General advice on prayer

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jgress
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General advice on prayer

Postby jgress » Tue 2 April 2013 4:06 am

This contains some excellent advice by St Theophan the Recluse:

http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/readings/learn/rule.shtml

Do consult the other links.

Here are some important tips I got from what I've read so far:

Having the right emotions accompanying prayer are very much part of the purpose of prayer. I have for a long time misunderstood this, since I thought you were supposed to pray regardless of how you felt. That is true in the sense that you have to force yourself to pray when you feel like doing something else, but you also have to force yourself to FEEL the appropriate emotions when praying. Feeling the correct emotions is linked with focusing on the words of the prayer, understanding them and thus having an awareness of God's presence.

Note that this is NOT the same as the Roman Catholic tradition of conjuring IMAGES in your mind as you pray, e.g. trying to imagine the Crucifixion while praying the rosary. The Orthodox method recognizes that the Presence you are addressing in prayer is unseen by our normal vision, and therefore we shouldn't try to conjure up images. We SHOULD try to maintain a constant awareness of God, of His love for us, of His greatness, and all His other attributes that we recognize.

Don't be hasty with prayer! Mumbling out the words without paying attention to them is completely, utterly pointless. It's better to get through one prayer, having focused on it intensely, then rattle through ten prayers without understanding a word. St Theophan recommends having a set time, like 15 minutes, and just focus on spending those 15 minutes praying your prayers with all your heart. However much you get through is really not the point.

There are many other wonderful points but I'll let people read for themselves.

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Maria
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Re: General advice on prayer

Postby Maria » Tue 2 April 2013 5:08 am

jgress wrote:This contains some excellent advice by St Theophan the Recluse:

http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/readings/learn/rule.shtml

Do consult the other links.

Here are some important tips I got from what I've read so far:

Having the right emotions accompanying prayer are very much part of the purpose of prayer. I have for a long time misunderstood this, since I thought you were supposed to pray regardless of how you felt. That is true in the sense that you have to force yourself to pray when you feel like doing something else, but you also have to force yourself to FEEL the appropriate emotions when praying. Feeling the correct emotions is linked with focusing on the words of the prayer, understanding them and thus having an awareness of God's presence.

Note that this is NOT the same as the Roman Catholic tradition of conjuring IMAGES in your mind as you pray, e.g. trying to imagine the Crucifixion while praying the rosary. The Orthodox method recognizes that the Presence you are addressing in prayer is unseen by our normal vision, and therefore we shouldn't try to conjure up images. We SHOULD try to maintain a constant awareness of God, of His love for us, of His greatness, and all His other attributes that we recognize.

Don't be hasty with prayer! Mumbling out the words without paying attention to them is completely, utterly pointless. It's better to get through one prayer, having focused on it intensely, then rattle through ten prayers without understanding a word. St Theophan recommends having a set time, like 15 minutes, and just focus on spending those 15 minutes praying your prayers with all your heart. However much you get through is really not the point.

There are many other wonderful points but I'll let people read for themselves.


This is why it is good to have private time for prayers.

My husband and I pray together most of the time and it is difficult because I cannot stop and/or repeat a phrase or a sentence. Sometimes I do stop in awe and ponder the inexpressible because the passage is so profound, but my husband will say, "Are you okay?" However, I have also noticed the tenderness in my husband's voice when he is praying an ode to the Theotokos. This extreme tenderness causes me to pay more attention to the words and phrases. This, too, is why it is extremely important to be evenly yoked, so that a married couple can truly pray together in one spirit and one body.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.

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Maria
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Re: General advice on prayer

Postby Maria » Wed 3 April 2013 12:32 am

Note that this is NOT the same as the Roman Catholic tradition of conjuring IMAGES in your mind as you pray, e.g. trying to imagine the Crucifixion while praying the rosary. The Orthodox method recognizes that the Presence you are addressing in prayer is unseen by our normal vision, and therefore we shouldn't try to conjure up images. We SHOULD try to maintain a constant awareness of God, of His love for us, of His greatness, and all His other attributes that we recognize.


