Glory to Jesus Christ!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
Today is Friday 29 July 2022 and the Ukrainian people are already experiencing the 156th day of the great war, the full-scale military aggression of Russia against our people.
Yesterday and tonight were possibly the most frightening in almost six months. It was a day when the enemy released the largest number of Russian bombs and missiles of various types on the territory of Ukraine. So, apparently, our enemies wanted to greet believing Ukrainians on the feast of the Baptism of Rus-Ukraine and the day of our statehood. Our Kharkiv shuddered. Bombs hit Kropyvnytskyi. Dozens of people were killed and injured by rocket attacks. Again, our glorious Mykolayiv experienced yet another tragedy. We received the news that just a few hours ago, a young volunteer, 35-year-old Valentyn Latyntsev, died in his apartment, along with his family, his father, and his mother, who was an active volunteer of the Mykolayiv branch of the Red Cross. And, unfortunately, many such stories happened in Ukraine just yesterday. The most intense fighting is taking place in the Donetsk region, around the city of Bakhmut.
But Ukraine is standing. Ukraine is fighting. Ukraine is praying.
Today, I would like to continue our journey with you in this very special school of Christian prayer, as an important part of a Christian’s ability to overcome, especially to overcome in the invisible battle with the devil. You and I have already mentioned that Christian prayer can be communal or personal. We have already talked about five types of personal prayer, which we distinguish as five types of prayer intentions, about what we want to say in our prayer to the Lord.
Today I would like to reflect with you about how to pray, what are the different ways of prayer, how we can practically implement all this in our lives. And so the Lord Jesus Christ Himself gives us some key advice on how we should practically perform our personal daily prayer.
First of all, the Lord advises us not to pray for show in any case, in order to present ourselves as very prayerful, pious in the eyes of other people. The Lord God says: “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).
The second advice that our Saviour gives us is that we should not be verbose in our prayer, because when we speak too much, use too many empty words, then, according to the words of our Saviour, we become like the pagans, we become like those who do not understand who the all-knowing, all-seeing Lord God is, who does not need to be convinced in anything, He is only waiting for our open heart, which, in trust, hands the life of the supplicant into His hands.
There is another very important point that will help us practice our personal daily prayer correctly. Regarding that way of prayer, three types of prayer can be distinguished. These are: prayer in one’s own words; prayer with the help of prayers established by the holy Church, which we find in prayer books or in other books where Christian prayers are collected, as a spiritual experience of a thousand years of Church prayer; and thirdly, to pray with psalms or prayerfully read the Holy Scriptures.
Today, let’s take a closer look at this first way of prayer—spontaneous prayer with your own words. Obviously, it is so important for us to have openness and courage in communication with the Lord God, so that even when we do not know what to say to God, if we are not used to praying with some established prayers, let it not stop us on this path of communication with God. Opening your heart to God is one of the ways to pray even without words, praying in silence, only mutual contemplation, when you look into the face of God, either depicted on an icon, or feeling His presence in an invisible way, and at that moment you realize that the Lord God is looking at you. Such a simple exchange, an exchange of pain, an exchange of even our sufferings, even without words, can also be a prayer. Even the words that you will speak, say them sincerely, openly, do not try to present yourself to God differently than you really are, because this is what we sometimes do when we communicate with people, we want to appear better than we really are. Let us reveal ourselves to God as we really are, and ask for His presence and the healing grace of the Holy Spirit.
O God, hear the prayers of Your people. Hear the cry, the cry of Your people, as You once listened to the prayers of the people of Israel in Egyptian captivity, because You said to Moses that the voice of the cry of My people reached My ears. O God, listen to us and hurry to help and save us.
May the blessing of the Lord be upon you through His grace and love of mankind, always, now and ever, and for ages of ages. Amen.
Glory to Jesus Christ!