Is there a connection between our prayer and our actions and what? How to distinguish "mental ore" from "mental nonsense" and get to God through yourself and your "I"? What to do when there is no time to pray? And can I read the rule in the tram?
"What's up? How is prayer? "
When we meet people close to us or people we just know that we have not seen for a while, we usually ask how they do and how they feel. To this we are motivated, on the one hand, by an elementary politeness, and on the other - by the desire to get a brief idea of what is important for the interlocutor: we all know perfectly well that a person's condition depends very much on the state of his affairs and health. But hearing this question in everyday life: "How are you doing, and how do you feel?", I involuntarily recall how the Christian ascetics of antiquity greeted each other. When they met, they were interested in each other: "How is prayer?"
The state of our prayer is the most faithful and capacious indicator of the state of our life
Probably, it would be strange if we somehow deliberately decided to exchange such a welcome phrase. But at the same time for believing people it is the most universal possibility in a few words to learn something about each other, because the state of our prayer is the most faithful and capacious indicator of the state of our life. It is such a wonderful sensitive device with many scales, on which reflects both the level and degree of bias, and the depth, and tension, and resistance in human life. There is no prayer in a vacuum - a prayer that is not influenced by everything that we do towards other people, what we do with our heart and with ourselves.
We often make the mistake of thinking that our prayer depends, first of all, on how diligently we obey the morning and evening rule, how long our prayers are. Both diligence and attention, of course, are important, but if prayer depended only on this, there would not be people who go to the temple for years, read the rule for years, the Psalter, the Akathists, study the worship - and at the same time nothing in their prayer does not change, there is no going to God. Why? Because prayer is our conversation with God, and this communication can be real only when from our side there is a hundred percent honesty and sincerity on our part. And where do they come from, if a person and himself are not honest to the end, if he wanders through life, in some way deceiving himself, in some way deceiving others? Sometimes it seems to a person: yes, in life I can mislead someone, but before God I never cunning. But the fact is that to deceive God is not only to "tell" Him some untruth. We are trying to deceive God in those moments when we pretend that we have forgotten what He wants from us, what is required of us by this or that commandment. But the Lord in every moment of our life and sees what we do, and knows what we think.
There is a patristic saying: "How we live and we pray ...", but it would certainly be incomplete without its second part: "... as we pray, so we live." And here again we are not talking about the number of Akathists read, and not only about whether we devote time to prayer and whether we carefully examine its words. The bottom line is that when our life feeds on prayer, when we do not consider turning to God as something separately existing, the reverse process also happens - prayer begins to change our life.
And this happens to each of us in one way or another, even if the prayer books are, we say, far from perfect. In principle, to make sure of this, you can conduct such an experiment: stop for a short time to pray at all and observe the changes that will happen to us. Regularly praying people already on the first-second day with a high probability will feel how his heart cools, how something changes in his reactions, as something in all his daily life starts to go wrong. And after a while - until this stage, of course, you do not need to reach - a person loses the feeling of prayer as such, it becomes something external for him, and instead of remembering about God, there arises bewilderment: why give so much time and attention to prayer, why do you need it at all? At the same time, his life, in comparison with the previous one, goes peddling, but he can not even feel it. But if a person returns to prayer life again, if he asks God to revive his soul and gradually moves away from the state of insensibility, his life changes again, and he begins to think: "How could I have lived all this time ..." And it seems that it was a dream somehow, and now he finally woke up again, returned to normal being.
Get out of the bushes
St. Epiphanius of Cyprus
Once Bishop Epiphany of Cyprus, visiting the monasteries established by him, and listening to the reports of the governors about the life of the brethren, said something like this: "You say that you pray by performing all the services that are prescribed. That is, you pray only at the time that is prescribed by the statute? This is distressing, because it means that you do not pray at all. "
This statement is one of the important reasons why it is so difficult for us to focus on worship, why we have to push ourselves to the prayer rule with such effort. When a person creates a prayer only at some appropriate time, and forgets about it in the "inter-prayer" period, it is very difficult to return to this state of being converted to God.
We will try all that is done, everything that is contemplated is checked by the word of God - immediately
Prayer "sprouts" into a person's life when he consciously fills his life with it. This filling begins with the fact that we try everything done, thought to check with the word of God and, based on this, to draw a conclusion about the correctness or incorrectness of what is happening at this moment in our life. For those who have ever tried to do this, it is probably well-known that it is difficult to overcome at some moments how to hide from the face of God. Every time we give in to this weakness, we deal a serious blow to our prayer. It is impossible after some events of the day, which we did not want to see from the gospel point of view, "get out of the bushes", like Adam, to stand on his evening rule and as if nothing had happened to be in communion with God. And these moments, when the bushes ahead loom, can be scattered for every day of our tens. And we need just at this time God to ask for help, that He gave us determination, gave us courage, gave us the ability not to regret ourselves.
