On Prayer III: When Should We Pray?

The majority of people are not able to pray during the course of the day, for which reason one needs to find a time, even if a short one, when one can remember God.
We are pleased to announce the beginning of a new series on prayer, transcribed from television episodes presented on Russian television in the spring of 1999 by Fr. (now Metropolitan) Hilarion (Alfeyev) with the blessing of His Holiness, the late Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia. We hope to present three sections a week, each of which is relatively brief but substantial, for a total of thirty-two episodes.
On Prayer III: When Should We Pray?

Continued from part II.

When and how long should one pray? The Apostle Paul writes: Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). St. Gregory the Theologian writes: “One needs to remember God more often than one breathes.” Ideally, the Christian’s entire life should be imbued with prayer.

Many troubles, sorrows, and tribulations come about because people forget about God. There are criminals who are believers, but at the moment of committing their crimes they did not think about God. It is hard to imagine someone who would commit a murder or theft while thinking about the all-seeing God, from Whom no evil is hidden. And man commits all sin precisely at such times that he does not remember God.

The majority of people are not able to pray during the course of the day, for which reason one needs to find a time, even if a short one, when one can remember God.

In the morning you wake up with thoughts about what needs to get done that day. Before you begin work and getting immersed in the inevitable bustle, dedicate at least a few minutes to God. Stand before God and say: “Lord, Thou hast given me this day; help me to spend it without sin, without blemish; keep me from all evil and misfortune.” And invoke God’s blessing on the day that is beginning.

Throughout the course of the entire day, strive to remember God more frequently. If you do not feel well, turn to Him with prayer: “Lord, I am not well; help me.” If you feel well, say to God: “Lord, glory to Thee; I thank Thee for this joy.” If you are worried about someone, tell God: “Lord, I am worried for him; I am concerned about him; help him.” And so forth throughout the course of the day: whatever happens to you, put it into prayer.

When the day has come to an end and you are ready for bed, remember the past day, thank God for all good things that have taken place, and offer repentance for all those unworthy deeds and sins that you have committed during the day. Ask for God’s help and blessing for the coming night. If you learn to pray like this over the course of every day, you will soon notice how much sounder your life will become.

People often justify their reluctance to pray by the fact that they are too busy and are overloaded with things to do. Yes, many of live in sort of rhythm unlike that of people of antiquity. Sometimes we have to do a great number of things over the course of the day. But in life there are always certain pauses. For example, we might stand at the bus stop for three to five minutes; if we take the train, for twenty or thirty minutes. We dial a number and get a busy signal – another few minutes. Let us at least use these pauses for prayer; let it at least not be wasted time.

To be continued.

Translated from the Russian

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