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|Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky|
Orthodox dogmatic theology
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The spiritual bond of the members of the Church.
Prayer is the manifestation of the Church’s life and the spiritual bond of its members with
God in the Holy Trinity, and of all with each other. It is so inseparable from faith that it may be
called the atmosphere of the Church or the breathing of the Church. Prayers are the threads of the
living fabric of the Church body, and they go in all directions. The bond of prayer penetrates the
whole body of the Church, leading each part of it into the common life of the body, animating
each part and helping it by nourishing, by cleansing, and by other forms of mutual he1p (Eph.
4:16). It unites each member of the Church with the Heavenly Father, the members of the earthly
Church with each other, and the earthly members with the heavenly members. It does not cease,
but yet more increases and is exalted in the Heavenly Kingdom.
Through the whole Sacred Scripture of the New Testament there goes the commandment of
ceaseless prayer: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17);“praying a1ways with all prayer and
supplication in the Spirit” (Eph 6:18); “and He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men
ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1).
The perfect example of personal prayer was given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
He left as an example the prayer, “Our Father” — the Lord s Prayer. Prayer is a) the form of the
Church's life, b) an instrument or means of its activity, and c) its power of overcoming.
Prayer is of two kinds: public and private. There is prayer which is of words, and in particular
sung, and there is mental prayer, that is, inward prayer, or the prayer of the mind in the heart.
The content of prayer is: a) praise or glory; b) thanksgiving, c) repentance; d) entreaty for the
mercy of God, for the forgiveness of sins, for the giving of good things of soul and body, both
heavenly and earthly. Repentance before God sometimes has the form of a conversation with
one's own soul — as, for example, often occurs in the canons (Not, of course, the canons or rules of
councils, but the canons, usually composed of nine canticles or odes, which are a regular part of the services of Matins
and Compline, or may be read or sung privately).
Prayer may be for oneself or for others. Prayer for each other expresses the mutual love between
members of the Church. Since, according to the Apostle, love never faileth (1 Cor. 13:8),
the earthly members of the Church not only pray for each other, but also, according to the law of
Christian love, they pray also for those who are departed (the heavenly members); and the heavenly
members likewise pray for those on earth, as well as for the repose of their brethren who are
in need of the he1p of prayer. Finally, we ourselves appeal to those in heaven with the entreaty to
pray for us and for our brethren. Upon this bond of the heavenly with the earthly is founded also
the concern of the angels over us and our prayers to them.The power of prayer for others is constantly affirmed by the word of God. The Saviour said
to the Apostle Peter: “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:32). The holy
Apostle Paul often entreats Christians to pray for him:” I trust that through your prayers I shall
be given unto you” (Philemon, v. 22). “Brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord might
have free course and be glorified, even as it is with you” (2 Thes. 3:l). Being far away, the Apostle
is joined with his spiritual brethren in common prayer. “Now I beseech yon, brethren, for the
Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your
prayers to God for me” (Rom. 15:30). The Apostle James instructs: "Pray one for another, that
ye may be healed; for the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James
5:16). St John the Theologian saw in revelation how in the heavens twenty-four elders, standing
at the throne of God, fell down before the Lamb, and everyone had harps and vials filled with
incense, “which are the prayers of saints” (Rev. 5:8); that is they raised up the prayers of the
saints on earth to the Heavenly Throne.