Prayer as a Christian Discipline
St. Benedict Orthodox Church
Celebrating in the Western Rite
of the Antiochian Jurisdiction
“[Jesus said unto His disciples]: ‘Verily, Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the
Father in my Name, He will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my Name: ask, and
ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” [John 16:23-24]

As we have said in recent sermons, one of the points of the lessons for Sundays in
Paschaltide is a reiteration of some of the fundamental points of Christian Discipleship:
Faith, following Jesus as the Good Shepherd, etc. Today’s Gospel lesson begins by
addressing an aspect of prayer, i.e., that God DOES answer our prayers. There are other
important points found in the Gospel reading for today, but I want to focus on the general
issue of prayer.

It seems to be a common cliché, these days, to assure someone who is grieving or hurting
that “you are in my thoughts and prayers.” When these words issue from someone not
known to be much interested in matters of faith, it is likely that the words mean something
more akin to “I think repeatedly about how sad your situation is.”

When we address prayer in the Christian life, it is important that we always remember that
we not allow our notion of “prayer” to be relegated to the status of empty phrases. Prayer is
a staple of Christian discipleship. If it can be said that “faith without works is lifeless as a
corpse,” [James 2:17, 20, 26], then I would add that Christianity without prayer is also
equally dead [or at least inert].
We must always remember that our “work” as Christians, our duty, if you will, is to do what
Adam failed to do. He was to be an intermediary between God and creation; when humans
fell into sin and God called a special people from out of the mass of fallen humanity, this
special people was to be intermediaries between God and fallen man. This was the work of
Adam and the expected work of those called by God, in essence, the intended work of ALL
humans. That work is to be done through prayer, on behalf of all and for all. To engage this
work is to begin to fulfill one’s place in the “priesthood” of the faithful [1 Peter. 2:5].

Having said that, I want to say some things today, as a reiteration, about the discipline and
attitude of prayer. These are not the totality of prayer but a starting point.
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The Orthodox Church is evangelical, but not Protestant.
It is orthodox, but not Jewish. It is catholic, but not Roman.
It is not non-denominational, it is pre-denominational.
It has believed, taught, preserved, defended, and died for the Faith of the Apostles
since the Day of Pentecost nearly 2000 years ago in 33 A.D.
St. Benedict of Nursia Orthodox Church
St. Benedict of Nursia Orthodox Church