THE RULE OF PRAYER
Prayer is a very, very, very important and expansive topic. My purpose with this post is to share with you what is "the rule of prayer". It is with the "rule of prayer" that the Christian begins to develop a "life of prayer". It is the "rule of prayer" that informs our life, our faith, and our deeper prayer life. Let us consider what prayer is.
Theophan the Recluse (19th c. Russian Bishop) said, "Prayer is the test of everything. If prayer is right, everything is right". My prayer is that we get "it" right. Orthodoxy means "right belief, right praise/prayer". Orthopraxis means "right practice". (These terms; Orthodoxy and orthopraxis are words of the Ancient Church, ie. the early church. I hope to introduce you to many terms that will bring illumination to the Scriptures). Prayer is many things; it is the "way to knowledge", the way to knowing God and knowing yourself. Prayer is communion with God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Prayer is plunging into darkness where the light is. Prayer is drinking at the well of salvation. Prayer is worship. Prayer is confession; of our faith, and of our sins. Prayer is uniting our hearts to God. Prayer is the fusion of two actions - ours, and the Divine. Prayer is reciting the Psalms. Prayer is entering into the eternal Now, into the kingdom of God. Now, briefly, WHAT PRAYER IS
NOT > James 4:1-10 > Prayer is not for selfish purposes. Prayer is not meant to be a means to acquire self-centered pleasures. Prayer is not to be based on covetousness, desiring what others have(verses 2 & 3). To pray in this way is to be unfaithful to God, to make yourself the enemy of God(verse 4). It is a problem of pride(verse 6) that leads you to pray for things of this world for the sake of pleasures. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Prayer is submitting yourself to God which is how you resist the devil. Prayer is drawing near to God in humility, Prayer is for cleansing our hands. Prayer is for purifying our hearts. Prayer is for being cured of double-mindedness. Prayer is for tearful repentance. Prayer is for Humility, for opening your life to the eyesight of the Lord. And then, Glory be to God, God will lift you up(verse 10)!!!
Matthew 6:5-15 > HOW TO PRAY WHEN YOU PRAY(Luke 11:1-4) > Firstly, Jesus says, WHEN YOU PRAY, "you shall not be like the hypocrites."(verse 5) Hypocrites are play-actors who specialize in theatrical piety. They put on "the mask" of compassion, but are heartless; they put on "the mask" of humility, but are full of pride; they put on "the mask" of faith, but are clouds without water. > Secondly, Jesus says, WHEN YOU PRAY, "enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, Pray to the Father..."(Verse 6) > "closet" in the Greek is tameion = inner, private, chamber, your secret chamber > Strong's Concordance says in a home in the Orient a "spot for retirement" > You shut yourself in and the world out > It's just you and God > Some would say this "closet/bed chamber you enter is in your heart > That, WHEN YOU PRAY, your mind descends into your heart, into "the secret place" > Thirdly, Jesus says, WHEN YOU PRAY, "do not use vain
repetitions as the heathen do. For they think they will be heard for their many words" > The NIV says, "do not keep on babbling as the pagans do" > In the Greek, "vain" is "maten", which means "tentative manipulation", "to no purpose", "folly", the base Greek word gives the idea of handling or squeezing (Strongs Concordance) > So "vain" does not mean prayers cannot be repeated, "vain" has to do with pagan practices of manipulating the gods with babbling repetitions that will cajole the gods into action. > Repetition is not vain per se, and it is not repetition which Jesus condemns, but "vain repetitions" which he condemns > Fourthly, Jesus says, "After this manner therefore pray, Our Father..." > Jesus establishes that God is our Father(Romans 8:14-16) > When we pray we enter into communion with God the Father who is above the heavens, we enter into a heavenly dimension, and step into an eternal NOW(1 Timothy 1:17, Hebrews 11:1) > Hallowed/Holy is His name - God is revealed in His name(s) - Holy is that "thing" about God that means "transcendent perfection" that cannot be described in human language, or will ever be comprehended(verse 9) > We pray for His kingdom to be actualized in the here and now "by the Spirit" and for his kingdom to be revealed at His second coming > We pray for God's will(verse 10) > We pray for our "daily bread", but this bread is much more than the food we need
for the day - "daily" in the Greek is "epiousios" which intimates bread for "tomorrows" (Strongs), - "epiousios" literally means "above the essence" or "supersubstantial" - So the bread we are praying for is more than the food we eat today, but it is the bread for the eternal day of the kingdom of God - the Living Bread, Christ Himself(verse 11) > We pray for God's forgiveness of everyone including ourselves and we forgive everyone as well(verse 12) > We not only pray that we not yield to temptation, we pray that we be delivered from the evil one who is the temptor - KJV says "deliver us from evil", the NKJV and NIV says, "deliver us from the evil one".
