thy brother'. These are the measures of revolt against equity

Khomiakov,

and against

human

grace.

Russian theologian of the nineteenth

a

century, says that the will of God

is

a curse for the

demons,

God and freedom for the children true when we examine the gradual

law for the servants of of God. This seems so

progression of the Jews from Egypt to the promised land.

They departed

who had just become

slaves,

potentialities as prospective children

outgrow the mentality of stature

of sons

;

this

their

of God; they had to

and

slaves

aware of

attain the spirit

and

took place gradually in the course of a

long and extremely painful process.

We

see

them slowly

being built into a community of servants of God, of people

who

recognised that their Lord was no longer Pharaoh

but the Lord of Hosts, to they

owed

allegiance

could expect from

knowing

that

whom

they acknowledged that

and unconditional obedience; they

him both punishment and reward,

he was leading them beyond what they

then knew, into something which was their final vocation. It is

a

very

common

thought in the writings of the

early christian ascetics that

man must go

three stages - slave, hireling

and

obeys for

is

fear, the hireling

and the son odus

how

than slaves

is

one

who

son.

who

one

acts for love.

gradually the people of

and

hirelings

The

through these

slave

is

one

who

obeys for reward

We

can see in Ex-

God had become more

and the law stands

at the threshold,

geographically speaking, of the promised land.

At that

own

this is

threshold they discover, each with the ability

his,

will,

with the depth of God's

own

mind, for

spirit

this

that

is

his,

God's

law can be seen

in

THE LORD ways:

several it

is

if

a series of

we

take

PRAYER

S

it

is

law in the course of time

two commandments first

:

who

are

made

also

and

discipline

same time

at the

with

it

still

we

see that

God and the love of the love of God expressed commandments we have

concrete, tangible, workable.

rule for those

who

are

in the

still

of becoming sons, but

in the process

it is

able to look at

the love of

four of the ten are

man,

making,

at

these imperatives, coalesce

concretely; and in the six other

is

look

Exodus,

after

commandments,

these various

The law

we

if

number were

vocation, as an increasing

the love of

thou shah

shalt,

New Testament, with the eyes of our human

the eyes of the

man. The

sentence,

law in the mentality of the Old

Testament. But on the other hand,

into

by

formally, sentence

it

commandments: 'Thou

not/ in that sense

this

37

already the law of the

New

Testa-

ment. The problem between man and man and between man and God is that of establishing divine peace, peace in the

name of God, our

solidarity

human

common sonship,

our

is

love must be

on more

summed up

solidarity.

first

of all

also

have seen that to is

with one's

our human Divine and

in the establish-

we

self.

exist in the desert, the absolute

mutual forgiveness,

be taken; whereas

find in

which expresses the mind and

now

another step must

Exodus the imperative law will

we

of God,

find in the

Lord's Prayer 'Thy will be done'. 'Thy will be done' a submissive readiness to bear it

to be.

basic

right relationships, the right relationship with

God, with men and

prerequisite

built

common Lord,

and our narrower church

ment of the

We

not built on mutual

is

sympathy, but which

attraction or facts;

peace which

It is

God's

will, as

the positive attitude of those

we

who

is

often

not take-

have gone

LIVING PRAYER

38

through the wilderness, land and real

on

who

set

earth as

out to

it is

who

have entered the promised

make

the will of

God

in heaven. St Paul says that

colony of heaven (Phil 3:20; Moffat's

means are

group of people whose mother

a

present and

we

are a

He who

translation).

city

is

heaven,

on earth to conquer it for God and to bring the kingdom

of God quest,

if

only to a small spot.

which

consists in

It is

of con-

a peculiar type

winning over people to the realm

of peace, making them subject to the prince of peace and

making them

enter into the

harmony which we

the

call

kingdom of God. It is indeed a conquest, a peacemaking that will make us sheep among wolves, seeds scattered by which must

the sower,

die in order to bear fruit

and to feed

others.

'Thy

will be done' seen in this

situation as sons

is

way from

something quite different from the

which we have

kind of obedience, submissive or

resistant,

seen in the beginning of Exodus,

when Moses

his

within our

countrymen in motion towards freedom.

tried to

Now

put

they

we have, the mind of Christ, now we know the will of God, we are no longer servants but friends (Jn 15:15). He does not mean a vague relationship of goodwill, but

have,

something extremely deep that binds us together. This the situation in

which we walk

is

into the promised land,

when we

say in a

alien will,

not

a will with

which we have become completely harmonious.

And we

new way 'Thy

as a will

must, the

will be done', not as

strong and able to break us, but

moment we do

this,

implied in being sons of God, in being

accept

all

that

an as,

is

members of the one

body. As he came into the world to die for the salvation

of the world, so are

we

elect for this

purpose; and

it

may

THE LORD be

at the cost

of our

around us and

There

lives that

we

between

God

of Egypt, or in the scorching wilderness, and

anyhow, whatever

a gradual training

shows

a slavedriver, but a

his

him

transforms

own

in

would

one opposed

to

it

subjection. Secondly,

that this king

is

not an overlord,

king of goodwill, and that obedience

all;

people, his

First, his will

resistance

would be broken: obedience means

to

are to bring peace

the king, perceived

the new situation of the promised land. prevail

39

kingdom.

establish the

a difference

is

in the land

own

PRAYER

S

that

army

we

can be not just subjects but

we discover summed up by

in motion. Lastly,

the king in the full sense of this

word

St Basil: 'Every ruler can rule, only a

as

king can die for

his

There

is

here such identification of the king with

his subjects, that

is

with his kingdom, that whatever happens

subjects/

to the

kingdom happens

to the king;

and not only

identi-

but an act of substitutive love which makes the

fication,

king take the place of his subjects. The king becomes man,

God

is

incarnate.

He

enters into the historical destiny

mankind, he puts on the

flesh that

parcel of the total cosmos, with

human

fall.

He

its

makes him

part

of

and

tragedy caused by the

goes to the very depth of human condition,

up to judgement, iniquitous condemnation and death, the

God and so being able to die. The kingdom of which we speak in this petition is the kingdom of this king. If we are not at one with him and with all the spirit of the kingdom, now understood in a new way, we are not capable of being called the children of God, or of saying 'Thy Kingdom come'. But what wc must realise is that the kingdom we ask tor is a kingdom experience of having lost

which

is

defmed by the

last

beatitudes: 'Blessed are they

LIVING PRAYER

40

which

you, and persecute you and

revile

evil against

we

when men

are persecuted/ 'Blessed are ye,

are to

you, for

my

shall say all

sake/ If the

pay the cost which

is

kingdom

shall

manner of is

come,

to

defined in these beatitudes.

The kingdom of which we are speaking is a kingdom of love and it would be superficially, seemingly, so nice to enter

yet

it;

side, it

it is

not nice, because love has got a tragic

means death

of our

selfish,

to each of us, the complete dying out

self-centred

self,

away but dying

flower fades

and not dying out

as a

of the

a cruel death, the death

crucifixion.

Only within

of God be hallowed and receive is

kingdom can the Name glory from us; because it

the situation of the

not our words and our gestures, even

name of God,

glory to the

which

is

saviour.

the radiance and the glory of our

And

As we

see

versal value

this

it

name

now,

and

is

God

one

love,

significance, expressing,

the plenitude of

life

give

maker and our

in the Trinity.

the Lord's Prayer has a complete uni-

order, the ascent of every soul,

the

liturgical, that

our being the kingdom,

it is

in

prayer of christians.

God;

The

from

it

is

first

though in reverse

the captivity of sin to

not just a prayer,

words 'Our

it is

Father* are

Matthew 11:27 the Lord says: 'No man knoweth the Son but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him/ To know God as

characteristically christian. In St

our father in an approximate christians

but to

father in the

way

many in

way

is

people, yet to

given not only to

know him

which Christ revealed

it

to us,

as

is

our

given

only to christians in Christ. Outside the biblical revelation

God appears to us as the creator of all things. A life attentive

THE LORD

PRAYER

S

41

and worshipful

may

loving, full of

wisdom, and by analogy may lead

teach us that this creator

merciful,

is

us to

speak of the creator of all things in terms of fatherhood; he

with us in the

deals

way

in

which

with

a father deals

his

children.

Even before the

revelation of Christ

one striking example of a pagan, but

in terms a

was on

a

we

man who was

the verge of this

of sonship and fatherhood;

find in scripture strictly

speaking

knowledge of God

it is

He

Job.

termed

is

pagan because he does not belong to the race of Abraham,

he

not one of the inheritors of the promises to Abraham.

is

He

is

one of the most striking figures of the Old Testament

because of his contest with God.

The

know God

as their

overlord:

do what he has done

to Job,

God

with him

is

men who argue God is entitled to

three

right in

whatever he

does because he is the Lord of all things. And that is just the point which Job cannot accept, because he knows God differently. In his spiritual experience

that

God

is

he knows already

not simply the overlord that

him

cannot accept

almighty being

as

who

above

all.

one wielding arbitrary power,

as

He an

can and has a right to do anything he

chooses. Since, however,

about himself,

is

all this is

God

has not yet said anything

a hope, a prophetic vision

yet the very revelation of

God

and not

in his fatherhood.

When the Lord appears to Job and answers his questions, he speaks in terms of the pagan revelation, which

by the words of the Psalm: 'The heavens of

God and

19:1).

the firmament sheweth his

Job understands, because,

Jeremiah (31:33), 'The

(Rom

2:15).

God

Law

as

of God

is

is

typified

declare the glory

handywork'

(Ps

Paul says, repeating written

111

our

confronts Job with a vision of

hearts' all

the

LIVING PRAYER

42

world and reasons with him;

created

Job

fact that

he

is

God real

more

is

then, in spite of the

God

apparently found wrong,

right than his gainsayers, than those

an earthly overlord. Although he

as

declares that

who

fell

short of a

knowledge of the divine fatherhood he had gone

beyond what

knew about God. One may

his friends

Old Testament we

that in the

vision of the fatherhood

mankind

of

find in Job the

God and of

that can be achieved only

equal of both

says,

*

prophetic

first

by someone who

Neither

is

we

see in

there

him one who

has

understanding of his contemporaries, but

no ground

to affirm his faith

and

his

of the

is

turns accusingly

any daysman

upon

us

outgrown

the

(mediator) betwixt us, that might lay his hand both' (Job 9: 33),

say

that salvation

God and man. When Job

towards God, and

God

regard

who

has as yet

knowledge, because

has not yet spoken through Christ.

The mystery of sonship and the mystery of fatherhood are correlative: you cannot know the father, unless you know the son, neither can you know the son, unless you are the father; there is no knowledge from without. Our relationship with God is based on an act of faith, supplemented by God's response, fruition. is

The way

an act of

in

known

is

called

and renewed,

Christ

is

by

Christ that forget

is

true:

we is

we become

in baptism.

to those

faith to

sons of God.

affection,

who

way

In a

have been

what members of only by becoming become, by

that the fatherhood

God becomes

by God

God and

only to

birth. It

of warmth and

of

which we become members of Christ

faith, fulfilled

which

that brings this act

of God

it is

participation,

What we must

not

more than an attitude more real and more sharply is

in Christ, the father

of those

who

THE LORD

PRAYER

S

43

become members of the body of Christ, but one does not get linked with Christ by any kind of loose sentimentality: it is

an

which may take

ascetical effort

and

a lifetime

more than one guessed at the start. The fact that Christ and we become one, means

cost

far

applies to Christ applies to us,

unknown

and

we God

that

to the rest of the world, call

that

what

can, in a

way

our

no

father,

longer by analogy, no longer in terms of anticipation or

prophecy, but in terms of Christ. This has a direct bearing

upon

the Lord's Prayer:

on the one hand, the prayer can

be used by anyone, because

it is

universal,

the ladder

it is

of our ascent towards God, on the other hand,

and exclusive:

lutely particular

are, in Christ, the sons

to

him

the prayer

it is

safer to

it is

not the

because for

is

father,

envisaged in

its

study and analyse

them

it is

of God, and these

and

we it is

of an

Christ has given

no longer an

first

are

we

it

ascent, but

to those

ours.

words 'Our

We may be it,

ascent that

are, in the

unworthy of this

have to answer for

who,

is

spoken

Father' establish the fact

we

belong.

calling.

It is

no good

We have accepted

the prodigal son and

but what

of,

Church, the children

is

certain

can transform us back into that which

When

can speak

universal meaning,

in terms

it

and make us take our stand where

it,

who

who

together with him, are the children of God,

a state, a situation;

saying

the prayer of those

of the eternal

way in which

him and

it is

abso-

as sons.

When

in

it is

it is

is

we

will

that nothing

we no

longer

arc.

the prodigal son returned to his father, and was

am no more worthy

about to say:

'I

make me

one of thy hired

as

father allowed

him

to

to be called thy son,

servants'

pronounce the

(Lk 15:19), the

first

words:

'I

have

LIVING PRAYER

44

sinned against heaven and in thy sight and

am no more

worthy

to be called thy son', but there he stopped him.

Yes, he

is

not worthy, but he

You

worthiness.

family, whatever

ever

we

we

are,

cannot cease to be a

you

father,

we

our father, and sonship.

We

we

is

call

are created

by him

as his children

we become

and

it is

prodigal

Imagine that the prodigal son did not come back, but

settled this

What-

are answerable for the relationship of

only by rejecting our birthright that sons.

not.

God our where we stand. He is

God, or to

have no escape. That

un-

however unworthy we

life is,

are to be called the sons of

his

member of your

worthy or

do, whether

whatever our

of

a son in spite

is

and married

in the strange land, the child

born of

marriage would be organically related to the prodigal's

father. If he

be received

went back as

would be answerable remain a stranger to It is

to his father's native land he

one of the family;

if

for not returning

and choosing

is

the return of the children of many

generations to the household of the father.

same

to

his father's family.

baptism which

a child in the

would

he did not go back he

spirit in

And we

which we cure

a

baptise

baby born

on he wrongly comes to think that it would have been more convenient to have kept his infirmity, to be of no use to society and to be free from the burden of social obligations, that is another matter. The with a

disease. If later

Church, in baptising a responsible

child, heals

member of the

only

it

in order to

make

it

a

real society.

Rejection of one's baptism amounts to the rejection of

an

act

of healing. In baptism

we

not only become healthy

we become organically members of the body of Christ. At that point, calling God 'Our Father' we have come

but

THE LORD to Zion, to the top

mount we find

S

PRAYER

of the mount, and

45 at the

top of the

the Father, divine love, the revelation of the

Trinity; and just without the walls the small

hill

which we

Calvary, with history and eternity blending there in

call

this vision.

This

From

where the

is

having

there

we

can turn round and look back.

christian should begin his christian

fulfilled this ascent,

and should begin

to say the

Lord's Prayer in the order in which the Lord gives as the

life,

it

to us

prayer of the only begotten Son, the prayer of the

Church, the prayer of each of us in our togetherness with all,

as a

person

then that step

by

those

we

who

a

son within the Son.

And

it is

only

down from the top of the mountain, meet those who are still on their way or

can go

step, to

who

is

have not yet begun

their

way.

Ill

The Prayer of Bartimaeus

the case of some

gives us

Bartimaeus, as recorded in

insight into a certain

Mark

10:46,

number of points

re-

lating to prayer.

And they came to Jericho and as he went out ofJericho with ;

his disciples

and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus,

by the highway side, begging. And when was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and thou son of David, have mercy upon me/ And many

the son of Timaeus, sat

he heard that say, 'Jesus,

it

charged him that he should hold his peace; but he cried the

more

of David, have mercy on me/ and commanded him to be called, and

a great deal, 'Thou, son

And Jesus

stood

still,

they called the blind man, saying to him, be of good comfort, rise;

he

calleth thee.

and came to

'What

Jesus.

And he, casting away his garment, And Jesus answered and said unto

wilt thou that

I

should do unto thee?'