It must be said that it is the life events in which we - immediately, experiencing them in the present tense - turn to God, become for us the most important practical school of prayer. After all, then we really pray to God, and not just read the lines of prayers, and sometimes our word pronounced in such a situation with pain, from the tightness of the heart, acquires a very special strength and special price.
In this reality of his life should be and during the daily home prayer, and in worship. We repeatedly reiterate the request that the Lord save us and pardon us. But do we feel that we are really dying, that this is not an abstraction, not a metaphor? As a rule, not always. But the more consciously a person lives, the less he stays in his fantasies, the more often these and other words are filled with concrete meaning and content for him.
Me or not I?
It is very important to start the day with a prayer, throughout this day not to go far from ourselves. It may not be easy to explain in a few words, but many probably know this feeling: get up in the evening for prayer, open prayer books, start to read - and in the head a confusion in which even you are lost and can not find yourself. And then, of course, prayer will be torn from our life, because you need to at least be in the feeling of yourself, to feel, before whom you represent.
Therefore, before turning to God, you need to turn to yourself. What does it mean? The fact that each of us is a unique personality that is not limited to the name, character, occupation, the circumstances of our earthly life, the perception of others around us, and what we think about ourselves. Our "I" is something that words can not describe. This is something that only the Lord really knows and that only He can reveal to us. And when a person turns to his unique self and the next inner movement turns to God, the process of interaction begins.
Why is this awareness so important? Because a man who has lost his sense of self is capable of madness. He is in some kind of binge, he is doing something, and he himself really does not understand where in all this he is, and where he is not. In severe cases, this is a medical question, but it is important to understand that this is also a spiritual process that can have devastating consequences for a person's inner life. And again, it can not be said that this does not concern at least to some extent very many of us. We do some deeds, and then we come to confession and can not explain them in any way. We offended someone, told someone something, and now we tell all this about ourselves and we understand that this does not fit into the framework of common sense, which we still possess. And this again shows how important it is to constantly come into yourself and at least every time before we rise to prayer, remind ourselves of this need.
"Photo" of thoughts
There is one more reason why the person's constant prayerful conversion to God is so important. What happens to us when we forget ourselves to this remembrance of God to inspire? The same as with the people around us who do not even know that it is possible and necessary to pray at every moment of our lives: our head is engaged in incessant, flowing thoughts into each other. And if, again, as an experiment, take a notebook and try to capture in it frankly everything that we think about during the day - the result from the point of view of common sense will be terrible. In fact, very few people have enough patience for the whole day, because two or three hours of this writing behind them give the person such a picture that prompts him to start ordering his thoughts without delay.
And this ordering is tying his thoughts, as a kind of peg to the remembrance of God, to verses from the Psalms, the request to the Lord to save us and have mercy, to pray in their own words in a person releases an enormous internal energy. After all, the garbage in our head is not just some kind of slag; this is what takes our intellectual forces, it has a certain impact on our heart, what gives us a very real fatigue, which in modern man so often turns into a chronic one. As a result, we do not have the strength to think about what we really need to think about, we are exhausted by vain, empty emotions and do not find in ourselves enough sympathy for our neighbors.
Of course, we can not build the course of our thoughts at all, we can not say to ourselves: "Now I think about this for ten minutes, then fifteen minutes about it," and so on. In addition, sometimes and out of the chaotic movement of thoughts there is something that deserves attention. But still it is necessary to distinguish the mental "ore" from which something can be melted, and the mental "nonsense," from which it is absolutely impossible to extract anything good. If a person in all periods of time, when his mind is relatively free, seeks to occupy him with a prayer, this debris in some surprising way becomes less and less, he gradually disappears.
Sowing on stone
It is necessary to pull a thread of prayer, so that if possible, it encircles us and contains in itself our day. How is this possible? This becomes possible when the Christian does not just begin the day with prayer and ends his prayer, and when he consciously go to this evening time, when he once again before God will stand up and will summarize passing day: remember all their actions, their daily requests to Lord, ask for forgiveness of what was wrong during this day, and the admonition in what he could not figure out. Then the person will have the opportunity and in the nighttime to enter with a memory of God and with a feeling of coming before his Creator. Of course, in a dream we will not pray, but in the morning, getting up and before any business, turning to God, we will feel that this reversal in us has not disappeared anywhere.