Perhaps the Roman Catholic practice of praying using the imagination has resulted in over active imaginations:
http://www.10news.com/news/jesus-and-mary-sightings

Viewing these photos should help us be wary of using our imagination during prayer.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.

jgress
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Re: General advice on prayer

Postby jgress » Wed 3 April 2013 2:19 am

Perhaps. Of course, this is why we have icons. Icons show us the correct images that we SHOULD use when praying. I didn't mean to say you shouldn't use images when praying, since they are clearly very helpful for focusing the mind, just that one shouldn't attempt to invent one's own images.

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Maria
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Re: General advice on prayer

Postby Maria » Sun 7 February 2016 10:09 pm

Here are some profound thoughts on prayer from St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain:

http://pneumatikotita.forumotion.com/t51p150-topic

Here is only one paragraph:

On Prayer and Watchfulness.

Time is short, and it is unknown when it will expire. Therefore, let us struggle and be careful and expel every evil thought with anger and fervent prayer. And if we shed tears we shall benefit greatly, for tears cleanse the soul and make it whiter than snow. Let us stand ready for battle courageously, for we wrestle against the powers of darkness, which never make allies and never lessen their attacks. Therefore, let us also rouse ourselves and not be drowsy, for our eternal life is at stake. If we lose the victory, we have lost our soul, have utterly lost eternal rest and joy in God, and have condemned ourselves to the second death, which is eternal separation from God—may this not come to pass. While practicing watchfulness, let us be vigilant with thoughts. We fall into sin because of our thoughts. So let us fight powerfully against our thoughts and not allow thoughts to become strong within us due to our negligence, but as soon as they arrive let us drive away the fantasy and with anger seize the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God—that is, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me”. So as we call on the sweet Jesus, He immediately rushes to help us and the demons flee at once. We must not, however, say the prayer negligently, but with a fervent spirit cry out from the depths, “Master, save me, I am perishing!” (Lk. 8:24 ). The struggle to ward off thoughts in the beginning is small. If, however, we allow the thoughts to become stronger, then the struggle becomes difficult, and often we are defeated and wounded as well. But when we arise and cry out, the good captain Jesus comes again and steers our boat to the calm and peaceful harbor. It is in our thoughts that we either suffer damage and are defiled, or progress and become better. For this reason let us place our nous—that is, our attention—in our heart as a brave guard, armed with courage, the prayer, silence, and self-reproach. If we struggle in this manner, the outcome will be sweet peace, joy, purity, spiritual philosophy, and the prayer, which as a most fragrant incense will cense the temple of God, the inner man. “Do you know”, says the Apostle Paul, “that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16 ). I write these things in order to rouse your souls to spiritual vigilance, so that you may find the inner peace of God and rejoice. Amen; so be it
.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.

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Maria
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Re: General advice on prayer

Postby Maria » Sun 7 February 2016 10:51 pm

Here are three paragraphs from another article on prayer by St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain:
1) Keep your body strictly disciplined in food, sleep and rest. Do not give it anything simply because it wants it; as the Apostle says: "Make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof" (Romans 13:14). Give no respite to the flesh.

2) Reduce your external contacts to the most inevitable. This is for the period of your training in prayer. Later, when prayer begins to act in you, it will itself indicate what can be added without harming it. Especially guard your senses, above all, eyes and ears; also tie your tongue. Without this guarding, you will not make a single step forward in the work of prayer. As a candle cannot burn in wind and rain, so the flame of prayer cannot be lit in a flood of impressions from outside.

3) Use all the time left from prayer in reading and meditation. For reading, choose mainly such books as deal with prayer and generally with inner spiritual life. Meditate exclusively on God and on divine matters, and above all on the incarnated dispensation for our salvation, chiefly on the passion and death of our Lord and Savior. Doing this you will always be immersed in the sea of divine light. In addition, go to church, whenever you have the possibility to do so. Merely to be present in church will envelop you in a cloud of prayer. What then will you receive if you stand throughout the service in a true state of prayer?


To read the entire article: http://www.innerlightproductions.com/20 ... ds-to.html
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.

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Re: General advice on prayer

Postby Matthew » Mon 8 February 2016 5:15 pm

Wow! Beautiful. /\


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