The

blind

rose,

him,

man

might receive my sight/ And Jesus said unto him: 'Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole/ And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way. said

unto Him, 'Lord, that

I

This man, Bartimaeus, was not a young

he had

sat for a

number of

man apparently

years at the gate of Jericho,

THE PRAYER OF BARTIMAEUS from

receiving his sustenance

wealth of those

of

who passed by.

he had tried

his life

ways of being

the

healed.

mercy or

He had

means and

all

existing

As

a child, he

visited all those

because they had a

He had

gift,

the indifferent

likely that in the course

It is

all

possible

had probably been

brought to the temple, prayers and offered.

47

sacrifices

who

had been

could heal, either

or because they had knowledge.

surely fought for his sight

and he had been con-

Every human device had been

stantly disappointed.

yet blind he remained.

He had

probably

tried,

heard in the

also

Galilee, a

young preacher had appeared in man who loved people, who was merciful and

who was

a holy

previous months that a

work

miracles.

man of God, a man who could heal and He had probably often thought that if he

could he would have gone to meet him; but Christ was

going from one place to another and there was that a blind

that spark acute,

he

man

should find his

by

to him.

And

chance

so,

with

made despair even deeper and more

of hope that

sat

way

little

the gate of Jericho.

One day a crowd passed him, a crowd greater than usual, a noisy oriental crowd; the blind man heard it and asked who was there, and when he was told that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to

had survived fire

his

whom he

way.

take

him

and he began to

burning

had never been able

to meet,

He was

became

passing by, and every step nearer,

and then every

step

and farther away, hopelessly so; 'Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy

farther cry,

upon me.' This was that he could

that

a fire, a

was bringing him nearer and

would

Every spark of hope

in his soul suddenly

of hope. Jesus,

was passing

call out.

make

the

most perfect profession of

at that

moment. He recognised

in

faith

him

LIVING PRAYER

48

the son of David, the Messiah; he could not yet call

him

the son of

God, because even the

know;

not yet

who was happens

he recognised in him the

but

expected. constantly

did

disciples

one

Then something happened which in our lives: they told him to be

quiet.

How

often does

it

struggling for years

begin to cry to God,

outward voices

as

How many

ing? care?

on our own, when on

many voices

we

a sudden

try to silence our prayers,

well as inward voices.

Is it

worth pray-

you

and

God

years did

he to care

Is

not happen that after seeking and

struggle

now? What

is

did not

the use of praying?

Go back into your hopelessness, you are blind, and blind for ever.

But the greater the opposition, the

evidence that help violently as

at

when we

hand.

The

the

is

devil never attacks us so

are quite close to the

term of our

we might yet be saved, but often are not, we give way at the last moment. Give in, says the

struggle,

because

is

greater also

and

make haste, it is too much, it is more than you can stand, you can put an end to it at once, do not wait, you cannot endure it any more. And then we commit suicide, devil,

physically, morally, spiritually;

and accept death, and

we might

We

just a

we

renounce the struggle

minute before help was

at

hand

have been saved.

must never

louder they

listen to these voices; the

shout, the stronger should be our purpose;

long

ready to cry out

as

did. Jesus Christ

was passing by,

by, but the people

as necessary, as

who were

loud

his last

we must as

Bartimaeus

hope was passing

surrounding Christ were

either indifferent or trying to silence him. His grief

suffering

were out of

place.

be

They,

who

and

perhaps needed

THE PRAYER OF BARTIMAEUS Christ

less,

but surrounded him, wanted

him

Why

in distress inter-

with them.

him

man

should that blind

knew

rupt them? But Bartimaeus for

49 to be busy

was no hope

that there

one vanished. This depth of hopelessness

if this last

was the well from which sprang

a faith, a prayer full

of

such conviction and such insistence that

it broke through all - one of those prayers which beat at the gates of

barriers

heaven

as St

John Climacus

profound he did not

so

him

says.

Because

to be quiet, to hold his peace;

tried to prevent

his despair

listen to the voices

him from

was

commanding

and the more they

reaching out to Christ, the

louder he said: 'Thou, son of David, have mercy on me!' Christ stood

worked

still,

asked for

him

brought forward and

to be

a miracle.

We can learn from Bartimaeus in our practical approach when we

God wholeheartedly, God always hears us. Usually when we realise that we can no longer depend upon all that we are accustomed to find reliable around us, we are not yet ready to renounce these to prayer that

things.

We

earthly

ways

we it is

turn to

can see that there

no hope

is

search for our sight and

we

are constantly frustrated;

torment and hopelessness and

But

that only

God

thy hands

my

if at that is left,

soul

if

moment we

and

human,

We are aiming at something,

are concerned.

defeated.

as far as

say:

and body,

'I

we

stop there,

turn to God,

trust thcc

my

whole

we

are

knowing

and commit into life/

then despair

has led us to faith.

Despair

is

conducive to

a

new

spiritual life

have got the courage to go deeper and that

what we

are despairing about

but the means

D

we

is

when we

farther, realising

not the

have employed to reach

final it.

victory

Then we

LIVING PRAYER

50

new way. God may bring us back to one of the means we have already tried, but which, under him, we may be able to use successfully. There should always be real cooperation between God and man and then God will give intelligence, wisdom, power start at

to

rock bottom in quite a

do the

right thing

and achieve the right

goal.

IV Meditation and Worship

meditation and prayer there

is

no danger

are often confused, but

in this confusion if meditation develops

when prayer degenerates into meditation. Meditation primarily means thinking, even when God is the object of our thoughts. If as a result we gradually go into prayer; only

deeper into a sense of worship and adoration, sence of God

grows

so powerful that

if the pre-

we become aware of we

being with God, and

if gradually, out of meditation

move into

right but the contrary should never

prayer,

it is

be allowed, and in

;

this respect there

is

a sharp difference

between meditation and prayer.

The main

haphazard thinking exercise

of

between meditation and our usual

distinction

coherence;

is

intellectual sobriety.

speaking of the

way

in

it

should be an

Theophane

which people

buzz around in our heads

mosquitoes, in

all

and without particular

The

first

thought,

is

the Recluse,

usually think, says

that thoughts

directions,

ascetical

like a

swarm of

monotonously, without order

result.

thing to learn, whatever the chosen subject of to pursue a line.

Whenever we begin

to think

LIVING PRAYER

52

of God, of things divine, of anything that soul, subsidiary

many and

the

life

of the

thoughts appear; on every side

we

see so

possibilities, so

richness; but

many

we

way

in

things that are full of interest

must, having chosen the subject of

our thinking, renounce the only

is

all,

except the chosen one. This

which our thoughts can be kept

is

straight

and can go deep.

The purpose of meditation exercise in thinking;

it

is

is

not to achieve an academic

not meant to be a purely in-

performance, nor a beautiful piece of thinking

tellectual

without further consequences; straight thinking

it is

meant

to be a piece

under God's guidance and Godwards,

and should lead us to draw conclusions about It is

important to

of

realise

from

how

to live.

the outset that a meditation

has been useful when, as a result,

it

enables us to live

more

and more concretely in accordance with the

precisely

gospel.

Every one of us

is

open to others when ;

ing,

it is

impervious to certain problems and

we

are not yet accustomed to think-

better to begin with something

which

is

alive for

with those sayings which

we

find attractive,

which 'make our heart burn within

us',

or

us,

either

contrary, with those against

which we

else,

rebel,

on

the

which we

we find both in the gospel. Whatever we take, a verse, a commandment, an event in the life of Christ, we must first of all assess its real ob-

cannot accept;

jective content. This

is

purpose of meditation

is

extremely important because the

not to build up a

ture but to understand a truth. is

The

God's truth, and meditation

is

truth

is

meant

fantastic struc-

there, given,

it

to be a bridge

between our lack of understanding and the truth revealed.

MEDITATION AND WORSHIP It is

a

way

in

53

which we can educate our intelligence, and mind of Christ' as St Paul says

gradually learn to have 'the (1

Cor 2:16). To make sure of the meaning of the

simple as

text

is

not always

as

sounds; there are passages that are quite easy,

it

there are other passages

where words

are used

which can

be understood only against the background of our experience, or

of the

traditional understanding

of these words.

For instance, the phrase 'The Bride of the Lamb' can be understood only

word 'Lamb' and

;

if

we know what

otherwise

it

will be misunderstood.

One

means by the

becomes completely nonsensical There are words which

understand adequately only technical

scripture

if

we

we

can

ignore the particular or

meaning they may have acquired.

word is 'spirit'. For a christian, 'spirit' is a technical word it is either the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity or one of the components of the human body - body and soul. It does not always convey with the same such

;

simplicity to

convey

tact

with

and breadth what the writers of the gospel meant ;

it

its

means, there

The word

become so specialised that it has lost conroot. To make sure of the text and what it has

is

also the definition given in the dictionary.

spirit,

or any other word, can be looked up and

immediately seems simple and concrete, although

have developed into a deeper meaning efforts

deeper meaning before one,

we should we have got

of theologians. But

as a result

never

start

it

may

of the

with the

the simple concrete

which everyone could understand

at the

time Christ

spoke with the people around him.

There are things which

we

cannot understand except

within the teaching of the Church; scripture must be

LIVING PRAYER

54

understood with the mind of the Church, the mind of

Church has not changed;

Christ, because the

experience the

first

it

continues to live the same

century; and words spoken

by

in

life as it

its

inner

lived in

Paul, Peter, Basil

or others within the Church, have kept their meaning. So, after a preliminary

language,

understanding in our own contemporary

we must

turn to what the Church means by the

words; only then can we ascertain the meaning of the given text

and have

clusions.

Once we have got

must

whether in

see

and

a right to start thinking

its

offer us suggestions, or

the

utter simplicity

even

to

draw con-

meaning of the it

text,

we

does not already

better, a straight

As the aim of meditation, of understanding

command.

scripture,

is

to

we must draw practical conclusions and act upon them. When we have discovered the meaning, when in this sentence God has spoken to us, we must look into the matter and see what we can do, as in fact we do whenever we stumble on a good idea; when we come to realise that this or that is right, we immediately think how to integrate it into our life, in what way, on God,

fulfil

the will of

what

occasion,

stand

what can be done and

our friends

all

by what method. about

Simple, an Egyptian

read the

first

it;

we

saint,

verse of the

It is

not enough to under-

enthusiastically to start telling

should

start

doing

first

Psalm: 'Blessed

is

the

man

of the ungodly,' and im-

mediately, Paul departed into the wilderness. thirty years,

Paul the

once heard Anthony the Great

that walketh not in the counsel

some

it.

when Anthony met him

Only

after

again, St Paul

him with great humility: 'I have spent all this time trying to become the man that does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly/ We do not need understanding on many

said to

MEDITATION AND WORSHIP points to reach perfection;

what we need

work

and to become

to try to understand

we

Often next,

which

consider one or

wrong become

is

long time to

since

two

we

points

is

55

thirty years

have just seen that

recollected,

what

of

new man. and jump to the that

it

takes a

the Fathers call an

someone capable of paying attention to long and so well that nothing of it is lost. The

attentive person,

an idea so

spiritual writers tell

us

:

of the past and of the present day

will

all

on it hour after hour, day after you have exhausted all your possibilities, in-

take a text, ponder

day, until tellectual

and emotional, and thanks

and re-reading of attitude.

this

text,

you have come

Quite often meditation

examining the

text,

to attentive reading

consists in

new

to a

nothing but

turning over these words of

addressed to us, so as to

become completely

them, so imbued with them that gradually

words become completely one. In

God

familiar with

we and

this process,

even

these if

we

we have not found any particular intellectual richness, we have changed. On many occasions we can do a lot of thinking there are plenty of situations in our daily life in which we have nothing to do except wait, and if we are disciplined - and this is part of our spiritual training - we will be able to think that

;

concentrate quickly and fix our attention at once on the subject of our thoughts, of our meditation.

by compelling our thoughts

to

do

to

one focus and to drop everything

it

extraneous thoughts will intrude, but

We must learn

to attach themselves

else.

if

In the beginning,

we push them away

constantly, time after time, in the end they will leave us in peace.

It is

only

we have become

when by able

to

training,

by

exercise,

by

habit,

concentrate profoundly and

LIVING PRAYER

56 quickly, that

we

can continue through

we

of what

collectedness, in spite

be in a

some

sort

However,

are doing.

become aware of having extraneous already have achieved

in a state of

life

to

we must

thoughts,

We can

of collectedness.

crowd, surrounded by people and yet completely

alone and untouched by what us whether to allow

what

an event in our inner

is

is

or not

life

depends on

it

happening outside to become

down, but

attention will break

going on;

;

if

if

we

we do

allow

it

not,

we

to,

our

can be

completely isolated and collected in God's presence whatever happens around

about

this sort

us.

There

is

a story

A Moslem's family used to

of concentration.

keep a respectful silence whenever he had a

knew

that they could

make

as

by Al Absihi

much

visitor,

but they

noise as they

wanted

while he was praying, because at such times he heard no-

was not even disturbed by

thing; in fact, one day he fire that

broke out in

a

his house.

We may sometimes find ourselves in a

group of people

arguing hotly with no hope of a solution.

We cannot leave

without causing further disorder, but what

we

mentally to withdraw, turn to Christ and say,

you

are here, help!'

And just

sound so absurd one would situation.

some

Objectively he

difference

can do

know

make

Christ present in the

always present, but there

can do nothing but

sit

way,

if

say.

One

back and just remain with Christ and

the others talk. His presence will

one could

is

between being there objectively and being

introduced by an act of faith into a given situation.

let

is

that

be with Christ. If it did not

say,

is

'I

And from

do more than anything

time to time, in an unexpected

one keeps quiet and

silent

together with Christ,

one will discover that one can say something quite

sensible

MEDITATION AND WORSHIP would have been impossible

that

57

in the heat

of argu-

ment. Parallel a peaceful

body

with mental

discipline,

we must

learn to acquire

body. Whatever our psychological

reacts to

and our bodily

it;

state

our

activity,

determines to

a

certain degree the type or quality of our psychological

Theophane

activity.

the Recluse, in his advice to anyone

wishing to attempt the

spiritual life, says that

conditions indispensable to success slackness

:

is

'Be like a violin string, tuned to a precise note,

without slackness or supertension, the body

erect, shoulders

back, carriage of the head easy, the tension of

oriented towards the heart/

and

muscles

great deal has been written

on

to increase one's ability to be attentive, but

level accessible to

many, Theophane's advice seems

simple, precise

and

be

same time.

alert at the

that

A

all

about the ways in which one can make use of the

said

body

one of the

never to permit bodily

to be

We must learn to relax and We must master our body so

practical.

should not intrude but

it

a

make

collectedness easier for

us.

Meditation rejection

an activity of thought, while prayer

is

is

the

of every thought. According to the teaching of the

eastern Fathers, even pious thoughts

and the deepest and

loftiest

theological considerations, if they occur during

prayer,

must be considered

as a

temptation and suppressed;

because, as the Fathers say,

it is

foolish to think about

and forget

that

you

guides of Orthodoxy

with

God by

God

are in his presence. All the spiritual

warn

us against replacing this meeting

thinking about him. Prayer

is

essentially

standing face to face with God, consciously striving to

remain collected and absolutely

still

and attentive

in his

LIVING PRAYER

58 presence,

which means standing with an undivided mind,

an undivided heart and an undivided will in the presence of the Lord and that ;

may

give us, there

is

not easy. Whatever our training

always a short cut open

is

any time:

at

whom

undividedness can be attained by the person for the love of God

is

everything, who has broken all ties, who

completely given to God; then there

is

is

no longer personal

but the working of the radiant grace of God.

striving,

God must always be the focus of our attention for there are many ways in which this collectedness may be falsified when we pray from a deep concern, we have a sense that our whole being has become one prayer and we imagine that we have been in a state of deep, real prayerful colbut

lectedness,

tention

we

this

not true, because the focus of at-

is

was not God;

it

was the object of our prayer.

are emotionally involved,

we

because

no

alien

thought intrudes,

are completely concerned with

praying about;

when we

only

it is

which means

that

it

what we

turn to pray for

other person or need that our attention persed,

When

is

are

some

suddenly

dis-

was not the thought of God,

not the sense of his presence that was the cause of this concentration, but our

human concern

is

human

concern.

mean

does not

It

of no importance, but

it

means

that

that the

thought of a friend can do more than the thought of God,

which

is

a serious point.

