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|Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky|
Orthodox dogmatic theology
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The outward side of prayer.
Prayer is the offering of the mind and heart to God. However, while we are living in the
body upon earth, our prayer naturally is expressed in various outward forms: bows and prostrations,
the sign of the Cross, the lifting up of the hands, the use of various objects in the Divine
services, and all the outward actions of the public Divine services of Orthodox Christians.
The Christian worship of God, in its highest state, is worship “in spirit and in truth” (John
4:23-24). The Christian Divine services are incomparably more exalted than the Old Testament
ones. Although the Old Testament services were instituted according to the command of God
Himself (Exodus 25:40), still they served only as “the example and shadow of heavenly things”
(Heb. 8:5). They were done away with as “decayed and grown old” and near to “vanishing away”
(Heb. 8:13) with the institution of the New Testament, which was sanctified by the holy Blood of
the Lord Jesus Christ. The Divine services of the New Testament consist not in constant sacrifices
of calves and rams, but in the prayer of praise, thanksgiving, and petition, in the offering of
the Bloodless Sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, and in the bestowing of grace in the
However, Christian prayer has also various outward actions. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself
did not avoid the outward manifestations of prayer and sacrifice actions: He bowed the knee, fell
on His face and prayed; He raised His hands and blessed; He breathed and said to His disciples:
“Peace be to you;” He used outward actions when healing; He visited the Temple in Jerusalem
and called it “the house of My Father:” “My house shall be called the house of prayer” (Matt.
21:13). The Apostle also did all these things.
Spiritual worship must be accompanied by bodily worship, as a result of the close bond and
mutual influence of soul and body. “What! Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy
Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a
price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
A Christian is called to glorify God not only with his soul and in his body, but everything
surrounding him also he must direct to the glorification of the Lord “Whether therefore ye eat, or
drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). One should sanctify by
prayer not only oneself but also that which we make use of “For every creature of God is good,
and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of
God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:4-5). The Christian is called consciously to aid towards the end that
around him, in his hands, and in his consciousness there might be realized the call of the Psalm:“Let every breath and every creature praise the Lord.” This is done by the Orthodox Christian
Divine services, taken in their wholeness.