Entering God's Kingdom


 

Why Should I Pray

by Fr. Michael Keiser


Personal prayer is our own private time with our Father. Everyone feels the need for a little personal attention at times, and in prayer we get that; but it never replaces our worship in church. The oneness of being in the Body of Christ, united in faith and love with other believers, is both glorious and necessary. But an individual relationship with God is just as important. In order to be a complete Christian one must relate to the members of the Body of Christ together, and relate to God as a person. St. John of Kronstadt (1829–1908) wrote, “Why is it necessary to pray at home, and to attend divine services in church? Well, why is it necessary for you to eat and drink, to take exercise, or to work every day? In order to support the life of the body and strengthen it.” Worship and prayer are the food and drink, the work and workout, of our life with God.  ...read more

 

The Goal of Earthly Life: Prayer

by Fr. Touma Bitar

 

You do not needs techniques in prayer. It comes to you of itself when you insist on standing in the presence of God and when your Lord gives you what you ask. God seeks communion and calls you to Him and when you take a step in His direction, He leads you to Him, just as a father takes the hand of his child or a guide walks ahead of a traveler. Nothing is closer to the human heart than prayer. Man is put together to be a being of prayer. At the deepest level, man realizes his humanity in which God created him in prayer. Why does the heart not incline to it spontaneously from the very beginning? Because the passions of the soul and the body have murdered man's heart and taken control of it. For this very reason at the beginning a person needs to force himself to prayer, and then his heart will welcome it and take joy in it because it matches what is deeply rooted in him, even if it was hidden at first.  ...read more

 

Using the Jesus Prayer

by Fr. Dn. Charles Joiner


“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

 

This prayer has the potential to transform your consciousness and bring you closer to God. It is a prayer rooted deeply in the tradition of the Church. It is a prayer to be repeated over and over, many times. You can begin to develop the use of this prayer by incorporating a number of repetitions in your daily prayer rule. It is a simple prayer and you can learn to say it everywhere and at any time. In fact, your aim should be to make it an unending prayer. In this way your whole life becomes a life of prayer.

 

Recognize, however, that this prayer is incredibly difficult to practice even though it seems to be very simple. In its practice, you continually recite it so that it permeates your heart and focuses your mind, predisposing you to follow God’s will instead of your own ego-directed will.  ...read more

 

 

Monasticism: The Angelic Evangelic Life

by Fr. Steven Salaris


Almighty God has gifted Orthodox Christianity with monasticism. It is the “alternative lifestyle” of Orthodoxy to which some, but not all, are called. Many sources state that the monastic life is the angelic life. Going one step further, some sources even state that God has replaced the angelic ranks that fell with Satan with the men and women who have been called to the angelic (that is, monastic) life.

 

When we think of monasticism, several images and ideas come to mind – such as monasteries, the prayer life, and asceticism. But what about evangelism? Does the angelic life have a connection with the evangelical life that we Orthodox Christians are supposed to be living daily (especially those of us in the “front lines” – in our parishes and in the secular world)?  ...read more


The Spiritual Director: A Guide and Mentor

by Khalil Samara


“A brother asked Abba Poemen, ‘Some brothers live with me; do you want me to be in charge of them?’ The old man said to him, ‘No, just work first and foremost, and if they want to live like you, they will see to it themselves.’ The brother said to him, ‘But it is they themselves, Father, who want me to be in charge of them.’ The old man said to him, ‘No, be their example, not their legislator.’”


This anecdote from the Sayings of the Desert Fathers speaks about the relationship between the spiritual child and the spiritual director. Abba Poemen tells his brother that he should not be the legislator for others but rather lead them by example. He suggests that the brother will teach and guide his disciples through his own actions and how he leads his own life. This is a model that spiritual directors in society, outside of a monastic setting, could also employ to guide and teach their spiritual children.  ...read more

 

 

The Beatitudes

by a monk of St. Tikhon’s Monastery, in The Holy Orthodox Church: Her Life and Teachings, Copyright 1986 by the St. Tikhon Seminary Press


The Beatitudes can be viewed as a single system a ladder ascending in virtues. Christ calls us first of all to acquire spiritual poverty, and meekness, and only then to rise step by step to the summit of spiritual perfection. Man becomes aware of his poverty of spirit from the moment when the summoning and illumining grace takes effect within him. The first thing revealed to the spiritual infant is his helplessness the incompatibility of his present spiritual state with that to which he is being summoned. The human spirit is the chief motivating force of our salvation, for we are bound to God, not by the soul, but by the spirit, and it is not through the soul, but through the spirit that God’s good will descends upon us.  ...read more

The Orthodox Understanding of Sin

by Fr. George Morelli


In the first chapter of Genesis we read that man is made in God's image and called to be like Him. The image, the Church Fathers say, is mainly our intelligence and free will. God so loved us, He sent His only begotten Son for our salvation (John 3:16).

 

If we put on Christ at baptism and continue to wash ourselves through repentance, then we are able to reflect the light of Christ. Our constant prayer is "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner." We are creatures. We have no independent existence. We depend on God for all and by his mercy we can have the light of Christ indwell in us. This is a spiritual reality revealed by Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The value of this is unfathomable.  ...read more


 

Ten Steps to a Better Prayer Life


Designate A Prayer Space: Whether it is in the corner of your desk or a little stand in your room, it is important to have a place where you can put your Bible, Icons, etc. Dedicate the use of that space for God alone.

Acquire A Time: Incorporate prayer in your routine and set time aside to center your thoughts to God.

Acquire A Library: Start with a Bible, then get a small Orthodox Prayer Book, after that start collecting books.

...read more

 

Attaining the Kingdom of Heaven

by His Eminence Archbishop Joseph


How do we attain the Kingdom of Heaven? Where is it to be found? It is very easy for us in the Western world to view this Kingdom as something that one attains as a final destination or ending of a journey. As Orthodox Christians, we believe that the Kingdom of Heaven is Christ Himself, not a physical place or location.

It is within Christ that the Kingdom is to be experienced. For this reason, we cannot think of the Kingdom as something we are either “in” or “out” of. Through baptism and a life of repentance, we participate in the Life of Christ, and thus we participate in the Kingdom. The Kingdom is a dynamic state, wherein we grow in perfection through God’s grace. Our journey is not to the Kingdom, our journey is in the Kingdom.  ...read more

 

 

Upward, Inward

by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip

 

...to become more conscious and aware is not here the value in itself; “increased consciousness” is not the aim at all. Rather, it is “pivotal” in the sense that it takes us to something beyond itself. Through increased consciousness we are attempting to develop a relationship with our depths as a way of touching what is shining through them as a transparency of Divinity, that is, the light of another being and life. Thus, what we seek is not an “experience,” but God Himself. What is important is not an emotional, psychological, physical, or otherwise experience, but that our receptivity may be increased. The goal is clearly communion with the Divine; this is what we must seek to “experience.”...  ...read more

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