One of attentive

ing

:

the reasons

is

'God

that the act

is

intellectually

why we

find

of faith which

here,' carries too little

aware

physically in a

that

way

energies, thoughts,

it

that

God

is

so difficult to be

we make

weight for

here, but not

would

emotions and

collect will,

in affirm-

us.

aware of

and focus

making

We are all

it

our

us nothing

MEDITATION AND WORSHIP

we

but attention. If

prepare for prayer by a process of

imagination: 'The Lord Christ like, this

me

to

.

.

because

is

what

know

I

an idol that

We

presence.

is

here, that

about him,

.\ the richer the

it is

59

this

image, the is

built

is

is

it is

what he means

less real

the presence,

which obscures

can derive some help from

emotional concentration, but

what he looks

it

the real

for a sort of

not God's presence, the

objective presence of God.

real,

The

and the whole Orthodox

early Fathers

tradition

we must concentrate, by an effort of will, on words the of the prayer we pronounce. We must pronounce the words attentively, matter-of-factly, without teach us that

trying to create any sort of emotional leave

it

to

God

state,

and

we

to arouse whatever response

we must

are capable

of.

St

John Climacus

concentrate.

He

way of learning

gives us a simple

says:

choose a prayer, be

to

the Lord's

it

Prayer or any other, take your stand before God, become

aware of where you are and what you are doing, and

pronounce the words of the prayer certain time

you

wandered; then sentence

restart the

which was

You may have times;

will discover that

do

to

you may,

the

last

attentively. After a

your thoughts have

prayer on the words or the

you pronounced

that ten times,

attentively.

twenty times or

in the time appointed for

fifty

your prayer,

be able to pronounce only three sentences, three petitions

and go no

farther; but in this struggle

able to concentrate

on

the words, so that

seriously, soberly, respectfully,

are conscious of,

you

will

have been

you bring

to

God,

words of prayer which you

and not an offering

because you were not aware of

it.

that

is

not yours,

LIVING PRAYER

60

John Climacus

also advises us to read the prayer

choice without haste, in a

of our

monotonous way, slowly enough

to have time to pay attention to the words, but not so

slowly

make

as to

and

the exercise dull;

to

do

it

without

trying to experience anything emotionally, because

we aim

at

a relationship

is

try to squeeze out

come

to

God;

is

should never

of feeling when

we

a statement, the rest depends

on

of the heart any

a prayer

We

with God.

what

sort

God.

way of

In this

training a given

apart for prayer, and if prayer

what

length of time

this

is.

is

amount of time

attentive,

If you

it

is

set

does not matter

were meant

to read three

pages in your rule of prayer and saw that after half an hour

you were

would

still

reading the

raise a feeling

way is know the time

to have a

best

make

first

twelve words, of course

it

of discouragement; therefore, the definite

fixed and

time and keep to

you have

You

it.

the prayer material to

use of; if you struggle earnestly, quite soon

you

will

discover that your attention becomes docile, because the attention

is

much more subject to

and when one escape,

it

is

the will than

absolutely sure that

we

imagine,

however one

must be twenty minutes and not

tries to

a quarter

of an

hour, one just perseveres. St John Climacus trained dozens

of monks by attention,

this

and

simple device - a time limit, then merciless

that

is all.

The outward beauty of

the liturgy

into forgetting that sobriety in prayer feature in priest 'If

Orthodoxy. In the

gives

you want

some very it

Way

must not seduce is

of a Pilgrim a village

authoritative advice

to be pure, right

us

a very important

on prayer:

and enjoyable, you must

choose some short prayer, consisting of few but forcible

:

MEDITATION AND WORSHIP words, and repeat

you

it

frequently, over a long period.

The same

will find delight in prayer/

found

in the Letters

6l

ofBrother Lawrence:

to use multiplicity of

words

to be

is

do not advise you

'I

in prayer;

idea

Then

many words and

long discourses being often the occasions of wandering/

John of Kronstadt was asked once in spite

of

how it was that priests,

their training, experience

wandering, intrusive

thoughts, even in the course of the liturgy.

'Because of our lack of faith/

We

The answer was

have not

being understood in the terms of St Paul

faith

dence of things not seen' (Heb 11:1). But

as 'the evi-

would be

it

mistake to think that those distracting thoughts

from

own

our

we

outside;

usually

come from

face the fact that they

fill

our

life,

and the only way is

to

to get radically rid

change our outlook on

mentally. Again, as Brother Lawrence puts

'One way

prayer,

come

all

to the fore, they are just the thoughts that

unworthy thoughts

letter:

a

depths: they are our continual inner preoccupa-

coming

tions

must

enough,

faith

to recollect the

and preserve

wander too

it

more

mind

easily in the is

of God; and being accustomed

him

will find

you

it

easy to keep your

the time of prayer, or at least to recall

it

time of

not to

you should keep

in the presence often,

funda-

in his eighth

it

in tranquillity,

far at other times;

life

of

it

let it

strictly

to think

mind calm

from

its

of at

wander-

ings/

As long

we

as

we

care deeply for

all

the trivialities of

life,

cannot hope to pray wholeheartedly; they will always

colour the train of our thoughts.

The same

is

true about

our daily relations with other people, which should not consist in

merely of gossip but be based on what

every one of us, otherwise

we may

is

essential

find ourselves unable

LIVING PRAYER

62

to reach another level

when we

and

eradicate everything meaningless

and

we

be able to take with us into eternity.

shall

start to pray,

we

that

life

sibly spring

up

differentiate their value. It

cultivate the thoughts

at the

which

time of prayer. Prayer in

change and enrich our daily

new and

moment

but by keeping watch on one's thoughts

one learns gradually to

of a

trivial in ourselves

not possible to become another person the

It is

daily

must

our relations with others, and concentrate on those

in

things

we

We

turn to God.

in our

irrepres-

its

turn will

becoming the foundation

life,

real relationship

is

God and

with

those around

us.

In our struggle for prayer the irrelevant

;

what we must bring

emotions are almost

God

to

is

a complete, firm

him and strive that God must remember that the fruits of

determination to be faithful to

should live in

We

us.

prayer are not this or that emotional state, but a deep

change in the whole of our personality. to be

on

made

able to stand before

his presence, all

What we aim

God and

should be

feeling

fulfilled in us

we may

is

the only

It

"Have

prayed well today ?"

Do

deep your emotions were, or

says:

its

need that

I

fruits,

you

are not,

make good

'You ask

yourself,

how

deeper you

"Am I doing God's

you it

it is

not the mystical

how much

did before?" If if

of God

not try to find out

understand things divine; ask yourself: will better than

is

have, or our emotions that

Theophane the Recluse

brought

we

aim of prayer, and

of right prayer.

praying. I

to concentrate

may be fulfilled in us. That the will

also the criterion

is

our needs being directed Godwards,

and to be given power, strength, anything the will of God

at

are,

prayer has

has not, whatever

'

MEDITATION AND WORSHIP

63

amount of understanding or feeling you may have derived from the time spent in the presence of God.' Concentration, whether in meditation or in prayer, can

only be achieved by an

effort

of

Our

will.

spiritual life

is

based on our faith and determination, and any incidental

joys are a

what

it

never

Our

was

that

make any and

saints

of God. St Seraphim of Sarov, when asked

gift

made some people remain

God, answered: 'Only determination.

living in

must be determined by an

activities

usually happens to be contrary to

based on our

will,

and

sinners

progress while others were becoming

faith,

act

of will, which

what we long

for; this

always clashes with another

our instinctive one. There are two wills in

one

us,

will,

the

is

conscious will, possessed to a greater or lesser degree, which

compel ourselves

consists in the ability to

to act in ac-

cordance with our convictions. The second one thing else in us, all

it is

7:23).

He

two laws

We

other should life,

our

life as

be complete It is

know

live,

a

as

that

new Adam

human

being taken

as these

not enough to aim

realise that

two

as a

wills

at the victory

against the evil one; the evil one, that fallen

nature,

must

absolutely,

transformed into a longing, a is

is

(Rom

in us,

one must die in order

we must

and

long

St Paul

first will.

that fight against each other

speaks of the old and the

are at war.

some-

the longings, the claims, the desires of

our nature, quite often contrary to the

speaks of

is

our

who

that the spiritual

whole, will never

do not

coincide.

of the good

will

the longings of our

though

gradually,

be

craving for God. The struggle

hard and far-reaching.

The

spiritual life, the christian life

docs not consist

in

developing a strong will capable of compelling us to do

LIVING PRAYER

64

what we do not want. In

a sense,

of course,

it is

an achieve-

ment to do the right things when we really wish to do the wrong ones, but it remains a small achievement. A mature our conscious will

spiritual life implies that

is

in accordance

with the words of God and has remoulded, transformed our nature so deeply, with the help of God's grace, that the totality

with,

of our

we must

human

person

is

only one

will.

To

begin

submit and curb our will into obedience to

commandments of Christ, taken objectively, applied strictly, even when they clash with what we know about the

life.

We must, in an act of faith, admit against the evidence

that Christ

things

is

right.

Experience teaches us that certain

do not seem to work

as the gospels say

they should;

God says they do, so they must. We must also remember that when we fulfil God's will in this objective sense, we must not do it tentatively, thinking of putting it

but

to the test, to see

what comes of it, because then

work. Experience teaches us that when

we

it

does not

on

are slapped

we want to retaliate; Christ says 'turn the other What we really expect when we finally determine

one cheek, cheek'.

to turn the other cheek his admiration.

is

But when

are usually surprised or

to convert the instead

we

enemy and win

we

are slapped again,

indignant, as

though God has

cheated us into doing something quite unworkable.

We

must outgrow

this

God's will and pay the

cost.

the cost,

we

we must

learn that doing

attitude,

Unless

are prepared to

pay

are wasting our time. Then, as a next step, is

not enough, because

not be drilled into Christianity, christians;

we

be prepared to do

we must

but

learn, in the process

we must

we must

become

of doing the will

of God, to understand God's purpose. Christ has made

his

MEDITATION AND WORSHIP intentions clear to us

and

gospel he no longer

calls

the servant does not

he has told us

us servants but friends, because

know

of God, learn what

will

not in vain that in St John's

it is

mind of

the

things (Jn 15:15).

all

65

doing implies, so that

this

thought, in will, in attitude,

the master, and

We must, by doing the

we may become

in

co-workers

Cor 3:9). Being of one mind we shall gradually become inwardly what we try to be outwardly.

with Christ

We

(i

see that

we

cannot partake deeply of the

life

of

unless we change profoundly. It is therefore essential we should go to God in order that he should transform and change us, and that is why, to begin with we should

God

that

ask for conversion. Conversion in Latin means a turn, a

change in the direction of things. The Greek word metanoia

means

a

change of mind. Conversion means that instead of

spending our

looking in

lives

follow one direction only.

many

things

It is

to

all,

modify our

sense of values:

everything acquires a

All that

is

God's,

all

Everything that

ing.

But

it is

not a

We can

what must follow into

motion and

away from

a great

solely because they first

God

were

impact of conversion being

at the centre

position and a

that belongs to him,

is

new

of

depth.

positive

and

is

outside

change our minds and go no

farther;

an act of will and unless our will comes

is

is

new

should

him has no value or meanchange of mind alone that we can call

real.

conversion.

The

we

directions,

a turning

which we valued

pleasant or expedient for us. is

all

redirected

version; at most there

and inactive change

is

Godwards, there

only an incipient,

in us.

Obviously

it is

is

still

no con-

dormant

not enough to

look in the right direction and never move. Repentance

must not be mistaken E

for remorse,

it

docs not consist in

LIVING PRAYER

66

feeling terribly sorry that things it is

an

made very

It is

go to work

their father to

am

consists in

moving

clear in the parable

The one

at his vineyard.

said,

The other said, 'I am not ashamed and went to work. This was

going', but did not go.

going',

and then

real repentance,

felt

we

and

should never lure ourselves into

imagining that to lament one's past It is

in the past;

who were commanded by

of the two sons (Mt 21:28)

'I

which

active, positive attitude

in the right direction.

went wrong

is

an

act

of repentance.

part of it of course, but repentance remains unreal and

barren as long as

We

father.

has not led us to doing the will of the

it

have a tendency to think that

in fine emotions

we

and

it

should result

are quite often satisfied with

emotions instead of real, deep changes.

When we

have hurt someone and

wrong, quite often person, and tense,

when

when there

we go and

realise that

we were

express our sorrow to the

the conversation has been emotionally

were

a lot

of

tears

and forgiveness and

moving words, we go away with a sense of having done everything possible. We have wept together, we are at peace and all.

now

everything

is all

right. It

who may

be goodhearted and

reacted to our emotional scene.

version

is

not.

No

But

easily

all

right at

God.

wrong,

Nor

moved, has

this is just

one asks us to shed

tears,

touching encounter with the victim, even

what con-

nor to have a

when

the victim

What is expected is we should put it right.

that having understood the

does conversion end there;

the process of it

not

We have simply delighted in our virtues and the other

person,

is

is

never ends.

making It

is

it

must lead us

farther in

us different. Conversion begins but

an increasing process in which

we

MEDITATION AND WORSHIP gradually

67

become more and more what we should

be,

day of judgement, these categories of

fall,

until, after the

conversion and righteousness disappear and are replaced

by new

life.

As Christ

One

A

'I

make

all

can pray everywhere and anywhere, yet there are

where prayer

finds

natural climate; those places

its

are churches, fulfilling the promise; ful in

says:

new' (Rev 21:5).

things

places

new

categories of a

my

house of prayer'

(Is

than in the

He

make them joy-

56:7).

church, once consecrated, once

dwelling-place of God.

will

'I

set part,

present there in another

is

of the world. In the world he

rest

stranger, as a pilgrim, as

who has nowhere to

one

rest his

becomes the

who

is

way

present as a

goes from door to door,

head; he goes

as the lord

of the

world who has been rejected by the world and expelled from his

kingdom and who

In church he

creator

Outside

is

home,

it

he

is

to save his people.

he

is

power and

all

not only the

recognised as such.

when he can and how he

acts all

it

his place;

it is

and the lord by right but he

church he has

come

at

has returned to

might and

can; inside a it is

for us to

to him.

When we

build a church or

set

apart a place of worship

we do something which

reaches far

significance of the fact.

The whole world which God

created has devil has

there

is

become

been

at

work,

no place on

blood, suffering or it,

calling

convey

upon

a place

the

sin.

is

choose

power of God it,

going on constantly;

which has not been

When we

his grace, to bless

the obvious

where men have sinned; the

a fight

this earth

beyond

a

soiled

minute part of

himself, in rites

when we

by

cleanse

it

which

from

the

LIVING PRAYER

68

presence of the evil

we

foothold on earth, this

spirit

and

reconquer for

God

We may say that this

desecrated world.

be God's

set it apart to

a small part is

a place

of

where

kingdom of God reveals itself and manifests itself with power. When we come to church we should be aware that we are entering upon sacred ground, a place which the

belongs to God, and

The

icons seen

should behave accordingly.

on church

paintings: an icon

Chrysostom

we

is

walls are not merely images or

a focus of real presence.

advises us, before

we

start

St

He

our stand in front of an icon and to shut our eyes.

your

'shut

by using It is

it

because

eyes',

it is

as a visual aid, that

we

are helped

by

it

to pray.

not a substantial presence in the sense in which the

not, in this sense, Christ, but there

is

An icon

a mysterious link

By the power of grace an icon participates

between the two. in

says

not by examining the icon,

bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ. is

John

praying, to take

something which can best be defined in the words of

Gregory Palamas

as the energies

power of Christ working

An

icon

is

of Christ,

as the active

for our salvation.

painted as an act of worship.

chosen and blessed, the paint

is

wishes to paint prepares himself

The wood

is

blessed, the

man who

by

confession,

by

fasting,

by communion. He keeps ascetical rules while working and when his work is completed, it is blessed with holy water and chrismated

(this last

part of the blessing

often omitted, unfortunately). Thus,

Holy

Spirit, the

icon becomes

by

the

more than

is

now

power of the

a painting.

