(JC) “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I would not be delivered to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not from here.”
(PP) “Are You a king then?”
(JC) You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
John 18:36, 37
Why am I on the journey toward the Orthodox Christian faith? One reason is prayer. In the ancient tradition, prayer is our means to not only communicate with God, but to become more like him. The practice is to become a part of who we are. This is evident in our Lord who prayed early in the morning, late in the evening, often alone, even in times of agony. The Apostle Paul exhorted early believers to pray without ceasing. From these and other examples, the early fathers from Anthony, Gregory Palamas, and even the American Seraphim Rose urged believers to have a daily discipline of prayer. The Jesus Prayer, Hours, and various monastic rules were developed to instruct Orthodox Christians in this vital exercise of working out our faith in fear and trembling. The church has a 2,000 year library of written prayers that anyone can use to help them with their own.
Western Christendom, in this nation in particular, has nothing to match Orthodoxy in prayer. Too often, we just say a few sentences referring to our wants and needs and those of whom we care about. With the Baptist concept of “Soul Liberty,” we and other Protestant churches do not have denominational-wide established rules nor collections of prayers. While local pastors may teach about the importance of being in communion with God, we are free to “talk to God” as we wish any way that feels good to us. As a result, we too often cheapen the practice.
Today, I saw how the 700 Club has cheapened the Savior to an awful low. Pat Robertson and his host announced that the will be engaged in a special “America for Jesus 2012” drive from now until election day. And let me quickly say that there are many believers in a liberal form of the Gospel who will, no doubt, have prayer vigils from Sunday, November 4th to Tuesday, November 6th. I can’t help but to ask if this nation still needs prayer after the election is over, if not more so. Christians on the left and right have decided to drag our Lord and Savior on their side rather than submit to the fact that He and His kingdom is above all of us.
How pathetic! You aren’t praying for “Thy will be done.” You are praying for your own will and choice in elected officials. James, the first Bishop of Jerusalem warned us against such prayers:
You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amis, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend to the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:2-5)
By pinning inordinate prayers on Barack Obama (who rejects Orthodox teaching on marriage) or Mitt Romney (who practices the heresy of Mormonism) you have chosen your politics over the Savior of our souls. Shame on you! It is one thing to have a political opinion. It is another to make a crusade of prayer supporting it. May God forgive you for such an awful perception of prayer.