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What is Prayer?

Words from Matta El Meskeen Prayer is a Human Response to a Divine Call “Prayer that is spiritual and genuine is both a call and a response: a divine call and a human response. This definition of prayer rests on an important fact: Prayer does not reach its power and efficacy as an actual communion with God until man is fully aware that his soul is created in God’s image. He should feel that it derives its very being from him. In this being, nothing is more vital than this self-awareness. Once man’s soul becomes sure of this, it will have laid hold of the source of such awareness – which is God. Thus the soul realizes, sees, and touches God’s self” (21). Repentance is the Purpose of Prayer “Thus, prayer begins on God’s part as a secret call to stand before him. We then carry it as a free response in our yearning to speak with him. Afterward, prayer assumes its divine purpose as an act of repentance and purification.n It subsequently attaints its ultimate goal as a sacrifice of love and humility that prepares us for fellowship with God” (23). Life Without Prayer is Meaningless Wandering “Although prayer is a spiritual sense implanted in man’s soul, in the very core of its self-consciousness, many people never pray. Prayer thus remains dormant for a whole lifetime. A man may die without ever having been aware of the self or of its affinity to God. St. Jude the Apostle described such souls as ‘wandering stars for whom the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved for ever” (Jude 13). This is a very serious matter. Prayer is not merely a sense to be used to organize our lives in this age alone. It is implanted in our nature that, through it, we may ascend to God and achieve union with him” (23). A Mind Concentrate on God “[In prayer] we ought soberly to have an attentive mind, waiting expectantly on God until he comes and visits the soul by means of all of its openings and its paths and sense. And so we should be silent when we ought and to pray with a cry, just as long as the mind is concentrate on God…so also the soul should be totally concentrated on asking and on a loving movement toward the Lord, not wandering and dispersed by its thoughts but with concentration wait expectantly for Christ” ~ St. Macarius the Great (25). Prayer is an Act of Glorifying God “When we delve deeply into the life of prayer, we end up with the conviction that it is an act of glorifying God, a divine ministry of transcendent honor. This was the conclusion reached by all the saints at the end of their understanding and practical experience of prayer” (27). Prayer is Abandonment to God’s Will “The foundation of prayer is paying absolute honor to God’s will: ‘Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ For this reason, prayer inevitably demands that man relinquish his own will: ‘Not my own will, but thine be done’ (Lk. 22.42). Total surrender to the will of God is an entry into a covenant with him. This is done in preparation for our final union with his will…When faithfully performed for hallowing the name of God, prayer takes upon itself, with grace as a mediator, to turn us into saints” (27). Raise Your Thoughts “I have received this great fiery Spirit: receive him now yourselves. If you wish to receive him that he may dwell in you, first offer hard labors of the flesh and humility of the heart. Raise your thoughts up to heaven night and day. Ask in uprightness of heart for this fiery Spirit and he will then be given you…Persist in prayer diligently, with all your heart, and he will be given you, for this Spirit dwells in upright hearts. He will reveal to you higher mysteries and other things which I cannot express in ink and paper…Celestial joy will then be your portion day and night” ~ St. Antony the Great (29).

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