It is

loaded with presence, imbued with the grace of the Spirit

and linked with the

particular saint

it

represents in

through the mystery of the communion of

saints

and

and the

MEDITATION AND WORSHIP cosmic unity of all things.

One

the indwelling of the saint

is

to that

of

which we

real

Church.

An icon

cannot say of the icon that

identical

find in the holy

presence as is

it

69

with or even similar

gifts,

and yet

it is

a focus

experienced and taught by the

is

not a likeness,

it is

a sign. Certain icons

have been singled out by the power and wisdom of to be miraculous icons.

you

A a

feel

When you

stand in their presence

challenged by them.

priest

who

Russia

visited

church where there was

icon

God

a

recently

took services

in

well-known wonder-working

of Our Lady and was deeply conscious of her

active participation in the service.

The icon had become

very dark in the course of centuries, and from the place

where he stood he could not continued to celebrate with that the

ing

him

Mother of God

distinguish the features, so he

his eyes shut.

in the icon

was

as

Suddenly he it

felt

were compell-

to pray, directing his prayers, shaping his mind.

He became aware of

a

that filled the church

with prayer and

thoughts.

It

was almost

power

originating

from

the icon

guided the diffuse

a physical presence, there

person standing there, compelling a response.

was

a

V Unanswered Prayer and

woman (Mt

in the episode of the Canaanite 22)

we

prayer;

see Christ, at least at it is

right, she 'if

you

asks for

refusing to answer a

something which

comes with complete

can', she just

faith

is

absolutely

and does not even say

comes, sure that Christ can and that

To

he will be willing, and that her child will be cured. this faith

the answer

worthy, or the

wrong is

sort

'Yes,

I

which

faith

is

'No'.

not

It is

is

not

simply that she

is

the

sufficient,

of person. Christ has come for the Jews, she insists,

saying,

am the wrong kind, but even the dogs eat the crumbs from

fall

their master's

trusting in the love trusting so

of God, in

table.'

spite

humbly despite the reason he

And

she stands,

of what gives.

God

pression in daily

me some

life: I

have no right to a

crumbs. Christ's clear and sharp

and her prayer

So often

we

is

says,

She does not

even invoke the love of God, she just appeals to

faith

all

not that the prayer

he has not come for her. But she

a pagan;

15:

the case of a prayer tested in an extremely hard

woman

way. The

first,

Petition

ex-

its

loaf, just

give

refusal tests

her

fulfilled.

implore God, saying, 'O God,

if

.

.

.

if

UNANSWERED PRAYER AND PETITION Thou wilt

.

.

if

.

Thou

says to Christ:

'Your

my

if

Christ

boy,

disciples

is

God

possibility for

The

possible with faith.

but

we do

faith there

God

we

not believe at the same time, and

doubt, but

I

my own

I

world

as

its

own

do believe

doubts/

one believes

if

that the

it

in

becomes

doubts.

faith

possible for

we know it with God willed it no place

its

modern science, teaches

God

is

dom

to act, that

his

wisdom,

is

for

for

is

one believes is

heart's

us that there

is

in

faith the

kingdom of

a place for the laws

of the king-

God

his ability to

I

to act.

which men believed

in

Whenever by

re-created, there

if

God

God. Yet the

experience, as well as

the nineteenth century.

say:

mechanical laws

is

law

its

to be nothing but a

machine, then there

as the absolute

sbows

When we

law and not in grace,

in

and

believe

God's love more than

mechanical because

no such thing

no

also

should be the proof of

so only to a certain extent;

it is

is

to enter into the situation.

measure by overcoming

But

no

is

one turns to

fact that

belief,

trust

/Just like the father, who have not been able to cure

Then the man says: help thou mine unbelief/ The two 'ifs' are

everything

correlative, because if there

'Yes,

.

' :

believe,

'I

.

you can do anything, do it' (Mk 9:22). answers with another 'if if you believe, however

little

little,

canst

71

to

come

into the situation with

do good within an

evil situation,

without, however, upsetting the whole world.

power of God than and God's reply 'if you can

Our

'if

refers less to the

to his love

and con-

cern;

believe in

my

everything unless,

is

even

possible'

in

means

that

love,

no miracle can happen

an incipient way, the kingdom of

God

IS

present.

A

miracle

is

not the breaking of the laws o( the

fallen

LIVING PRAYER

72 world,

kingdom

the re-establishment of the laws of the

it is

of God; a miracle happens only

if

we

believe that the law

depends not on the power but on the love of God. Al-

though

we know

God

that

he does not

that

God would have

is

almighty, as long as

no miracle

care,

is

to enforce his will,

we

and

that

think

work

possible; to

it

he does not

do, because at the very core of his relationship to the world,

even

his absolute respect for

is

The moment you why I turned to you/ implies:

and is

fallen, there

rights.

willing, that there

and a miracle becomes

in the love

type of

this

We

'if.

according to thy

are

'if ', is

can say:

will, or if

secret evil intention in 'ifs'

situation.'

and

you

own

should be an

will be

you are actually The moment this is

established

it is

which

refers to

our doubt

wrong, there 'I

am

a legitimate

is

asking

this,

me when I ask,'

selves;

if it is

for the best, or if there

is

no

and so on. All these

more than legitimate, because they imply a

attitude to our

that

possible.

of God, and which

category of

believe that

there the right relationship

is

Apart from

*I

believe,

'I

love in you, that

is

concerned about every single grain of faith

say:

human freedom

diffident

and every prayer of petition

'if-prayer'.

As the Church

is

an extension of Christ's presence in

time and space, any christian prayer should be Christ praying although possess.

The

it

implies a purity of heart that

we do not

prayers of the Church are Christ's prayers,

particularly in the

Christ praying

;

canon of the

liturgy,

where

it is

but any other prayer in which

something involving a concrete situation

is

we

entirely

ask for

always under

know what Christ would have prayed for in this situation and so we introduce 'if. In the

majority of cases

we do

not

UNANSWERED PRAYER AND PETITION the

'if

which means

,

know God's

But the

his will.

words

is

we

taking

what we wish means:

'if also

see, as far as

happen

to

am

I

alter this concrete petition to

my

if I

am

unwise in

stating

how

is

sighted about

wrong.

'If '

done

and therefore

I

a

will be done,

should like

we

to be

it

pray for some-

journey

at a certain

some purpose we think essential, our real inthe good of the person, but we are not clear-

time, for

tention

meet

putting into these

your

for example,

one to recover, or to be back from

to

we

anything you choose,

intention, the desire that

done (Rom 8:26). When,

it

can

my desire that the best should happen,

you can even

will, this

that as far as

73

that

my word

it,

and our timing and planning may be

implies that so far as

way, but

but at

my

if I

am

can see what

I

is

right,

mistaken, do not take

intention.

The

Staretz

me

be at

Ambrose of

Optina had the kind of vision which allowed him to

see a

The monastery's icon painter had just sum of money and was about to start his

person's real good.

received a large

journey home. his

way

He must have

prayed that he might be on

immediately; but the Staretz deliberately delayed

him from being murdered and robbed by one of his workmen. When the artist for three days, and in so doing saved

he eventually departed the it

was only years

villain

had

left his

ambush, and

later that the painter discovered

from what

danger the Staretz had protected him.

We

sometimes pray for someone

need and not

whom we are not able to

know what

the right thing

is,

who is in Very often we do

we

help.

we do

love,

not find the words

we know that nothing can be done except to be silent, though we are ready to give our life to help. In that spirit we can turn to to help

even the most beloved. Sometimes

LIVING PRAYER

74

God, put the whole God,

who knowest

take this

situation into his care

everything and whose love

into thine hand,

life

do what

cannot/ Prayer being a commitment, truth for those

all

With

to help.

'Whom

whom we

answer: 'Here

we

am

I,

send me' at the

say:

is

'O

perfect,

long to do, but

cannot pray in

are not ourselves prepared

we must be ready to hear send, and who will go for

dismayed

are

I

Isaiah

shall I

Many

and

(Is

the

Lord say and to

us?'

6:8).

thought of praying for the

wonder what one is aiming at, what one doing so. Can the destiny of the dead be

dead, and they

can hope in

changed

if

one prays for them, will the praying convince

God to do an injustice and

grant

them what they have not

deserved? If

you

them,

why

for as St living'

believe that prayers for the living are a help to

should you not pray for the dead? Life

Luke says 'He is not :

(20:38).

destiny of

Death

man, and

moment of

cannot be in vain;

power

after death

it

not an end but a stage in the

would

of scripture that love the experience of the

is

not petrified

at the

love which our prayer expresses

love had

if

one,

God of the dead but of the

this destiny is

The

death.

is

the

is

power on

earth

and had no

tragically contradict the

as strong as

Church

word

death (Song 8:6), and

that love

is

more powerful

than death, because Christ has defeated death in his love for mankind.

It is

an error to think that man's connection

with life on earth ends with life

one sows

other

seeds.

men and

his death. In the course

of one's

These seeds develop in the souls of

affect their destiny,

and the

fruit that

is

born of these seeds truly belongs not only to those who bear it

but also to those

who

sow. The words written or spoken

UNANSWERED PRAYER AND PETITION that

change

human

a

75

or the destiny of mankind,

life

as the

words of preachers, philosophers, poets or politicians, remain their authors' responsibility, not only for evil but also for good; the authors' destiny is bound to be affected by the way they have influenced those living after them.

The

of every person continues to have repercussions

life

the

until

destiny

is

judgement, and man's eternal and

last

determined not only by the short space of time

he has lived on

by

its

good or

sown

seed

this earth

but also by the

Those

evil consequences.

as in fertile

has transformed their

kingdom which

life,

have received

lives,

God

God

to bless the

given a meaning to

in an act of enduring

and gratitude they enter

faithfulness

of his

ground, can influence the destiny

their existence. In turning to

love,

results

who

of the departed by prayerfully beseeching

man who

final

this

eternal

transcends the limits of time, and they

can influence the destiny and the situation of the departed. It is

not injustice that

merely to forgive a to bless

him

is

man

asked of God; in spite

we do

not ask him

of what he has done but

because of the good he has done, to which

other lives bear witness.

Our prayer is an life is

of gratitude and love,

in so far as

our

the continuation of something that he stood for.

We

and we do not imagine

that

do not ask God

we

act

to be unjust,

more compassionate and more loving than he is, nor do we ask him to be more merciful than he would are

we are bringing new evidence for God's judgement, and we pray that this evidence should be taken into account and that the blessing of God should come abundantly for the one who has meant so much in our life. It is important to realise that we pray not in order to otherwise be;

LIVING PRAYER

76 convince

God of something

but to bear witness that

this

person has not lived in vain, neither loving nor inspiring love.

Any person who

has something to put forward in his defence, but

who

those

way

has been the origin of love in any

it is

for

remain to bear witness to what he has done for

them. Here again

not simply a matter of goodwill or

it is

emotion. St Isaac of Syria says do not reduce your prayer :

to words,

make

Therefore, if

the totality of your

we

v/ish to

must back up the prayer.

God

do something

to

It is

fruit,

life

not enough to wake up to

for them.

to time

It is

because then

we

and then ask

essential that

seed of good, truth and holiness that has been

should bear

God.

a prayer to

pray for our departed, our

them from time

a certain feeling for

life

every

sown by them

can stand before

God

and say he has sown good, there was some quality in him :

which inspired

me

do

to

not mine but his and

is

well,

in a

and

way

this particle

his

of good

is

glory and his redemp-

tion.

The Orthodox Church has very firm views about death and burial. The burial service starts by 'Blessed is our God* we should realise what weight this carries, because ;

these

words

are said in spite of the death, in spite of the

bereavement, in

spite

of the

suffering.

The

service

is

based

a service of praise

and

light,

the

mourners stand holding lighted candles in

their

hands

as a

on Matins, which symbol of the is

that

we

is

resurrection.

The

basic idea

of the service

are indeed faced with death, but death does not

frighten us

any more when

rection of Christ.

we

see

it

through the resur-

UNANSWERED PRAYER AND PETITION At

same time the service gives a

the

of death, the two is

we have

a monstrosity:

the only

is

it.

way

unchangeable and

sense of the ambiguity

Death cannot be accepted,

been created in order to

world which human

yet in the

death

sides to

sin has

it

would be

live,

it

and

made monstrous,

world of

out. If our

eternal,

77

sin

hell;

were fixed

death

is

the

only thing that allows the earth, together with suffering

and

sin,

from

to escape

The Church

this hell.

perceives the

two

Damascus has written about

John of

sides to this; St

with extreme realism,

it

crudely, because a Christian cannot be romantic about death.

Dying

way in which, when we we must remember that it is an instru-

dying in the same

is

speak of the cross,

ment of

Death

death.

is

death with

all its

and monstrosity, and yet death ultimately

On

that gives us hope.

the other hand, if die,

because in

fully.

There

we

the one hand,

long

we

is

tragic ugliness

the only thing

long to

sufficiently to live,

this limited

world

it is

live;

we

long to

impossible to live

decay indeed, but a decay which, in con-

is

junction with the grace of God, leads to a measure of

which otherwise we would never have. 'Death says St Paul (Phil

separated

from

life

open

:2i),

Christ.

coffin,

is

When we

have

burial service

is

we

get

reached a certain

we must

shed

this

life.

strikingly centred

because the person

life

a gain,'

because living in the body

to enter into unlimited

The Orthodox the

i

- independent of time -

measure of life limited

on

is still

round

considered in his

body and soul, both being the concern of the Church. The body has been prepared for the burial; the body is not a piece of outworn clothing, as some seemingly

entirety as

devout people

like to say,

which has been

cast oft for the

LIVING PRAYER

78

A

soul to be free.

body

is

much more

nothing that

Christian; there

is

body does not

take part.

We

than

this for a

befalls the soul in

which the

receive impressions of this

world, but also of the divine world partly through the

body. Every sacrament

a gift

is

by means of physical

soul

of God, conferred on the

actions

;

the waters of baptism,

wine of communion

the oil of chrismation, the bread and are

all

either

taken from the material world.

good

body. The body to be born,

is

not there only,

worker of the soul, the total

first

as

soul in

man.

It

all

day to the

it

is,

it

comes

A

to his blood

its

own

body

life

is

a soul

a soul

when

is

a corpse

is

thus

and not our concern,

It is

human

even eternal

bliss

which end of

and body. cannot be

being without the consent of the

extremely striking to find

one of the great

saint that

bliss

called to enjoy at the

St Isaac the Syrian says,

the importance of the is

is

We

world with which

the glory of God shines through soul

enforced on the

body.

also linked

without a body, even the soul of a

whole human being

As

were

they had

and body, and the body

goes straight to heaven', does not yet enjoy the

time

it

himself.

*

the

as

into contact.

body without

and

Christ

right with the divine

the

together with the

common

through the sacraments to Jesus

it;

has been the co-

remains marked for ever

together. Linked with the soul, the

united in

were, for the soul

last,

things and

the imprint of the soul and the

commune

can never do

mature and then to go, abandoning

body, from the very

by

We

or evil otherwise than in conjunction with our

body

ascetics,

this

in the sayings

comment upon of St

one of those about

Isaac,

who

whom people

might easily say that he spent all his life killing his body. But

;

UNANSWERED PRAYER AND PETITION in the sin,

words of St

were

Paul, the ascetics

to reap out of corruption, eternity

body

killing the

shown

tion

In the

when

an object of care on the part of the

it is

the

same way the body

vulgarity to

Every

which we

member of

grades one

6:6) and not

body of

and

a sinner;

all

the

nothing to the venera-

at the burial service.

it

of prayer.

life

is

we pay to it when alive is

attention

(Rom

body of

for the soul to escape an imprisonment.

Thus the dead body Church, even

killing the

79

is

linked with the soul in the

perversity,

every

excess,

every

ourselves subject our bodies dethis partnership in a

way which

damages the other; to put the matter another way, dignity imposed

in-

from without can be overcome by prayer

self-inflicted indignity destroys prayer.

