New York City's St. Eleftherios Greek Orthodox Church has offered this week's meditation, that can be read in full below.
You and Your Prayer
Christians know that their most effective communication with God is found in prayer. They worship together in church by singing hymns and chanting prayers. They pray orally in a loud, moderate or soft voice. They pray mentally or in absolute silence. They also pray whenever they offer their service to others. They know that they can pray anywhere and anytime - whether standing, sitting, kneeling, laying prone - whether walking or running, working, socializing or playing. Christians seek a life of prayer...a prayer life.
When we pray we place our minds in a frame of reference which makes us cognizant of our dependence upon God, and our mindfulness of His constant, loving, ever-presence in our lives. As we go about our daily chores we have ample possibilities to say a short prayer every now and then, such as "Our Father", the "Creed", a favorite prayer or simply a personal discussion with the absolutely best friend of our eternal life. During our break periods or at lunch, even in the midst of a crowd, we can offer prayers for our loved ones, for those around us, for those who love us and those who hate us, for any purpose whatsoever at all. The joy of this experience is the peaceful contentment you experience while offering those secret prayers which will be heard and received by God alone (...and your heavenly Father who sees in secret will reward you openly - St. Matthew 6:6)
At free times during the day or in the evening we should seek quiet time...to read the Holy Bible, the Church Fathers, books of inspiration and spiritual enlightenment. We can also meditate in seeking God's divine guidance and His Will in our life. We can read or pray together with loved ones and share in the wealth and treasure of our Holy Orthodox Faith.
St. Paul tells us that we should pray "unceasingly". The Hesychasts (The fathers who prayed unceasingly in spoken and mental prayer) used the Jesus Prayer - "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me a sinner." Of course, they, as many Church Fathers, often recognized the importance of what is known as silent prayer.
Every one of us knows that the Christian struggle is real. It is not something God compels us to do. Rather it is something we do because we love God. It tells us that while we strive to attain unity with God, we are also striving to touch the hearts of our fellow sojourners - in this life and in this world - by sharing their and our journey with love, mercy, compassion and hope.
Psalm 131:1-3: "O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother's breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul..."
Isaiah 7:4: "...say to him, 'Take heed, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint..."
Isaiah 30:15: "...in quietness and trust shall be your strength."
So as you see, my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, we are not only seeking to find a life of prayer and a prayer life, but we are constantly pursuing a loftier goal...to make our life prayer itself. For in our constant awareness of God's ever-presence in our life at all times - in virtue and in sin - in joys and in sorrows - in peace and in turmoil – in all our words, thoughts and deeds – we become more and more aware of this Wondrous, Magnificent and Holy Ever-Presence. He will fill our being...and in our silent prayer, we shall simply "be" in the presence of Almighty God!