Why pray?


Dmitri Petrov’s Prayer of an Expectant Mother (2005)

Dmitri Petrov’s Prayer of an Expectant Mother (2005)


Prayer is a matter of love. 

Man expresses love through prayer, and if we pray, it is an indication that we love God.  If we do not pray, this indicates that we do not love God, for the measure of our prayer is the measure of our love for God.  St. Silouan identifies love for God with prayer, and the Holy Fathers say that forgetfulness of God is the greatest of all passions, for it is the only passion that will not be fought by prayer through the Name of God.  If we humble ourselves and invoke God’s help, trusting in His love, we are given the strength to conquer any passion; but when we are unmindful of God, the enemy is free to slay us.”    Archimandrite Zacharias  “The Hidden Man of the Heart”

I found the above image and text on a lovely blog that I discovered recently.  A beautifully done, artistic, and soul satisfying site by an Orthodox woman.  I highly recommend that you visit it – and treat it the way that I do, as a “trip” to an art museum.  To a place that fills your soul with color, and words woven together into a symphony of meaning – a place that gives you space and stillness, a place of beauty in a busy world:  http://thehandmaid.wordpress.com/

I was immediately captivated by the above painting.  So many meanings and nuances hidden in each stroke of the artist’s brush.  So much warmth and life in each color chosen.  In the framing of the entire experience. 

Place yourself in the shoes of the woman praying.  “Why is she praying?”  We know very little about her other than she is pregnant.  She is in the Church.  She is praying, most likely in front of the icon of the Blessed Mother Of God, Mary the Theotokos.  She has a small child already, notice him on the back bench against the wall, waiting and sitting patiently, taking in all that an Orthodox Church provides for us in color, design, and holiness.  Indeed to “worship” is simply to walk into an Orthodox Church… the aroma of incense saturates the air, the sweet smell of beeswax and the hypnotic nature of candles burning captivates your soul.  Our one year old son is like this boy in so many ways.  He sits attentively as well in our parish, as he is enthralled with the Words of God , the icons of God, that come to life in the faces, and images of saints and angels, of Christ, of Mary who live all around him!  It is a visual feast for the soul, and a wonderful way to teach children, and all of us, that the place wherein we stand is holy ground.  A sacred place… And he knows that his Mommy, (Matushka) is doing something important with God… and so he sits quietly, reverently, attentively.  In fact, in his attentive silence, he too is praying.

What is she praying for?  For the health of the child in her womb?  For a safe delivery?  For her husband?  For him to find work to provide for the growing family?  Or, perhaps, that her husband will come around to the idea of a new baby, as this little one that she is carrying was “an unexpected” joy.  What she is praying for is not nearly as important as the fact that she is praying.  Standing in the very presence of her God, loving Him, and being loved by Him.

The one thing we do know is that she is right where she needs to be.  In God’s Holy House.  Before the Icon of Mary the Mother of God, who more than any other woman on earth, knew what it was like to suddenly and unexpectantly become pregnant – and in her case with the Son of God.  One mother, before another Mother.  One mother praying for help, for assistance, for grace and mercy, and patience and faith…and one Mother who intercedes, as only a Mother can, with Her Son constantly on behalf of the children that belong to Him.  And, like at the wedding feast of Cana, Mary cares for this woman right here, and right now, who bears a child.  A miracle in her womb.

So why pray?  Because we need love.  Prayer is love.  Love is prayer. 

Stand with this woman right now, and offer a prayer of thanksgiving to our God who not only invites us to prayerful intimacy with Him, but also hears and answers us.

Holy God!  Holy Mighty!  Holy Immortal have mercy on us! 

Holy God!  Holy Mighty!  Holy Immortal have mercy on us!

Holy God!  Holy Mighty!  Holy Immortal have mercy on us!

+ Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto ages of ages.  Amen!

Why do you pray?


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