The

characteristic

of

christian prayer

is

that

it

is

the

prayer of Christ, brought to his father, from generation to generation in constantly renewed situations, by those who,

by grace and world;

it

is

participation, are Christ's presence in this

a continuous, unceasing prayer to

God's will should be done, that

all

God,

should happen accord-

ing to his wise and loving plan. This means that our

of prayer

is

not Christ's.

time

we

at the

We

same time

(Gal 2 20)

is

'I

live,

is

the prayer of one

yet not

is

I,

who

but Christ livcth

in

is

can,

me

real christian prayer.

often try to convince

How

that

not Christ's, which

Yet, instead of praying for the will of

we

all

life

prepare the ground for our prayer each

unworthy of him, and only

:

a struggle against

shed something which

like St Paul, say:

that

him

to

God

do things

can such prayers not be defeated?

to be done, as

we

want.

LIVING PRAYER

80

However

moment sincere,

well

that

we

our best

however

truthful our intentions,

according to our

it is

we must be aware at every idea may be wrong. However

pray,

lights,

moment, and

at a certain

we had

everything

is

why, when we have

God,

we must

(Mt 26:39). In the same

wilt*

use of the intercession of the saints

which

intentions

are good, but let

spirit

we

:

said

add, as Christ

did in the garden of Gethsemane: 'Not as

Thou

perfect

may go wrong

every prayer

this

to say to

however

I

will,

but

as

we may make

bring them our

them frame them

in

accordance with the will of God, which they know.

'Ask and

it

shall

be given' (Mt 7:7). These words are

a thorn in the christian consciousness, they can neither be

To reject them would mean a refusal of God's infinite kindness, but we are not yet christian enough to accept them. We know that the father would not give a stone instead of bread (Mt 7:9), but we do not think of ourselves as children who are unconscious of accepted nor rejected.

their real needs

there It

lies

and what

is

good or bad

for them.

Yet

the explanation of so many unanswered prayers.

can also be found in the words of St John Chrysostom:

'Do not be

you

you do not receive at once what God wants to do you more good through

distressed if

ask for:

your perseverance in prayer/ 'Could not the

own

silence

of God be the tragic aspect of our

deafness?'*

'Again

I

say unto

you

that if

two of you

shall

earth as touching anything that they shall ask,

done for them of

my

Father which

* A. de Chateaubriant, La Rtponse du

is

in

agree on

it

shall

be

heaven' (Mt

Seigneur, p. 170.

UNANSWERED PRAYER AND PETITION 18:19). This quotation

which

is

sometimes used

to beat christians, because often

8l

as a stick

with

enough things

are

asked earnestly by several persons together and yet not

But objections crumble

granted.

that the being together

coalition

and not

anything he

likes

is

unity, is

moment

the

appears

it

wordly one, the agreement is and the belief that God can do a

interpreted in the same

way

that

it

was

by Job's comforters. As for the seeming untruth

Ye

shall ask in prayer,

21:22),

answered by

it is

Gethsemane and partly

And

others had

that 'All things,

whatsoever

believing, ye shall receive'

(Mt

Christ's prayer in the garden

also

by

St Paul

of

(Heb 11:36-40):

of cruel mockings and scourgings,

trial

yea moreover of bonds of imprisonment

They were

:

they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were

sword; they wandered about

slain

stoned,

with the

sheepskins and goatskins;

in

whom the world was not worthy) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise. God having provided some better things for us, that they, being destitute,

without

us,

Surely in

afflicted,

should not be

all

tormented; (of

made

perfect.

those situations there was a great deal of

prayer, not perhaps for deliverance

were ready

to lay

down

sees that

the part of those

God, but

their lives for

and yet they were not given

When God

on

all

who

for help;

they could expect.

you have

faith

enough

to stand his

silence or to accept being delivered to torment,

moral or

physical, for a greater fulfilment of his

kingdom, he may

end the prayer

will be answered,

keep

silent,

and

in the

but in quite a different

way from what you

expected.

LIVING PRAYER

82

St Paul says, speaking

of the prayer of Christ in the

garden of Gethsemane, that

and

5:7),

God

him from

raised

prayer was heard (Heb

his

the dead. St Paul does not

speak here of an immediate answer from God,

who

could

have taken away the cup, which was what Christ was asking; but in fact

God

suffer, to fulfil his

work, and

which made

faith

also this

Many

it is

the absoluteness of his

God

possible for

very absoluteness of Christ's

possible for the

seem

it

gave Christ strength to accept, to

world

to say faith

No. But

it is

which made

it

to be saved.

of our prayers are prayers of petition, and people

to think that petition

is

the lowest level of prayer;

then comes gratitude, then praise. But in fact

it is

and

praise that are expressions

of a lower

On

our level of half-belief

easier to sing

praise or to thank

something with

God

faith.

it is

than to trust

gratitude

relationship.

hymns of

him enough

Even people who

to ask

believe half-

God when something nice comes their way; and there are moments of elation when everyone can sing to God. But it is much more difficult to

heartedly can turn to thank

have such undivided

faith as to ask

with one's whole heart

and whole mind with complete confidence. should look askance

at petition,

prayers of petition

a test

When

the

Christ for the she

is

of the

reality

of our

children

asking, but she

that the

faith.

came

best places in paradise for her

came with complete confidence

what she was

one

because the ability to say

Mother of Zebedee's

two

No

to ask

two

sons,

Lord could do

was thinking of the power of

Christ to grant her request as the Lord's right to act simply

according to his will, which was not in accordance with

UNANSWERED PRAYER AND PETITION the teaching:

mine

own

'My judgement

will,

is

just because

I

83

seek not

but the will of the Father which hath sent

me' (Jn 5:30).

What that the

Mother of Zebedee's children expected was Lord would arbitrarily fulfil her desire as a favour, the

because she was the refusal

first

to put

forward the claim. The

of Christ pointed out that what the mother was

kingdom of God, when the whole kingdom is based on humility. The mother's prayer was conditioned by the Old Testament attitude to the coming of the Messiah. asking was for a situation of pride in the

VI The Jesus Prayer

those who have read The Way of a Pilgrim with the expression 'The Jesus Prayer'.

are familiar

It refers

to a short

prayer the words of which are: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of

God, have mercy on me,

The

a sinner,' constantly repeated.

man who wanted to learn to pray constantly (I Thes 5:17). As the man whose experience is being related is a pilgrim, a great many of his psychological characteristics, and the way in which he

Way

of a Pilgrim

is

the story of a

learned and applied the prayer, were conditioned fact that less

he lived in

a certain

it

could be; and yet

best possible introduction to this prayer,

The prayer gospel,

and

it is

is

the

way, which makes the book

universally applicable than

the greatest treasures of the

by

which

is

it is

the

one of

Orthodox Church.

profoundly rooted in the

spirit

of the

not in vain that the great teachers of Ortho-

doxy have always insisted on the fact that the Jesus Prayer sums up the whole of the gospel. This is why the Jesus Prayer can only be used in uses

it

Christ.

its fullest

belongs to the gospel,

is

a

sense if the person

who

member of the Church of

THE JESUS PRAYER All the messages of the gospel,

and more than the

messages, the reality of the gospel,

name,

in the person

prayer you will see

of Jesus.

how

it

85

contained in the

is

If you take the first half of the

expresses our faith in the Lord:

God/ At the heart we find the name ofJesus; it is the name before whom every knee shall bow (Is 45 12,3), and when we pronounce it we affirm the 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of

historical

event of the incarnation.

Word of God,

We affirm that God, the

co-eternal with the father,

of the godhead dwelt

that the fullness

became man, and

in

our midst (Col

2 9) bodily in his person. :

To

see in the

incarnate

man

Word

guided by the reveals to us

of Galilee,

prophet of Israel, the

in the

God become man, we must be because it is the spirit of God who

of God,

spirit,

both the incarnation and the lordship of Christ.

We call him Christ, and we affirm thereby that in him were prophecies of the Old Testament.

fulfilled the

that Jesus

is

the Christ implies that the

To

affirm

whole history of the

we accept it as the truth of God. We call him son of God, because we know that the Messiah expected by the Jews, the man who was called 'son of Old Testament is

ours, that

David' by Bartimaeus,

words sum up Christ,

all

is

the incarnate son of God. These

we know,

all

from the Old Testament

we

to the

believe about Jesus

New, and from

the

experience of the Church through the ages. In these few-

words we make But

it is

a

complete and perfect profession of

not enough to make

not enough to believe. (Jas 2: 19). Faith

is

not

The

devils also believe

its

of faith;

it is

and tremble

work salvation, it must with God; and so, having

sufficient to

lead to the right relationship professed, in

this profession

faith.

integrity, sharply

and

clearly,

OUT

faith in

LIVING PRAYER

86

the lordship and in the person, in the historicity and in the divinity of Christ,

we

put ourselves face to face with him,

of mind: 'Have mercy on me,

in the right state

These words- 'have mercy* are used in

all

a sinner/

the Christian

Churches and, in Orthodoxy, they are the response of the people to

modern

translation 'have mercy*

cient one.

and

the petitions suggested

all

is

by

is eleison.

and

a limited

The Greek word which we

in the early liturgies

the priest.

we

look up the Old and

New

of the same

is

described in a variety of parables and events

us to

We

form

a complete idea of the

find the

flood

Noah

image of the

from

it.

we

will find

which allow

meaning of the word.

olive tree in Genesis. After the

sends birds, one after the other, to find out

whether there

dove - and

oil

Testament in search of

the passages connected with this basic idea, it

insuffi-

find in the gospel

Eleison

root as elaion, which means olive tree and the If

Our

any dry land or not, and one of them, a significant that it is a dove - brings back a

is

it is

Noah and to all wrath of God has

small twig of olive. This twig conveys to

with him in the ark the news that the

God is now offering man a fresh opportunity. who are in the ark will be able to settle again on

ceased, that

All those

firm ground and

make an attempt

perhaps, if they can help

In the

New

it,

to live,

undergo the wrath of God.

Testament, in the parable of the good

Samaritan, olive

oil is

poured to soothe and to

anointing of kings and priests in the

again

of

oil that is

God

that

and never more

poured on the head

as

heal. In the

Old Testament,

it is

an image of the grace

comes down and flows on them

(Ps 133:2)

them new power to fulfil what is beyond human capabilities. The king is to stand on the threshold, between giving

THE JESUS PRAYER the will of lead his

on

to act for

and to apply God's

decrees

God, and he

is

called to

that threshold, to proclaim the will of

do even more:

to

The

the will of

people to the fulfilment of God's will; the priest

also stands

and

men and

87

oil

speaks

first

of the peace which

we

God, to pronounce God's

decision.

of all of the end of the wrath of God,

God

offers to the

offended against him; further in order that

God

it

people

speaks of

God

who

have

healing us

should be able to live and become what

we are called to be; and as he knows that we are not capable with our own strength of fulfilling either his will or the laws of our own created nature, he pours his grace abundantly on us (Rom 5:20). He gives us power to do what we could not otherwise do. The words

milost

and pomiluy in Slavonic have the same

root as those which express tenderness, endearing, and

when we use the words eleison we are not just asking God to

,

'have

mercy on us', pomiluy,

save us

from His wrath - we

are asking for love. If

we

turn back to the words of the Jesus Prayer, 'Lord

Jesus Christ,

Son of God, have mercy on me,

see that the first

we

a sinner',

words express with exactness and

integrity

the gospel faith in Christ, the historical incarnation of the

Word

of God; and the end of the prayer expresses

complex and

rich relationships

of love that

exist

all

the

between God

his creatures.

The

Jesus Prayer

either as a rule

is

known

of prayer or

to innumerable

in addition to

it,

Orthodox,

as a

form

ot

devotion, a short focal point that can be used at any

moment, whatever the situation. Numerous writers have mentioned

the physical aspects

LIVING PRAYER

88

of the prayer, the breathing is

exercises, the attention

paid to the beating of the heart and a

minor tions

features.

The

Philocalia

is

full

which

number of

other

of detailed instruc-

about the prayer of the heart, even with references to

the Sufi technique. Ancient

with the

subject,

and modern Fathers have

dealt

always coming to the same conclusion:

never to attempt the physical exercises without

strict

guidance by a spiritual father.

What

is

of general

use,

and God given,

the actual

is

praying, the repetition of the words, without any physical

endeavour - not even movements of the tongue - and

which can be used transformation.

systematically to achieve an inner

More

than any other prayer, the Jesus

Prayer aims at bringing us to stand in God's presence with

no other thought but the miracle of our standing

God with is

because in the use of the Jesus Prayer there

nothing and no one except

The is

us,

use of the prayer

is

God and

dual,

allows us to keep our attention

at

it is

every prayer, and on the ascetical

It is

a very

still

us.

an act of worship

level, it

is

a focus that

in the presence of God.

Whether

in spite of

in joy or in sorrow,

its

monotonous

it is,

when

become

habitual, a quickening

any

of God. The words of St Simeon, the

call

as

companionable prayer, a friendly one, always

hand and very individual

repetitions.

there and

logian, apply to

all its

of the

possible effects

it

has

soul, a response to

on

us

:

new

theo-

'Do not worry

about what will come next, you will discover

it

when

it

comes' (Quoted in the Guild of Pastoral Psychology, No. 95, p. 91).

VII Ascetic Prayer

when we are heart

is

Luke

full

says,

of worship, of concern for our

(6:45), there

to

God

when

as St

speak from the fullness of the heart

words

most

that are

life

of prayer

familiar to us.

at the

freely

But

if

we

mercy of our moods,

should probably pray from time to time fervently and

sincerely,

with God.

but lose for long periods any prayerful contact a great

It is

moment when we

temptation to put off praying

feel alive to

God, and

any prayer or any move Godwards sincerity.

We

know from

all

variety of feelings

moment of our times

love

when we

is

lives; illness

there are inner

The same

is

it

hope, that

have

to the fore at every

and yet

them from

we know

that

make

we believe,

love God. At such

a

love deeply, there arc

and outward causes

we do

we

true with regard to

times to be aware of the fact that

the

other periods lacks

or distress can blot

when we

till

to consider that

experience that

are not aware of

alive in us.

at

which do not come

our consciousness. Even

at

others,

no problem about praying; we speak

is

in the

lips

were to leave our

we

frame of mind, when the

in the right

that

God;

it

difficult

that

WC have

moments we must

act

LIVING PRAYER

90

we

not on the strength of what

We must have faith in what perceive

it

that love

in us, although

is

moment.

at that particular

is still

although

there,

but of what

feel

it

we know. we do not

We must remember

does not

fill

our hearts

with joy or inspiration.

And we must

remembering

always loving, always present, in

of the

spite

that he

fact that

is

we do

not

feel

stand before God,

it.

When we are cold and dry, when it seems that our prayer is

Would it

do?

alive again?

how

is

we know

shall

prayer

is

comes

that the time has

dry, instead of giving

wider act of faith and carry on.

God

'I

am worn out,

I

still

from

so far

way we

should

We should say to cannot pray really, accept, O Lord,

a

this

until prayer

when we are

make :

what should we

grave danger of being seduced by the

a

desire for perfection in prayer

When

routine,

be better to stop praying

But

come? There

it.

by

a false pretence, carried out

monotonous voice and

the

words of prayer, and help

me/ Make prayer a matter of quantity when unable to make it a matter of quality. Of course, it is better to utter only 'Our Father', with

all

the depth of understanding of

the words, than to repeat the Lord's Prayer twelve times;

but

it is

just

what we

are sometimes incapable of. Prayer

being quantitative does not

words than

usual;

it

mean

the utterance of

means keeping

more

to the usual rule of

prayer fixed for oneself and accepting the fact that

it is

nothing but a certain quantity of repeated words. As the Fathers say, the

Holy

Spirit

is

prayer and according to St Paul: Jesus is

the

is

the Lord, but

Holy

and patient

Spirit as

it

by

who

the

when there is man 'No can say that

always there

Holy Ghost*

will in

due time

fill

(I

Cor

12:3).

