Just did my God spot on LGR , talking with Bishop Athanasios on preparing for Christmas with prayer, fasting, confession and communion. It was a chance to revive this old post answering the questions “How do we cultivate this inner life?”
I’m certainly no expert myself, but try to follow the teachings of our Church in this modern world.
Here’s something I use with my adult classes for Orthodox believers:
- Have a Time for Prayer: Make prayer a regular part of your routine – something as regular as brushing your teeth everyday. Set time aside to be with God. Little and often.
- Have a Space for Prayer: Find a private corner where you can have your icons, prayer books, prayer ropes, votive lamp (kantili) etc.
- Use the Bible: Read the Scriptures slowly and prayerfully, drink them in.
- Build up a Prayer ‘library’: Get a prayer book, and collect prayers that you can use. Learn Prayers of the Church. Use the Jesus Prayer.
- Speak from your heart: Use your own prayers and thoughts too. Be comfortable with God.
- Get a spiritual guide: Establish a relationship with a spiritual father, ideally, with your parish priest if he can hear confession. Otherwise, a local priest who can understand your background and situation, and hear your confession.
- Find out about fasting: Fasting trains you up for prayer. Perhaps start with Wednesdays and Fridays, and then attempt the greater fasts. Speak with your spiritual father about this. If you have a medical condition etc. this should be taken into consideration.
- Sanctify all you do: Remember “This is the day that the Lord has made, Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” God isn’t just a part of life, an added extra. Thank God all the time, let Him know your concerns. Dedicate everything to him.
- Use technology to your advantage: You can download the daily readings and saints to your phone calendar, get Orthodox prayer reminders on Twitter, have the daily readings and commentaries e-mailed to you, keep up with Orthodox events on Facebook, listen to Orthodox Radio while you work, and learn much more about the Orthodox Faith using the Internet.
- Join with others in fellowship and enter the life of the Church: Become part of a community. The Church is not a building, but a community of Christians who gather together. It is not the priests and the clergy, it is all of you gathering together. Don’t complain that “The Church” isn’t doing enough – blaming the priests – you are the Church; What are you doing?