Today is what we Orthodox call Judgement Sunday or Meatfare Sunday. Judgement Sunday because we reflect especially today on the fact that we will all stand before God in Judgement in Christ Jesus’ glorious and awesome Second Coming. Meatfare Sunday because this is the last day on which we can eat meat before the fasting for Great Lent begins. For the last few weeks in the Church calendar we have been looking towards Lent, seeing it draw nearer on our spiritual horizon, but now it is almost upon us. And that is exciting and joyful, as well as challenging. We should be working on our spiritual state all the time, of course, but Lent is a time that really helps & gives that intense focus. It is a time when we are particularly intent on prayer, charity and fasting. And so, it seemed to me that prayer would be a good topic for this post in the ‘Great Orthodox Christian Quotations’ post series!
I wondered what icon to put with this post, and decided to put an image of an Orthodox prayer rope instead. On the prayer rope we pray ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner’. The orthodoxwiki entry explains prayer ropes so well, that I’ll direct you to its explanation rather than try to give an inferior one of my own! https://orthodoxwiki.org/Prayer_rope
I was listening to an Ancient Faith Radio podcast recently which explained something really helpful about prayer. Prayer is food for our souls, and if we neglect our prayer time we are starving our soul, whereas when we put aside daily time for focused prayer we feed our souls and grow spiritually stronger. I felt this really spoke to my life. I know that when I start skipping daily prayer for a few days (I say to myself I’m too busy, but really I’m being too lazy and not prioritising it highly enough!) I soon start falling into sin a lot and feeling in a terrible mood – it’s a downward spiral! I can see now that this isn’t surprising. When this happens, I’ve been starving my soul and so growing spiritually weak, so little surprise that I lack the strength pretty soon to resist sin and feel in a low mood. I wouldn’t be surprised if I skipped pretty much all my meals for a few days and then felt miserable and struggled even to walk down the street! Prayer is just the same. So I guess perhaps we could even see Lent as a time where we fast, but also as a time where we feast – on prayer 🙂 ?
‘Pray night and day. Pray when you are happy, and pray when you are sad. Pray with fear and trembling, and with a watchful and vigilant mind, that your prayer might be acceptable to the Lord; for as Scripture says, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their appeal.” ‘ – St Theodore the Ascetic
‘You have anxieties about your life… Pray fervently to the Lord from your heart in this way: “I place my fate in Thy hands, O my Saviour. In this way that Thou knowest, arrange my life as is best. From now on I cut off every care about myself, having but one care to do what is pleasing before Thee.” Speak to God in this way, and by doing so you will already have placed yourself completely in His hands, not being concerned about anything, but calmly accepting every sort of situation, pleasant or unpleasant, as being arranged for you purposely by God. Your only concern should be to act according to God’s commandments in everything. That is all that is required of you.’ – St Theophan the Recluse
‘Where there is no prayer and fasting, there are the demons.’ – St Theophan the Recluse
‘The best prayer is: “Lord! Thou knowest all things. Do with me as Thou willest!” – St Theophan the Recluse
‘Prayer should be our first response, not the last hope.’ – Archpriest Andrei Tkachev
‘Do not begin anything that you do in your life without prayer before God and the Mother of God.’ – Elder Cleopa
‘If you only knew how great a blessing comes from the Divine Liturgy, then you would collect even the dust from the floor of the church to wash your faces with it…’ – St Gabriel the Confessor and Fool-for-Christ
‘A sure sign of the deadening of the soul is the avoidance of church services.’ – St John Climacus
‘The highest form of prayer is to stand silently in awe before God.’ – St Isaac the Syrian