It

prayer, faithful

has been, with the meaning and depth of

ASCETIC PRAYER

new

When we

91

God in these moments of we must use our will, we must pray from convicif not from feeling, out of the faith we are aware of life.

stand before

dejection tion

possessing, intellectually if not

with

a

burning heart.

At such moments the prayers sound quite different to us, but not to God; as Julian of Norwich says, 'Pray inwardly though thou thinkest though thou

feel not,

it

savour thee not, for

though thou

see

it is

profitable,

nought, yea though

thou think thou canst not. For in dryness and in barrenness,

and

in sickness

though thou thinkest

to me, little

in feebleness, then

and so

is all

it

is

thy prayer well pleasant

savour thee nought but

thy believing prayer in

my

sight'

(The

Cloud of Unknowing).

when

In those periods of dryness,

our main support

effort, it is

by an

act

is

faithfulness

and determination;

of will, including them both, that

without considering our

ourselves,

prayer becomes an

we compel

feelings, to take

our

God and speak to him, simply because God is God and we are his creatures. Whatever we feel at a given moment our position remains the same; God remains stand before

our creator, our saviour, our lord and the one towards

whom we

move, who

who

only one

Sometimes and

is

the object of our longing and the

can give us fulfilment.

we

think that

we even have no

that

we

are

unworthy of praying

right to pray; again, this

temptation. Every drop of water, from wherever

pool or ocean,

and so jected is

is

we

surely

is

it

is

a

comes,

purified in the process of evaporation;

every prayer ascending to God. The more defeel,

the greater the necessity for prayer, and that

what John of Kronstadt

praying, watched

by

a devil

felt

one day when he was

who was

muttering, 'You

LIVING PRAYER

92

how

hypocrite,

of the thoughts

dare

my mind

is

you pray with your

read in

I

it.'

He

of thoughts

full

answered,

full

just because

am

I

God/

praying to

Whether

it is

the Jesus Prayer that

is

being used or any

other readymade prayer, people often say: I

'It is

mind,

and fight that

dislike

I

filthy

what

How can I say those words as my

to use it?

right have

own? When

we make use of prayers which have been written by saints, by men of prayer, and are the result of their experience, we can be sure that if we are attentive enough, the words will become our own, we shall grow into their underlying feeling and they will remould us by the grace of God, who responds to our

way,

in a

easier all

is

the Jesus Prayer the situation,

simpler, because the

can say

More

With

worse our position

is

the

is,

to realise that, having taken our stand before

it is

we

effort.

God,

Kyrie Eleison, 'Have mercy'.

often than

we may

admit to ourselves,

we

pray

hoping for a mysterious illumination, hoping that something will happen to us, that a thrilling experience will

come our way. It make sometimes

may

in

fact

approach

a

is

a mistake, the

and when there

we

is

no response whatever or

expected,

that the

into his presence,

not

mean

is

that the

we

is

when

it is

we

dis-

are disappointed, or

Lord God,

also free

else

When we

pray,

we

who lets us come freely

with regard to us which does

freedom he

;

takes

is

an arbitrary one,

ours, to be gracious or rude according to our

that he

We

we expect a definite sort of response,

miss the reality of the given answer.

must remember

we

which

destroy the relationship completely.

person and

not the one

same kind of mistake

in our relationships with people

as

mood, but

not bound to reveal himself to us simply because

ASCETIC PRAYER

we

have come and are gazing in

his direction. It

important to remember that both

come

either to

or to go

importance because

it is

and

;

which God seemed suddenly

lost

this

freedom

immensely

is

him

was

she

are free

of immense

real relationship.

of prayerful

and

familiar

afraid

of trying to escape that absence of

life

in

close,

of the temptation

God by

building up a

presence of him; because the real absence of

his real

very

touch with him completely. But more than

the sorrow of losing

false

of a

after a period

to be

is

God and we

characteristic

Once, a young woman,

93

God and

presence are equally good proofs of his reality

and of the concreteness of the

relationship

which prayer

implies.

we must be prepared to offer our prayer and be ready whatever God may give. This is the basic principle of

So for

the ascetic

In the struggle to keep ourselves directed

life.

Godwards and to that prevents us

fight against anything in us that

from looking

in the direction of

can be neither altogether active nor passive.

we

we

We cannot be

cannot climb into heaven or bring

God down

doing nothing, because

acted

God,

by making

by

from heaven. But we cannot just be there

opaque,

agitating ourselves,

active in the sense that, efforts,

is

God

passive either

does not treat us

and

sit

as objects;

would be no true relationship if we were merely upon by him. The ascetic attitude is one of vigilance,

the vigilance of a soldier

he can and

as

anything that

pen. In a

completely is

stands in the night as

alert

and aware

as

to respond

and with speed to anything that is

still

as possible of

happening around him, ready

way way he

in the right

who

may

hap-

inactive because he stands and does

nothing; on the other hand,

it

is

intense activity, because

LIVING PRAYER

94 he

is

alert

and completely recollected. He listens, he watches

with heightened perception, ready for anything. In the inner

life it is

God's presence in complete

and

unstirring.

We

periods of time, but

silence

ing.

But

we

are alert

for one particular thing.

for

vigilant,

we

are

on

the

our way, and not

We must be ready to receive from

experience

some time and have

easily into the

collectedness, alert

something will be happen-

and

may come

lookout for anything that

God whatever

and

may wait for hours, or for longer a moment will come when our alert-

ness will be rewarded, because

again, if

We must stand in

exactly the same.

sent.

is

When we

felt a certain

have prayed

warmth, we

fall

quite

God the next day If we have in the past

temptation of coming to

expecting the same thing to happen.

prayed with warmth or with

tears,

with contrition or joy,

we come to God looking forward to an experience we have already had, and quite often, because we are looking for the old one, we miss the new contact with God. God's coming close to us may find expression in a variety of ways; it may be joy, it may be dread, it may be contrition or anything else. We must remember that what we are going to perceive today

because

God

as

is

we knew him

something yesterday

might reveal himself tomorrow.

unknown to us, is not God as he

VIII

The Prayer of Silence

prayer

primarily an encounter with God; on we may be aware of God's presence, more often dimly so, but there are times when we can place ourselves before him only by an act of faith, without being is

certain occasions

aware of his presence ness that

is

at

all. It is

relevant, that

not the degree of our aware-

makes

fruitful; other conditions

this

must be

encounter possible and fulfilled,

being that the person praying should be

we have

a variety

person appears

as

of facets to our

one in one

real.

among

friends.

Every

false personalities

at

self

setting

and quite

life

The same

different in

which he com-

home, and again is

In social

personalities.

another, authoritative in any situation in

mands, quite submissive

the basic one

quite different

complex, but none of these

or of those which are partly

false

and

partly true, are our real selves to such an extent as to be

able to stand in our

name

weakens our prayer,

it

and

says in Hamlet: 'To thine

will.

true,

and

As Polonius it

not then be

creates dividedness

must follow false to

God. This

in the presence of

as the

any man.'

of mind, heart

night the day,

own

self

Thou

be

canst

LIVING PRAYER

96

To

find the real

self,

among and beyond

cannot be done

false persons,

an easy

at

those various

We

cost.

are so

unaccustomed to be ourselves in any deep and true sense

we

that

find

the search.

we

it

almost impossible to

We

all

know

know where

that there are

to begin

moments when moments

are nearer to being our true selves; those

should be singled out and carefully analysed in order to

make an approximate is

discovery of what

our vanity that usually makes

the truth about ourselves

way

it

it

really are. It

so difficult to discover

our vanity in

;

we

itself

and in the

determines our behaviour. Vanity consists of glory-

ing in things that are devoid of value and of depending for

our judgement about ourselves, and consequently for our

whole

attitude to

not have

this

life,

on

the opinion of people

weight for us

;

a state

it is

who should

of dependence on

other people's reactions to our personality.

Thus vanity

is

the

as the Fathers say, it

enemy

first

to be attacked, although,

remains the

last

to be defeated.

We

find an instance of the defeat of vanity in the story of

Zacchaeus (Lk 19:1), which can teach us a great Zacchaeus was a rich

man

with

social standing,

deal.

he was an

Roman Empire, a publican who had a position to maintain. He was an important citizen of his little city; the attitude which is summed up in 'what will people

official

say?'

of the

might have stopped him from meeting

Christ.

When

Zacchaeus heard that Christ was passing through Jericho, his desire to see

him was

so strong that he forgot that he

might become ridiculous - which is for us much worse than a great many evils - and he ran, this respectable citizen,

and he climbed up

crowd and it is

a tree!

difficult to

He

could be seen by the whole

doubt that a great

many laughed.

THE PRAYER OF SILENCE But such was

worry about

his desire to

meet Jesus

97

that he forgot to

the opinions of other people; he

short time independent of anyone's

moment he was

became

judgement and

for a

at that

completely himself; he was Zacchaeus the

man, not Zacchaeus the publican, or the

rich

man, or the

citizen.

Humiliation

is

one of the ways in which

vanity, but unless

it is

we may

unlearn

accepted willingly, humiliation

may

only increase our hurt feelings and make us even more

dependent on the opinions of others. Statements concerning vanity in St John Climacus and in St Isaac of Syria seem to

one says that the only way to escape vanity

conflict:

through pride; the other, that the way

They both

humility.

through

lies

express their opinions in a given

context and not as an absolute truth, but

it

allows us to see

two extremes have in common, which whether you grow proud or humble, you take no what

the

is

that

notice

of human opinions, in both cases the judgement of men set aside.

of the

In the

life

is

of St Macarius

we

have an

is

illustration

first.

monastery over which he

St Macarius, approaching a

had oversight, saw

several

at a

of them

at all,

and he was amazed

young man. Macarius had of the

suspicious.

who was

very young monk,

mocking

culties

of the brethren laughing and

He

spiritual

asked the

taking no notice

at the serenity

of the

great experience of the

struggle

and thought

monk how

it

was

that,

it

diffi-

slightly

young

as

he was, he had attained such a measure of impassibility.

The answer was: 'Why should dogs?

whom

I I

pay no attention

I

take any notice of barking

to them,

accept as a judge.' This

is

God

is

the only one

an example of how pride

LIVING PRAYER

98

can free us from dependence upon the opinions of other people. Pride

is

an attitude in which

we become

the centre of things,

of good and

reality,

set ourselves at

the criterion of truth, of

and then

evil,

we

we

from

are free

other judgement and also free from vanity. But perfect pride that can dispel vanity completely,

pride

fortunately

is

The

other

beyond our human

remedy

attitude

of one

of God.

It is

who

is

is

the

is

stands constantly under the judgement

the attitude of one

to be trodden upon. it

and perfect

capabilities.

who is like the soil. fertile

It is silent,

Humility

ground. The

there, unnoticed, taken for granted,

is

only

it is

humility. Basically humility

comes from the latin word humus,

ground

any-

fertile

always there

inconspicuous, dark and yet

always ready to receive any seed, ready to give

substance and

because refuse

abase

it

becomes

of the it,

The more lowly,

life.

earth. It

humiliate

when

really fertile

it;

low

more

the it

accepts

the

all

that nothing can soil

is

so

it

has accepted the

last

it

fruitful,

it,

place and

cannot go any lower. In that position nothing can shatter the soul's serenity,

peace and joy.

its

There are moments when

we

are shaken out

of our

dependence on people's reactions; these are moments of

profound sorrow and

also

of real overwhelming joy.

King David danced before the ark like Michal, the

was behaving

(II

Sam

6:14),

When many,

daughter of Saul, thought that the king

in a very

unseemly way. They probably

smiled or turned away, embarrassed. But he was too

of joy to

notice. It

is

same with sorrow; when

the

genuine and deep a person becomes attitudes are forgotten

in our

own

as

much

and

as in

that

is

someone

real;

full it is

poses and

so precious in sorrow, else's.

THE PRAYER OF SILENCE The

difficulty

is

99

that

when we

are real because

we

are in joy,

we

sorrow, or because

we

are in

are neither in a

mood

nor in a position to watch ourselves, to observe the features of our personality that come through; and yet there is a

moment when we

are

still

feeling deeply

enough

to be

but sufficiently recovered from the ecstasy of joy or

real,

of grief

as to

be struck by the contrast between what

moment and what we

are at this particular

we

are usually;

then our depth and our shallowness appear to us clearly. If

we

one

are attentive, if

state

we do

not

move

thoughtlessly

from

of mind and heart into the other, forgetting

things as they pass by,

we

can gradually learn to preserve

those characteristic features of reality

which appear

for a

moment. Several spiritual writers say that

Christ in us. Christ

we

is

can begin to discover what

what

is

is

true. in us

man

and

by discovering

and other passages which make

rebel

our heart burn within us (Lk 24:32).

provoke

passages

which

with

our heart to be

all

try to discover

akin to him. There are passages in the gospel

which we

against

we must

the perfect, completely true

either

true,

If

we

a revolt, or

we

single out the

which we

feel

will already have dis-

covered the two extremes in us; in short, the anti-Christ

and the Christ passages

We

must be aware of both kinds of

and concentrate on those which are

heart, because

point at

in us.

we may

least in

safely

close to our

assume that they mark one

which Christ and we

are akin, a point at

man is already - certainly not fully, but at least in an incipient way - a real man, an image of Christ. But it is which

a

not enough to be emotionally moved, to give complete intellectual

agreement to

this

or that passage of the gospel;

LIVING PRAYER

100

we must embody

words of Christ.

the

touched and yet abandon the

first

all

occasion that offers

There are times when with our enemies, but

making mood happened

to

we

have thought and

itself for

we

if the

felt

on

applying the discovery.

are in a

mood

other person

soon changed into

is

We may have been

to

make peace the peace-

resists,

a bellicose one.

That

Miusov, in Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Kara-

He had just been rude and intolerant to others and regained his own self-esteem by making a new start,

mazov. then

but Karamazov's unexpected insolence his feelings again

the

at

once changed

and 'Miusov passed immediately from

most benevolent frame of mind to the most savage. All

the feelings that

had subsided and died down

in his heart

revived instantly.' It is

not enough to be struck by the passages which appear

to be so true, the struggle to

our

life

then

what we

we

every

moment of

moments must

follow, and

become

are at the best

at

will gradually shed the superficial

and more

more

real

itself,

so shall

true; just as Christ

is

and become

truth

and

we become more and more what

reality

Christ

is.

This does not consist in imitating Christ in his outer expression only, but of being inwardly imitation of Christ life; it is

a hard

is

what he

is.

The

not an aping of his conduct or of his

and complex

struggle.

Old and the New Old Testament were

This marks a difference between the

Testament: the commandments of the rules

of

life

and he

who

faithfully kept to these rules

became a righteous man, and yet he could not derive eternal

life

from them.

ments of the

On

the contrary, the

command-

New Testament never make a man righteous.

Christ once said to his disciples:

'When ye

shall

have done

THE PRAYER OF SILENCE all

which

those things

are

we

unprofitable servants;

duty to do* (Lk 17:

10).

commanded

God

you, say,

We

are

have done that which was our

But when we

ments of Christ, not merely cause the will of

101

as rules

fulfil

the

command-

of behaviour, but be-

has impregnated our heart, or even

when we simply curb our

them out-

ill-will into fulfilling

wardly and stand in repentance, knowing

that there

nothing in us beyond

we

grow

this

outer compliance,

knowledge of God, which

into the

intellectual, rational or

is

is

gradually

inward, not

academic.

A person who has become real and true can stand before God and

offer prayer

intellect, heart

to the

and

will, in a

promptings of the

such perfection

aware that

we

him

that

to

with absolute attention, unity of

all

we

can

body

soul.

still

But

until

we

have attained

stand in the presence of God,

are partly real

we

that responds completely

and partly

unreal,

and bring

can, but in repentance, confessing that

we are still so unreal and so incapable of unity. At no moment of our life, whether we are still completely divided or in process of unification, are we deprived of the possibility

of standing before God. But instead of standing

the complete unity that gives drive

prayer,

we

and power

can stand in our weakness, recognising

ready to bear

its

in

to our it

and

consequences.

