Friday, June 09, 2006

why pray?

"We must devote ourselves to prayer. For prayer is like the leader of the chorus of virtues. Through it we ask for the other virtues from God. . . . what pleases God is the rejecting of all idleness of thought and every improper attention to the body in order to deliver the soul over to prayer. . . . In prayer, a person is present with God, for the person who prays is separated from the enemy. Prayer safeguards self-control, controls the temper, restrains pride, cleanses us of malice, overthrows envy, destroys injustice and corrects impiety. Prayer is the strength of our bodies, the prosperity of the home, the good will of the city, the strength of the kingdom, the victory in war, the security of peace, the bringing together of enemies, the preserver of allies. Prayer is the seal of virginity, the pledge of marriage, the shield of the traveler, the guard of those who sleep, the courage of those who keep watch, the productivity of farmers, the deliverance of sailors . . . Prayer is conversation with God, the contemplation of unseen things, the fulfillment of things desired, equal in honor with the angels, the progress of good things, the overthrow of evils, the correction of sinners, the enjoyment of the present and the substance of things hoped for." - Gregory of Nyssa, @385 A.D.

"There is no need to make long prayers, but extend your hands and say, 'Lord, as you will and as you know, have mercy.' If the conflict is urgent within you, say, 'Lord, help me.' He knows what is good for us, and he acts with mercy toward us." - Macarius, @350 A.D.
Source: Inheriting Wisdom: Readings for Today from Ancient Christian Writers by Everett Ferguson, pp.248,250-251