*** "The Lord's Prayer shows the whole meaning of the life of man.", Archbishop Anthony Bloom
NOTE: The Lords Prayer is a prayer that we can pray daily, since Jesus said, "Give us this day our DAILY bread". We need the Living bread every day so we pray this prayer everyday. It is a beautiful repetition, not a vain repetition!!! This is what is meant by a "rule of prayer": that prayers written in scripture or prayers based upon scriptural truth are placed into a litany, ie., a list, so that we can recite them daily. We are to have regular set times of prayer which we never skip - "in the evening and in the morning and at noon day" (Psalm 55:17). Once we recite these prayers long enough they will be lodged in our memories. These "written" or "said" prayers will form Christ and His truth in us as well as inform our extemporaneous prayers. Then in between these set times of prayer we "remain constant in prayer"(Romans 12:12) and "pray without ceasing"(1 Thessalonians 5:17). > Each person should have their own rule of prayer, it should be brief and regular, It could be a 3-minute prayer rule, 5-minute, or 10-minute. Start slowly and add to your prayers as you grow accustomed to the habit of prayer. You can use the time-tested prayers of the ancient Church or create your own litany from prayers you may know or from scripture. I will provide some web links below with prayers > The idea is to start and do your best and if you fall short just get back up and start again > It's all about his mercy and not our performance > Also, it can be helpful to find a spiritual guide to help answer questions and provide direction.
***I use prayers from the Ancient Church Prayer books, but I have also created a few prayers of my own which are meaningful to me. Ideally you would have a "closet", a "room", a "space" set aside in your home for a "prayer corner". You could have a Wall-Cross, icons, Your Bible, candles, etc, items that will transform the space into Holy ground!!! Besides your "rule of prayer" at home, you should strive to live in a spirit of unceasing prayer, often saying or singing a prayer that comes to mind or praying intercessory prayers for people who come to mind.
A Rule of Prayer
In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Blessed be our God always, now and forever and unto ages of ages.
Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed. Save me, O Lord, and I shall be saved.
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (Repeat 3 times while crossing yourself)
O Heavenly Father, forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner, and enlighten my darkness.
O Holy Spirit, Comforter, Teach us your truth, and lead us into paths of righteousness.
O Holy God, Holy Trinity, Come and abide in us and heal all our infirmities for thy Names Sake.
Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven; give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O Lord, by thy grace.
I believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages, Light of Light, True God of True God, begotten and not made, of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made, who for us men and our salvation, came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God Almighty, and He shall come again to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom shall have no end. And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets, and I believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge One baptism for the remission of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come, Amen.
Remember us O Lord when you come into your kingdom:
Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in spirit for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.
Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
You are the salt of the earth.
You are the Light of the world.
Remember O Lord, when you come into your kingdom: Laura, Vince, Jean, Vince, Evangeline, Micah, Faith, Christian, etc, etc. (List here the names of those you want to pray for)
And grant to each one of them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus the Messiah; enlightening the eyes of their understanding to know what is the hope of His calling.
Direct their hearts into the love of God; strengthening each one of them with all might, by your Spirit, in the inner man; filling them with fruits of righteousness, and filling them with the exact knowledge of your will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.
Establish their hearts in grace and truth; and may Christ Jesus dwell in their hearts by faith.
Amen. Amen. Amen.
***Note > That the entire rule of prayer is Scripture or Scriptural truth***
***Note > "The above rule of prayer" is my morning rule of prayer. I add other Psalms or hymns as well. Depending on time, you can have scripture readings afterwards.***
NOTE > The above "rule of prayer" can be shortened to fit your situation. The important thing is to establish a set time for your "rule of prayer".
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