Ambrose of Optina, one of the last Russian Starctz, said once that two categories of men will attain salvation: those who sin and are strong enough to repent, and those who are too

weak even

patiently,

to

humbly and

repent truly, but arc prepared, gratefully, to bear

of the consequences of their acceptable to God.

sins; in their

all

the weight

humility they arc

LIVING PRAYER

102

God is

always

face to face

we

he

as

is

if

we could stand

and perceive

his objective

we manage,

in a sub-

this truth, this reality in front

of which

might be simpler; but

way, to blur

stand,

always himself, and

with him

reality, things

jective

real,

and to replace the

him, even worse, by a

real

God by

God who

is

a pale picture

of

unreal because of our

one-sided and poor conception of him.

When we have to meet someone, the reality of the meeting does not depend only on what other

is,

but very

much on

and

It is

are then speaking, but to the it

are

not to the

image

usually takes a great deal of effort

victim of

this

and on what the

the preconceived idea

formed about the other person.

we

we

we on

we

real

have

person

have formed

the part of the

prejudice to break through and establish a

real relationship.

We

have

beautiful,

all

formed

even true in

ideas about

its

component

God; however parts the idea

lofty,

may be,

we are not careful, stand between us and the real God and may become simply an idol before which we pray while the real God is hidden by it. This happens particularly when we turn to God with requests or for intercession; then we do not come to God as to a person with whom we want to share a difficulty, in whose love we believe and from whom we expect a decision; but we come trying to consider God under a certain aspect, and we direct our prayers not towards God but towards a concept of God, which at that particular moment is useful

it

will, if

to us.

We

must not come to

God

in order to

go through

a

range of emotions, nor to have any mystical experience.

We must just come to

God

in order to be in his presence,

THE PRAYER OF SILENCE and, if he chooses to

but

God

blessed be

come

near

we do

us

aware of it, blessed be God,

not

As for him, because

his real absence,

we have seen he is free to or not. He is as free as we are, although, when come into God's presence, it is because we are again, because as

busy with something if

else that attracts us

he does not manifest

we must

more than he

does.

his presence,

it

is

him and about

learn something about

But the absence of God which we may perceive

ourselves. in

make

he chooses to make us experience

if

103

our prayer, the sense that he

the relationship

is

not there,

also part

is

of

and very valuable.

Our sense of God's absence may be the result of his will; he may want us to long for him and to learn how precious his presence is by making us know by experience what utter loneliness means.

absence

But often our experience of God's

determined by the

is

ourselves a chance of

woman who

had been using the Jesus Prayer

there.

was talking

she

silently for a

aware that

we do

becoming aware of his

years complained that she

God was

fact that

it

days.

God was

was

for fourteen

sense that

pointed out to her that

As she was doing

it

there, that the silence that

her was not emptiness, absence of noise and that there

A

the time, she agreed to take her stand

all

few

presence.

had never had any

But when she had

not give

a solidity in this silence, that

it

she

became

surrounded

agitation, but

was not some-

thing negative, but positive, a presence, the presence of

of

God who made

same

silence in her.

came up sort

himself

And

known

to her

it

was no longer

of discursive noise that had prevented

known.

creating the

then she discovered that the prayer

quite naturally again, but

ing himself

by

the

God from mak-

LIVING PRAYER

104

we were humble or even reasonable we should not expect, just because we had decided to pray, that we should If

at

once have the experience of St John of the Cross, or

St Theresa or St

Seraphim of Sarov. However,

always the experience of the

it is

which we long

saints

not

to have,

but simply to repeat a former one of our own; although to concentrate

on

a previous experience

one which should come our

we have felt belongs what we were yesterday, ever

way

may

blind us to the

What-

quite normally.

to the past

and

not with what

linked with

is

we

are today.

We do not pray in order to provoke any particular experiwe may delight, but in order to meet God with whatever may happen as a consequence, or to bring him what we have to bring and leave it to him to use it the way he chooses. We must also remember that we should always approach God knowing that we do not know him. We must approach the unsearchable, mysterious God who reveals himself as he chooses whenever we come to him, we are before a God we do not yet know. We must be open to ence in which

;

any manifestation of his person and of his presence.

We may have understood a our

own

experience,

from the experience of

the writings of the saints,

from is

he

is

;

humble, that he

our judge, that he

God from from

others,

from the teaching of the Church,

the witness of the scriptures

good, that he is

great deal about

is

we may know is

a burning

that he

fire,

our saviour and a great

that

many

we must remember that he may at any himself in a way in which we have never

other things, but

time reveal

perceived him, even within these general categories.

We

must take our stand before him with reverence and be

THE PRAYER OF SILENCE

105

we shall meet, either the God who is already familiar or a God we cannot recognise. He may give us a sense of what he is and it may be quite different from what we expect. We hope to meet Jesus, mild, compassionate, loving, and we meet God who judges and ready to meet whoever

condemns and

will not let us

come

near in our present

Or we come in repentance, expecting to be rejected, and we meet compassion. God, at every stage, is for us partly known and partly unknown. He reveals himself, and thus far we know him, but we shall never know him state.

completely, there will always be the divine mystery, a core

of mystery which

we

shall

never be able to penetrate.

The knowledge of God can only be received and given in communion with God, only by sharing with God what he is, to the extent to which he is communicable. The Buddhist world of thought has

illustrated

it

in a story

about a doll of salt.

A doll

of salt,

after a

long pilgrimage on dry land, came

and discovered something she had never seen and could not possibly understand. She stood on the firm ground, a solid little doll of salt, and saw there was another to the sea

ground

that

was mobile,

known. She asked said,

to

'I

am

the sea/

insecure, noisy, strange

the sea, 'But

And

the doll said,

which the answer was,

cannot understand, but answered, 'Touch

me/

what

I

'It is

want

it

was something

withdrew her and she was

leg,

'What

how

is

that

and

the doll said,

can

I?'

a strange

it

the sea?'

The

So the doll shyly put forward

and touched the water and she got that

are you?'

me/ Then to;

and un-

'I

sea

a foot

impression

began to be knowablc. She

looked and saw that her toes had gone,

afraid

and

said,

'Oh, but where

is

my

toe,

LIVING PRAYER

106

what have you done

And

to me?'

the sea said,

'You have

given something in order to understand/ Gradually the

water took away small

went

farther

and

of the

bits

and the

doll's salt

and

farther into the sea

at

every

doll

moment

more and more, and yet of not being able to say what the sea was. As she went deeper, she melted more and more, repeating: 'But what is the sea?' At last a wave dissolved the rest of her and the

she had a sense of understanding

doll said:

She had discovered what the

'It is I!'

sea was,

but

not yet what the water was.

Without drawing an absolute dhist doll

much

and

little

between the bud-

knowledge of God, one can

christian

truth in this

parallel

story. St

Maxim

uses the

of a sword that becomes red hot: the sword does not

where the sword

fire

ends and the

begins, so that

burn with

iron.

The

had become, minute So

also

when we

one can,

doll

does not

fire

as

he

the

with

and

the sea

fire

was when she

was, the vastness of the

as she

enter into the

sea.

knowledge of God, we do

we

not contain God, but are contained in him, and

come

know

know where

says, cut

knew what

see

example

ourselves in this encounter with

God, secure

be-

in his

vastness.

Saint Athanasius said that man's ascent to deification

begins

from the moment he

is

From

created.

the

gives us uncreated grace to achieve union with him.

the

Orthodox point of view

whom

grace

called us out

is

super-added.

there

The

of nothingness was our

God

we

in us.

should be in

him as he

is

must be prepared to find

no

first

fulfilment of our calling, that

We

is

God From

first,

'natural

man* to

word of God

first

step

should be in

that

towards the all

and

that the last step

that

of our

THE PRAYER OF SILENCE relationship with

God

an act of pure adoration, face to

is

with a mystery into which

face

IO7

we

We grow

cannot enter.

knowledge of God gradually from year to year the end of our life and we will continue to do so

into the until

through

eternity,

all

without coming to a point

be able to say that

shall

now we know

all

that

is

when we knowable

of God. This process of the gradual discovery of God leads us at every

moment

to stand with our past experience

God knowable and still we know of God makes it

behind us and the mystery of

unknown

before us.

The

more, because the more cannot

difficult for us to learn

simply be added to the

little

little,

since every

meeting brings

known before becomes almost untrue in the light of what is known later. This is true of any knowledge which we acquire every

such a change of perspective that what was

;

day teaches us something the learning

we

have acquired makes sense only because

brings us to the borderline

we

can

still

know, we want the

to

discover. If

shall

beyond which there

we

meet the

real

God

is

in prayer,

is

first

go no

farther

cease to be real

it

is

what we

thing, if

to realise that

knowledge previously acquired has brought

precious and meaningful, but

will be a

we all

us to stand

becomes ghostly, phantom-like,

life; it

it

something

stop just to rehearse

waste our time. So the

before him. All this

live

in science or the humanities, but

memory and one

if

it

we

will

cannot

on memories.

In our relations with people facet

of our personality to one

we

turn inevitably just one

facet

of the other person's;

may be good when it is a way of establishing contact, it may be evil when we do so to exploit the other person weaknesses. To God also we turn the facet which is closest

it

s

LIVING PRAYER

108

to him, the trusting or loving side.

of the

God

fact that

But we must be aware

never a facet of God

it is

we meet: we meet

in his entirety.

When we come someone who

is

we hope

to pray

as

present and that our prayer will be, if not

someone who

a dialogue, at least a discourse to

are afraid that

God

to experience

listens.

We

we may sense no presence at all and have

the

impression of speaking in the void, with no one there to listen,

But

to answer, to be interested.

this

would be

a

we compare our experience of prayer with our normal daily human contacts, we know that someone may be listening very intently to what we say and yet we may feel that our words are being poured out in vain. Our prayer always reaches God but it is not

purely subjective impression;

if

always answered by a sense of joy or peace.

When we

speak in terms of taking a stand,

think that here search for

we

are

and

God, above, or

there

we

God, outside

is

in front, or

around

always

us. If

we

us,

we

will

not find him. St John Chrysostom said: 'Find the door of the inner this

is

chamber of your

the door into the

soul

and you

will discover that

kingdom of Heaven/

St

Ephraim

of Syria says that God, when he created man, put in the deepest part of him

of

human

hidden

life is

all

the

kingdom, and

to dig deep

enough

treasure. Therefore, to find

to

God and we go through

is

come upon

God we must

search of this inner chamber, of this place

kingdom of God

problem

that the

the

dig in

where the whole

present at the very core of us,

where

can meet. The best tool, the one which will

all

obstacles,

is

prayer.

The problem

is

one of

praying attentively, simply and truthfully without replacing the real

God by any false God, by an idol, by a

product

THE PRAYER OF SILENCE

109

of our imagination and without trying to have

a

preview

of any mystical experience. Concentrating on what

we

word we pronounce reaches God, own words or the words of greater men to than we could, what we feel or what we

say, believing that every

we

can use our

express, better

dimly within

sense that

we

we

is

not in a multitude of words

God but in their veracity. When own words we must speak to God with pre-

shall

use our

us. It

be heard by

cision, neither trying to

be short nor trying to be long, but

trying to be true.

There are moments when prayers are spontaneous and easy, others is

when

it

feels as if the

spring has dried up. This

the time to use the prayers of other

what we

basically

believe,

men which

express

which

are not

those things

all

made vivid by any deep response of the heart. Then we must pray in a double act of faith, not only faith

at present

in

God

but also in ourselves, trusting in the faith which

dimmed,

in spite

of its being part of

There are times when prayer, neither our

we do

us.

not need any words of

own nor anyone else's and then we pray

in perfect silence. This perfect silence

provided, however, that the silence

dreaming.

the soul,

there

have very

is

is

the ideal prayer,

and not day-

real

experience of what deep

little

of body and soul means, when complete serenity

silence fills

We

is

is

when complete

no turmoil or

stirring

peace

fills

of any

when when we and

the body,

sort

stand before God, completely open in an act of adoration.

There

may be

times

tally relaxed, tired

of them already;

when we

feel physically

of words because

we do

not want to

in this fragile balance; this

is

on

well and

we have stir

used so

men-

many

and we fed happy

the borderline of slipping

LIVING PRAYER

110

into daydreaming. Inner silence

inward

stirring

when we

can, but never allow

To

prevent

us never to

it

abandon completely the normal

who

it

reached

until prayer

The Greek hesychia,

life

as the starting-point

of prayer. Silence

powers of the soul and completely

find in

and

from any turmoil or

yet free

which they

many

and the

which

agitation.

when

that

is

as there are ripples

the surface

on

reflected, the trees

is

the

quite

the

body

are

A simile which we of the waters

on

nothing can be reflected properly, neither the sky;

all

recollected, perfectly alert

writings of the Fathers

pond. As long

called

final achieve-

the state in

the faculties of the

all

at peace, quiet

is

words

silence.

Fathers set this silence,

both

ment of a

had renewed

this

whenever they

necessary,

in danger of spiritual slackness, to reintroduce

of prayer

a

of Ortho-

this the great writers

contemplative silence found

of

complete

to degenerate into simple

forms of prayer, because even those

were

it is

We must keep complete silence

openness to God.

doxy warn

absence of any sort of

of thought or emotion, but

alertness,

contentment.

is

still,

the sky

the surface, trees

perfectly

is

bank and everything

nor the

is

there as

distinct as in reality.

Another as

long

not

human

it.

of the same

mud which

as the

settled, the

through

see

simile

water

is

is

sort used at the

by

the Fathers

is

that

bottom of a pond has

not clear and one can see nothing

These two analogies apply to the

state

of the

heart. 'Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall

God* (Mt

water there

is

5:8).

no

as the surface

is

As long

as the

clear vision

mud

through

is

it,

in

motion

and again

in the

as

long

covered with ripples there can be no

adequate reflection of what surrounds the pond.

THB PRAYER OF SILENCE As long

as the soul

is

not

still

III

there can be

no

vision, but

when stillness has brought us into the presence of God, then another sort of silence, much more absolute, intervenes: the silence of a soul that

but which

is

overawed

is

not only

in an act of

still

worship by God's

presence; a silence in which, as Julian of

'Prayer oneth the soul to God.'

and recollected

Norwich

puts

it,

EPILOGUE* Prayer for Beginners

wearEall a course

of

beginners and

lectures,

of the things

I

but

I

do not intend

I

you

to give

wish to share with you some

have learned, partly by experience, and

probably more through the experiences of others. Prayer soul

is

essentially

an encounter, a meeting between

and God, but to be

real

a

an encounter takes two

persons each being really himself.

To

a

very great extent

we are unreal and God so often in our relationship is unreal to us because we believe that we turn to God, when we are in fact turning to something we imagine to be God; and we think that we are standing before him in all truth, whereas we are putting forward someone who is not our real self, who is an actor, a sham, a stage personality. Every one of us it

may

is

a variety

of persons

at the

be a very rich blending, but also

it

same time;

may

unfortunate meeting of discordant personalities. different according to circumstances

various people that meet us * From the shown in 1958. H

BBC

know

television

be an

We

are

and surroundings the :

us as different persons.

scries

'

The Epilogue \

first

LIVING PRAYER

114

There

proverb that

a Russian

is

meeting sheep, but he

Which

the lady terror at

who

is all

a sheep

is

'He

is

when he

a lion

meets

more ways than one: we

quite true in

is

says,

and

smiles with outsiders

home, or the big boss who

is

so

who

tame

when lions.'

all

know

is

a holy

in private

life.

When

it

comes

which one of our

to praying, our

first difficulty is

personalities should be put

to find

forward to

we are so unaccustomed to be our real self that in all truth we do not know which one that is and we do not know how to find it. But if we meet God.

It is

not simple because

;

were

to give a

activities

and

few minutes contacts,

closer to the discovery.

a

day to think over our various

we would

probably come

much

We could find out the sort of person

we were when we met so and so, and the other person we were when we were doing this or that. And we could ask ourselves: but when was I really myself? Perhaps never, perhaps only for a

split

second or perhaps to a certain

extent under special circumstances, while meeting particular people.

