Archbishop Stylianos of Australia|
Εκδόσεις Αρμός, Μαυροκορδάτου 7, 106 78 Αθήνα
It has been correctly said that the greatest privilege, but also the greatest problem for the faithful, is prayer.
The truth of this observation is clear, since it has to do with the most unequal and unheard of "relationship", namely communication between created human beings and the uncreated God. This form of communication is first of all impossible and inconceivable, since there is an unbridgeable gap between the corruptible substance of the human person and the supersubstantial and inaccessible God. Yet that which is not possible according to essence, God makes possible and achievable according to His grace and love for humanity.
Whithin the phrase "that whίch is impossible for man is possible for God", we must also include prayer. This means that prayer is not a matter for every person, but rather of the faithful person. There are unfortunately many people who, although they do not directly and categorically reject the existence of God, nonetheless are incapable of accepting any kind of communication with Him, or else the need for and value of such communication. Therefore we do not only have the atheists but also the so-called rationalists who from the outset reject prayer. For this reason, what we shall present here is mainly, if not exclusively, addressed to the faithful. If, in spite of this, it has some influence upon someone who has little faith, or who is a rationalist or atheist, this would of course be due purely to the grace of God, who "does not want the death of sinners, but rather that they should return and live" (cf. Ez. 18:23).
Following this brief introduction, we shall speak here concerning prayer by attempting to present the major points of an enquiry in the context always of Orthodox spiritual life and Tradition.
These points must be presented and looked at in the following order: