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Ask An Eastern Orthodox Christian: Prayer Groups For Healing

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What would you like to know about the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith? Submit your question.

By Nicholas Damascus

Do you have prayer lists for those suffering in their lives to gain multiple people who are willing to pray for someone struggling with health or depression or say going through a rough time in their lives?

The answer is yes; we do have prayer lists for any and all that are in need and for those that have no apparent need. In our Christian walk, this is a common practice, for we should always pray for one another, believers and non-believers alike.

What is prayer as defined by Eastern Orthodox Christians?

Prayer might be thought of as an open line of communication, a request, a petition for understanding, a plea for help, a supplication, an intercession, a thanksgiving, a confession, and much more. The actual event of prayer is a mystery where one might say it involves the energies of the Holy Spirit of God Who mystically connects man to one another and God.

Art by Otto Greiner Betende

According to the Christian fathers, it is said that there are several levels of prayer. Typically prayer is verbal; however, the highest form of prayer is without words where one descends with the mind into the heart, the center of consciousness of being, to stand “in the Presence” of the Holy Spirit of God. This prayer is often referred to as noetic prayer or prayer in the spirit. “Be still, and know that I AM God;… (Psalm 46:10).

Saint Theophan the Recluse calls the head (mind) “a crowded rag market: it is not possible to pray to God there because there is no end to our uncontrollable thoughts, continually chasing after one another. He tells us that “life is in the heart” and that we must descend there with our mind.”

Prayer of the heart is found in verses of Scripture Matt 6:5-13; Matt 21:22; Rom 8:26; Phil 4:6; I Thess 5:17.  On a further note, if one were to reference in the BibleGateway app and type in “heart thought” or “heart reason,” you would find that there are 30 verses that Christ and others refer to the thoughts and reasoning of the heart.

For Eastern Orthodox Christians, prayer means to think and live our entire life in the Presence of God. One might ask when, where, and how often does one pray? The Orthodox response would be always, everywhere, and at anytime. Prayer is not seen as an obligation or set of rules that need to be followed or legalistically adhered to. It is rather the establishment of an intimate relationship with our Father in Heaven for His glory and the benefit and the edification of our fellowman. It is often said that the path to God most often leads through your fellow man.

And when we pray, we must have discernment to ask for what is in accordance with God’s will. Selfless prayer for others out of humility and great love for all has immense spiritual benefit. These waves of love can be said to bring grace to the person who prays and to the person whom one is praying.

Saint Paul, who urges the Christians of the first century Thessalonica to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) and “be constant in prayer” (Rom. 12:12). If our consciousness is with God throughout the day, our propensity and frequency to sin would be less likely.

An analogy of why prayer is essential could be shown in the relationship and communication between a parent and child. From the parent’s point of view, when a child shares their feelings and experiences asking for help and seeking answers to questions, the situation provides the parent an opportunity to council, share, and teach his child out of love, totally benefitting the child.

From the child’s point of view, the child receives the wisdom of experience and knowledge of the parent that would greatly benefit them. Is this horizontal relationship between parent and child any different than the vertical relationship with our Father in Heaven?  

A daily prayer of supplication.

“Lord, give me the strength to greet the coming day in peace.  Help me in all things to rely on Your holy will. Reveal Your will to me every hour of the day.  Bless my dealings with all people.

Teach me to treat all people who come to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all.

In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings.  In unexpected events, let me not forget that all are sent by You. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others.

Give me the physical and mental strength to bear the labors of this day.  Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray in me…… Amen.”

Nicholas Damascus

About Nicholas Damascus

Nick Damascus is one who seeks to discover and apply the proverbial question of what is truth and wisdom, to fill that gaping hole, to become complete and to become realistically and synergistically functional. In an attempt to live the Christian life, which he says is a definite work in progress, he has discovered that he's created the Christ that fits his lifestyle and agrees with his ego (and boy what an ego, he says), carefully avoiding what God intended him to be.

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