It is necessary to pull a thread of prayer so that it wraps around itself all day long
We know how rare it is and how easily it happens - in the day's haste, in the evening's fatigue - to get out of this way. But we need to find time after time that our prayer prevents us from continuing, and deal with this.
Here it is possible to recall, for example, the statement of St. Isaac the Syrian: the prayer of the vindictive is like sowing on a stone. That is, if we take offense at someone, are angry, then we can not pray properly. And it's good if a person realizes what exactly hinders his prayer. And it happens that a person has so many offenses against others, that this is some kind of unconscious cargo, this is just a constant background of his life, and why his prayer turns out to be so dry, lean, he, by and large, can not understand.
It may be added that, as once said Elder Jerome Aegina, if you get up to pray and begin at this time about something, do not you think, it is very urgent and important to yourself to think, so that your mind by prayer removed , then know: these are your enemies. Remember them in person, then to deal with them, and continue to concentrate at all costs on prayer. Here it is necessary to clarify that the enemies are, of course, not people, not things, not the things that are recalled to us during prayer, but what is connected with these people, things and deeds in our consciousness and carries our heart too much. This may not in itself be evil in our lives, but at the moment it is something that we allow ourselves to stand between ourselves and God. We need to understand how this has become so important for us and how to reduce this importance. Here you can recall an episode from the life of St. Basil the Blessed, when he pointed to Tsar Ivan the Terrible for his thoughts, in which the king was not in worship, but on the Sparrow Hills - he chose a place for the construction of his palace. We can not have this palace, but something much less grandiose, but the scale here is not primary. Perhaps in the construction of this conditional palace, we do not let God act at all, and we need to find the strength to say: "Lord, I trust you. I myself will do everything I can, and you'll spare me to take care of this and give me the opportunity now to think only about you and in my whole life only to seek for you. " And then, by the grace of God, this care will let us go internally, and we can pray for our spiritual needs.
But there may be another point, which is fundamentally different from what I just said. It happens that during prayer we remember the person who caused us some pain, and it is possible that we hurt him too. And we want to turn to God with something else, and we all have it before our eyes. In this case, on the contrary, it is necessary not to try to get rid of these thoughts, but to make the content of your prayer a prayer for this person. And this will connect our prayer with life: if our experiences and mental anguish at this time were about one thing, and we would pray for another, it would be artificial, and so our prayer will be whole and truthful. It seems very important to me the thought of the holy ascetics that everything that concerns us in this life concerns God, and therefore we do not need anything that disturbs us and concerns our neighbors and our salvation, past God. You have to pray for everything, and you need to talk to the Lord about everything.
The rule in the tram
On this, perhaps, it would be possible to finish, if ... If it were not for questions that can sometimes be heard from parishioners after conversations on these topics. "Father, I agree with all that you say: how to concentrate during the rule, how to drive away extraneous thoughts. But in practice I, in order to gather, send the children to school, get there on time before work, get up at half past five in the morning, and for me the only way to read the rule is in the tram ... "
Let there be only five to ten minutes for a concentrated prayer - but they must be!
This is not uncommon. And I can not tell parishioners who already sleep five to six hours a day, so that they get up half an hour earlier and have time to pray at home. Someone prays in the morning in transport, someone on the road reads the evening rule, returning late from work, because he understands: then he will simply turn off after fatigue. But this too is life, and our prayer, as I said above, is part of this life with all its difficult circumstances. By analogy, we can say that someone can afford a variety, healthy food, and for someone the basis of the diet are cheap pasta. And just like a person who does not have money for something more, there is no question of brewing pasta or staying without food at all, we should not have dilemmas, pray on the way to work, or simply state that to fulfill the rule by In the mornings we can not. But at the same time, as a person living in poverty, aspires at any opportunity to get enough, a person who has few opportunities for a full-fledged solitary prayer should be characterized by the desire to organize himself at least from time to time a full-fledged spiritual meal.
It is necessary to try, that in any circumstances at least some time for prayer in solitude, the prayer concentrated in our life was present. If it can not be half an hour, then it should be at least five to ten minutes: you can begin this way your morning rule, and continue it already on the road. So it is in the evening: you can read the prayers on the road to "Vladyka the Man-loving, do I really have this coffin ...", and finish his prayer already in silence, when nothing distracts us from the coming before God.
Perhaps at some point we say God is only a few words, asking Him for forgiveness for what we pray so, on the go, then in a dream, asking Him to strengthen us in life's difficulties - and these words will be focused then that would not have been born in us even for many years under ideal conditions for prayer. And if we had not tried to pray all this time, no matter what, it would not have been again. After all, in fact, the essence of prayer lies in the repentant, pleading, grateful conversion of man to God, which occurs directly from his life. And all the rest - only some external variations.