The way we are with our Lord is that we are always tormented and the Lord always heals us. It is not for us to wonder why we are like this– why we are in suffering, why we exist in suffering. Divine inspiration does not give an answer to this question. It does not say why we are subjected to pain, to pain of the body, to pain of the soul, to pain of the conscience. The Divine Scripture is content to observe this and to start off on this basis in order to reveal to us how we can leave this suffering, how we can bear it and change it into the power to create and approach God, turning it into a ladder by which we go up to heaven.
In the Divine Scripture we have promises of healing, and of sure salvation from sin. When he promised the joy and revealed the life that will come when we accept the mystery of God and obey him in all the afflictions of the world that we taste, whether in spirit or in body. When we are in such a state, in torment like what those who sought healing from the Lord were in, we cry out like them: “Lord, have mercy!”
“Son of David, have mercy on me.” “Lord have mercy on my son, for he suffers greatly…” We observe that all these words are seeking mercy, which is more comprehensive than healing. When we ask for healing, most of us ask for healing of the body, which is something good, but we have not reached the point of suffering from sin leaking in to us, so we ask for it to be removed from us and we remain Christ’s. What is our stance toward the stricken after we fall into evil, after darkness engulfs our souls? What prayer do we pray? Do we trust that God Himself will come down to us if we pray? Do we know that God wants us to speak to Him? For us to enter into dialogue with Him?
Naturally, God is capable of responding at all times, and he responds effectively if we ask or if we do not ask because He knows all our needs. However, the Lord prefers for us to speak to Him so that we might be trained in His friendship. He asks this boldness of us, the boldness of children with their Father. This is what we ask him in the Divine Liturgy, before we recite the Lord’s Prayer, when we say, “And make us worthy, O Lord, that with boldness we may call You Father…”
God wants to be among us, to be friendly with us, so that we might know that we have risen to the rank of divinity and so we might realize that God has come down to the rank of humanity. If God has come down to our souls as they are, as we know them to be, in their weakness, in their disgrace, in their filthiness, if God visits these souls then He is their Healer.
The problem of modern, contemporary man is that he is content with himself because he has made puppets, toys that he plays with and he thinks that this is enough, especially if he has acquired some wealth and spared himself hard living and so closes himself off and does not ask about anything. This is mankind’s evil in this generation that we are in and for this reason the Lord says, “You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?” (Matthew 17:17). If a person completely closes all the windows to himself, he suffocates because he cannot breathe. When we are content with toys that we have made, we close the window to heaven on ourselves and we suffocate. People do not only suffocate through their lungs. Their mind also freezes, their heart withers, their conscience goes idle and they spiritually die.
What is prayer before this situation? Prayer is us opening the windows when we feel shut in. It is us opening the windows of the heart to heaven so that God can visit our souls. Only then are we able to live.
Prayer is breathing. If we are certain of this, we can conquer all the world’s trials because our spirits will be filled with the air of grace.