Morning Prayers At Camp Nazareth
One of the first requests made by the disciples to Jesus was, "Lord, teach us to pray..." (Luke 11:1). The Jewish people of Jerusalem were above all a praying people, and this tradition of prayer was continued by the earliest Christians.
What is prayer? Bishop Theophan, a famous Orthodox spiritual writer of the last century, tells us:" In prayer man converses with God, he enters through grace into communion with Him, and lives in God...Prayer is the raising of the mind and heart to God in praise and thanksgiving to Him and in supplication for the good things we need, both spiritual and physical."
Prayer is the key and cornerstone of our relationship with our Lord. Without prayer, there is no relationship with God. The "Good News" of the Gospel is that the unknowable and faceless God of the Old Testament has revealed Himself to the world; through the Incarnation of Jesus, God now has a "face"; through the Person of Jesus Christ we can enter a personal relationship with God. (John 14:6). Through prayer we can enter into this relationship with God; through prayer He reveals His will to us.
In Orthodox prayer books, you will find many written prayers for different needs. These are the prayers of the righteous men and women of times past, people who were teachers and guides in the spiritual life. They are valuable to teach us how to pray, to give us words to speak because we often don't know what to say in the presence of God. Jesus Himself used such prayers in His life. Among His last words from the Cross is the well-known prayer, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" - the first verse of Psalm 22.
There is no magic formula that will make us spiritual people who are filled with the Holy Spirit. We must make the effort to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, Who was given to each of us at our Baptism and Chrismation. At times we will find it difficult to pray, but if we persevere, the Lord will reward our efforts with the joy of His presence through the Holy Spirit.
The Church Fathers advise us to have a person to help us in our prayer-life. The person who can best help us is our parish priest. Speak with him about having a better and richer relationship with the Lord. Always remember that it is not enough to simply repeat the words of a prayer. Rather, all of our prayers must come from both our mind and our heart. Anything less is simply not prayer.
Through prayer that is sincere and heartfelt, through frequent and worthy reception of the Sacraments, through reading the words of the Lord and Apostles inscribed by the Holy Spirit on the pages of the Scriptures, "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7) - (Adapted from the introduction to the Come to Me Prayer Book published by the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of Johnstown, PA, 1986)
The prayers provided here are for your spiritual edification, to assist you in your quest for spiritual growth and communion with God. They represent excerpts from the Come to Me Prayer Book of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese.