It seems like a simple thing, yet one of the most frequent questions raised by Orthodox Christians is the basic question, how should I pray?
Every Orthodox Christian should have a daily rule of prayer, which should be established with the advice of a priest or spiritual father. This is the basis of daily prayers – morning and evening, the very minimum to keep us in some degree of communion with Christ.
But what about other, everyday needs? What about the crises and opportunities that arise in our lives? How do we turn these events into opportunities for prayer, and gain God’s help in everyday life?
• We can find great help in calling out to God, “Lord, help me!”, or “Lord, have mercy on me!”, at any time of need;
• We can (and should) ask the friends of God – the saints – to pray for us by reading an Akathist to a saint who sympathizes with our situation. These are read at church, and can also be read at home (email the priest if you don’t have a copy of a desire Akathist);
• We should use the prayer rope, not just for the Jesus Prayer, but also to repeat 50-100 times “Lord, have mercy on (Name)”, whenever we know of someone in sickness or need: a simple prayer that goes straight to God;
• For special needs, travel, and projects, we should ask the priest to pray or to serve a moleben (a service of prayer) dedicated to our specific need.
As we enter the Great Fast, let us not make the assumption that prayer is too hard and too remote for everyday life. Without it, we’re alone.