What is prayer?


We bring you a short treatise on prayer from the latest 57th issue of the Herald. We hope you like it. The Herald will be available for download soon.

Check out what Fr Milorad said about prayer at the Akathist this evening.

What is prayer?

Any increase in the depth of existence, any perception of mystery in the presence of love or beauty or of death, leads to prayer.

Yet for there to be prayer in the Christian sense of the word a specifically personal relationship has to be established with living God, a ‘conversation’. The word should be taken in a broad sense. It may be silent listening, a cry of distress, a celebration; it may also be Job’s plaintive challenge.

The disposition we need to cultivate, even when care weighs heaviest, is that of remembering that God exists and loves us; that we are not alone, lost, ridiculous in presence of nothingness or horror; that there is Another whom we may ap-proach in union with Christ, in him, in the depths of our being.

Prayer and theology are inseparable. True theology is the adoration offered by the intellect. The intellect clarifies the movement of prayer, but only prayer can give it the fervour of the Spirit. Theology is light, prayer is fire. Their union expresses the union of the intellect and the heart. But it is the intellect that must ‘repose’ in heart, and theology must transcend in love.

When intellect is filled with love towards God, it tears this world of death apart, it breaks away from images, passions, reasoning, in order to be no longer anything but gratitude and joy. For it experiences, in this way, victory over death.

Olivier Clément, The Roots of Christian Mysticism