Now,

can spare, and

I

in these five or ten minutes

am

course of the day,

more boring

sure everyone can spare

you

them

will discover that there

is

in the

nothing

for us than to be left alone with ourselves!

We usually live some sort of reflected a variety

which you

life.

Not only are we

of people successively under various circumstances

but also the very

life

that

is

in us belongs so often to other

people. If you look into yourself, and if you dare to question

how how that in

you act from the very core of your personality, often you are expressing your own self, you will see

often

it

happens rarely enough.

what

is

happening around

Too

often

us, all

we

are

immersed

the unnecessaries

we

gather from this period, these fan

mini

F
.

G

like the cleaning ;: ot

:v

:\.:::::::c

.:

the course ol

I

intruded upon

l

things

d

r,

&

or

g::.'

;.

To begin

master.

.

with,

and

l

>;;:::>

it

m>:

there'

to

-

a ce:

perhaps not much, but to

discover die

into

his

painting;

we

see

betvi ;;::. but at die sai

authentic beauty.

person

:

So

let

who

s

Grief and joy

ot

:

Next

disc

needs God; but not

us set out to

'Help mi true

And we

do

thi

(

ip-

LIVING PRAYER

Il6

because obviously if we are to address God,

be

We all know what a headmaster

real.

when

God must

for schoolboys

is

him they go to the headthem until they have grown

they have to go and see

master and

it

never occurs to

up and no longer

in his

They think of him his

this

human

power

in terms of a function

personality of every

there can be

adorns her with

all sorts

have any of them and

artificial.

is

human

;

but

a

is

this

man.

empties

and

characteristic

no kind of human contact with him.

Another example: when

nothing

that the headmaster

a

boy

is

in love

of perfections this

;

with a

he

girl,

may

but she

not

person constructed out of

very often 'nothing', clad in

qualities that are

Here again there can be no contact because the

boy

is

also

of God.

someone who does not

addressing

This

exist.

true

is

We have a lot of mental or visual pictures of

God, collected from books, from church, from what

we

when we are children and eventually from clergymen when we are older. Quite often these pictures hear from adults

prevent us from meeting the real God. They are not quite false

because there

is

some

perfectly inadequate to the reality of

meet God

we

God.

must, on the one hand,

knowledge acquired

either personally,

reading, hearing, listening, but also,

go

The knowledge of God which we result

of yesterday's experience and

front of

God

as

we know

and yet they are

truth in them,

him,

we

if

If

we

make or

wish to

use of the

by means of

farther.

possess today

we

is

a

set ourselves in

will always turn

our

backs to the present and to the future, looking only at our

own

past. It

is

not

God

that

we

are going to meet,

what we have already learned about him. This the function of theology, since theology

is

it is

illustrates

our whole

EPILOGUE

117

knowledge of God and not the small amount we have

known and learned about him. You God as he really is, come to him

personally already

must, if you wish to meet

with to

a certain experience, allow

God, and leave

you know but

it

it

you

to bring

at that, standing before

close

God

not the

God both known and unknown.

the

What will happen next? Something quite simple: God who is free to come to you, to respond, to answer your prayers, may come to you and make you feel, perceive, his presence; he may also choose not to do so. He may just you

give as

important

upon

of his

a sense

real absence,

as the other,

and

this

experience

is

come

because in both cases you

of God's right to answer or to stand

the reality

back.

Try, then, to discover your face to face

God

with

as

he

or idols of God; and to help

support in

this effort, I

is,

own

real self

having shed

you

and to stand

images

all false

in this search, to give

suggest that

you

it

you

should, this week,

pray the following prayer: 'Help me,

O

God,

whatever the cost to

to discard

my

all false

comfort/

In the search for our true self we

boredom, which despair.

we

then to

God;

observe sort

it.

is

love

not only to

fear, or

first

thing to avoid

seems quite obvious, and yet

we do

Let us speak frankly to God, say to

we

are; not that he does not

a great difference

knows

even to

nakedness that brings us to our senses;

can begin to pray. The it

may come

have mentioned, but to

I

this

of person

there

we

It is

pictures of thee,

all

between assuming

is

lying

not always

him what

know that

it,

but

someone

about us, and having the courage and

LIVING PRAYER

Il8

person to speak truthfully and

real love for the

God

thing about ourselves. Let us say to stand before

him with

a feeling

are tired

we

we do

and would

go to bed, but we must beware of being frivolous or

presumptuous: he remains our God. After that the

just

would be

ideal

we

to remain happily in his presence, as

are with people

as to

be able just to

we must

when there is real we are not on those

love dearly,

talk, let it

sit

and look

be genuine

at

talk.

him and

thing, so that he should

know them from

drop them, leave them to him.

feel glad.

Let us put

worries to God, squarely, and then, having told

it is

when

We do not feel so happy and intimate with

terms with God.

him

we

But more often than not

intimacy.

As

we

every-

openly that

of uneasiness, that

not really want to meet him, that rather

tell

Now that he

no longer any of our concern: we can

us, is

all

our

him every-

we

in the

should

know,

freely think

of

him.

The

exercise

of this week, obviously, must be added to

the exercises of the previous weeks, and

it

will consist in

learning to put everyone of our concerns to God, after

having

settled ourselves in front

these concerns;

day repeat

and

of him, and then drop

to help us in this, let us

a very simple

from day

to

and precise prayer, that will define

way of dealing with God 'Help me O God to let go all my

our

problems, and fix

my

mind on thee/ If we did not put

our worries to God, they would stand

between him and us in the course of our meeting, but have is

also just seen that the next

to drop them.

We should

move, which

make

that in

is

we

essential,

an act of conn-

:

EPILOGUE

God enough

dence, trusting

119

to give

him

We

wish to get off our shoulders. But then, what next?

seem to have emptied

what

left,

because

emotions and reminiscences and so on.

although

And

it

I

that

not

is

Conversa-

part.

first

ordained was an

I

said:

'Did you give him a chance to put in a

well,' she said. is

And

of God/

I

sit

said:

I sit

in his presence/

God

and from

pray to

really

all

do set

'No,

and just knit before the

'It is

the result? Quite

extraordinary,

when

I

talk to

quietly, face to face

wrapped

I

you should

said:

I

that

is

What was

pray to God, in other words

when

have been talking to him

suggest

so she did.

soon she came again and

nothing, but

I

not that prayer?'

and what

it is,

'No,

apart fifteen minutes a day,

feel

who came to me old lady who said

people

have never had any sense of God's pre-

the time, because

not think

learn to be silent;

very important point.

a

is

one of the

we must

I

and

word?' 'Oh

I

on our

have been praying almost unceasingly for four-

teen years,

sence/ So

trifling it

when I was

for advice 'Father,

to achieve this

seems

remember

face

an encounter

that

to be a one-sided discourse

has to say.

all

remember

believe,

I

means not only talking but hearing what the other

tion

I

much

we going to do? We cannot remain empty, we do we shall be filled by the wrong things, by

must,

meant

nothing

is

are

if

feelings, thoughts,

We

ourselves, there

we

the troubles

You

when

him,

I

I

feel

with him, then

will never be able to

your heart

rejoice in the miracle

unless

you

learn

of his presence, or

to keep silent

and

if you prefer,

of your being face to face with him although

you do not

see

him.

Quite often, having said what sat for a certain

time,

wc

wc have

are at a loss:

to say

what

and having

shall

wc do?

LIVING PRAYER

120

What we should do I believe is to start on some set prayers. Some find set prayers too easy, and at the same time see a danger of taking for actual praying the repetition of what

someone else has said in the past. Indeed, cal

not worth doing, but what

it is

depends on us whether

would be

prayers

would

express,

only in the same master

composer

what that

is

is

it

set

not quite what they

In a sense

it is

unreal, but

which the painting of

in

to concerts,

music or

real

partly

we

a great

is

just the

visit art galleries to learn

real painting

to

is,

form our

why we should use set prayers,

taste;

to learn

and

which

which thoughts, which ways of expressions we

we belong to the Church. It also of dryness, when we have very little to say.

should employ,

time

it is

unreal for a beginner, and yet that

we go

feelings,

in

theirs.

way

that

is

unreal for a schoolboy, or the music of a great

is

point:

not

mechani-

overlooked

Others complain that

say.

unreal because

it is

is just

mechanical or not, by paying

it is

words we

attention to the

is

if it

if

helps

Apart from the stripped, naked, reduced-to-bone person

when we remain just alone, we are also in image of God and the child of God that is in each of us

which we the is

are

capable of praying with the loftiest and holiest prayers

of the Church. them.

We must remember we add

suggest

I

that

and make use of

to the exercises

we

have been

doing, a period of silence, a few minutes - three or four

minutes - which 'Help me,

O

my neighbour, Before I

would

I

we

shall

God, to and

may

end with a prayer:

see

my own

the glory

all

enter into the subject of

like to

pray to

God

that

sins,

never to judge

be thine

!'

'Unanswered Prayer',

he might enlighten both

EPILOGUE

me and you, one.

It is

meet on

because

it is

a difficult subject, yet such a vital

one of the great temptations which everyone

way, which makes

his

times people pray and

is

it

empty heaven;

may

very hard for beginners,

it

and even for proficient people, sing an

121

to pray to

Many

God.

seems to them that they are addres-

quite often

it is

because their prayer

meaningless, childish. I

remember

the case of an old

man

telling

me

that

when

he was a child he prayed for several months that he would be given by

God the amazing

gift

- that of every evening taking

and putting them into

happy

later

on

our prayers are

that

a glass

God

which

his uncle possessed his

mouth,

of water - and he was

terribly

his teeth

out of

did not grant his wish. Often

as puerile as this,

and of course they are not

when we pray we believe that we are praying rightly, but we pray for something which involves other people, of whom we do not think at all. If we pray for wind in our sails, we do not realise that it may mean a storm at sea for others, and God will not granted. Quite frequently

grant a request that affects others badly.

two obvious points, there is another side to unanswered prayer which is more basic and deep there are cases when we pray to God from all our heart for Besides these

:

something which, from every angle, seems to be worthy of being heard, and yet there silence

'No', is,

as

it it

is

much

is

nothing but

harder to bear than

would be

a positive reaction

were, the absence of

God and

silence,

and

God

said

refusal. If

of God's, but

silence

that leads us to

two

when our prayer is not answered, we doubt God, or else we doubt ourselves. What we doubt in God is not his might, his power to do what we wish, but temptations:

cither

LIVING PRAYER

122

we doubt essential is

his love, his concern.

We

beg for something

and he does not even seem to be concerned where ;

and

his love

his

compassion? This

is

the

first

temptation.

we know that if we had as much faith as a mustard seed, we could move mountains and when we see that nothing budges, we think, 'Does that mean that There

is

the faith

another:

I

have got

untrue, and there attentively,

that

you

is

is

adulterated, false?' This again

is

another answer: if you read the gospel

will see that there

is

only one prayer in

was not answered. It is the prayer of Christ

it

in the garden

we know that if once in history God was concerned for the one who prayed, it was then for his son, before his death, and also we know that if ever perfect faith was exemplified, it was in his case, but God of Gethsemane, and yet

found

that the faith

of the divine

sufferer

was great enough

to bear silence.

God withholds an

answer to our prayers not only

they are unworthy but

when he

when

finds in us such greatness,

such depth - depth and power of faith -

that

he can rely

upon us to remain faithful even in the face of his silence. I remember a young woman with an incurable disease and

of the awareness of God's presence, she suddenly sensed God's absence - some sort of real absence after years

and she wrote

to

me

saying, 'Pray to

God,

please, that

I

should never yield to the temptation of building up an illusion

Her

of

faith

his presence, rather

was

great.

and God gave her

Remember day you I

than accept his absence/

She was able to stand

this

temptation

experience of his silent absence.

these examples, think

will surely

this

them over because one

have to face the same

cannot give you any exercise, but

I

situation.

only want you to

EPILOGUE remember

we

that

should always keep our faith

God and

both in the love of

and when

this

which

prayer,

123

in our honest, truthful faith,

temptation comes upon

made of two

is

intact,

say this

us, let us

pronounced by

sentences

Jesus Christ himself:

Thy hands

'Into

Thy Whatever ways

in

I

commend my

Will, not mine, be done/

have

tried to give as

do

all I

an outline of the main

can make the

be rooted in our

not simply an effort which

moment we

intend to pray prayer must

life

never be alive nor

and

;

if our life contradicts

Of course we

real.

framework of prayer uneasy about. But

Another trend and

by

it

difficulty

into daydreaming,

that

our prayers,

life,

they will

can deal with that

and make an easy escape by excluding from our

prayers everything that, in our

is

mean

is

or if our prayers have nothing to do with our

difficulty

it

have suggested you will be able to pray?

Indeed not, because prayer

There

spirit,

which we should approach prayer, does

that if you

we

I

is

all

those things

we

does not solve anything

common

satisfactorily.

To

life

is

to

fall

a sentimental

life is basically.

two

solution for these

into the

ashamed or

which we meet constantly

of joining together

difficulties;

and prayer, making them one,

help us along this

line, set prayers,

have already spoken, are most precious because

they are an objective, hard outline of a

You may

fit

are

when our prayer expresses

living our prayer. I

does not

not the expression of what our

one

of which

life,

way of

say that they are unnatural, and

sense that they express the

measurably greater than

we

life

are,

it is

of people of

praying.

true in the

who

real christians,

arc

im-

but that

LIVING PRAYER

124 is

why you

just

make

can

the sort of people for

use of them, trying to

whom

become

those prayers are natural.

You remember Christ's words: 'Into Thy hands I commend my Spirit/ Of course it is not within our own experience, but if we learn from day to day to become the sort of person who is capable of pronouncing these words sincerely, in all honesty, we will not only make our prayers real, but we will make ourselves real, with a new reality, the true reality

you

If

them

you it

you

I

have

take one after the other, each of the

of these prayers, and

if

you

try to

make each of

in turn the motto, the slogan that will direct the day,

becomes the

will see that prayer

will give

you

a

framework

stand in judgement, against lie

which

take, for instance, the five prayers

suggested and if petitions

of becoming the sons of God.

when you pronounce

for

it,

you or

criterion

of your

but also your

for you, giving

these words, or,

on

life

life;

will

you

the

the contrary,

you are true to them. Take each sentence of each prayer and make it the rule of one day after the other, so for weeks and weeks, until you become the sort of

affirming that

person for

whom

these

words

We have to part now; with you, although

I

I

are

life.

have immensely enjoyed being

do not

see you, but

we

are united in

common interest for the life of the spirit. Lord God be with each of you and in our midst

prayer and in our

May

the

for ever.

And

before

we

part,

I

would

like us to say together

short prayer that will unite us before the throne of

one

God:

O Lord, I know not what to ask of thee; thou alone knowesc what are my true needs. Thou lovest me more than I know how to love myself. Help me to see my real needs which are con-

EPILOGUE cealed I

from mc.

I

dare not ask either a cross or consolation.

My

can only wait on thee.

help

me

me down put

all

heart

is

open to

for thy great mercy's sake, strike

and

raise

me

up.

and thine inscrutable ways. I

125

my

trust in thee.

thy will. Teach

me how

I

I I

worship in offer

thee. Visit

and

me and heal me,

cast

silence thy

myself as

have no other

holy will

a sacrifice to thee.

desire than to fulfil

to pray, pray thou thyself in

AMEN

me.

Metropolitan Anthony (who is

is

known

to

many

readers as Anthony Bloom)

a Russian Orthodox bishop. Before becoming

who worked

physician

a

monk he was

Two. His writings have attracted an ever-growing audience country and

in

England, where he

is

appearance, LIVING PRAYER has become a

Among

the

many

War

in this

also noted for his radio and

television appearances. During the years since

classic

a

with the French Resistance during World

its

initial

spiritual

topics covered here are

the problem of praying honestly, meditation and

worship, and

how

to discard false images of

ourselves and of God. In LIVING

PRAYER

Metropolitan Anthony

few

how

writers can,

sustain the

life

tells us, as

to begin

of prayer.

and

livinq

prayer

Tenth U.S. Printing Paulist Center -•

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ISBN D-fl7EM3-D5M-5 50995>

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