Praying with humility
Praying with Humility: Our "Cell Phone" to the Heavenly Father (by Dcn. Michael Schlaack)
Throughout the Gospels Jesus taught in parables. The word we translate as parable in English is the Greek word parabolhn, which literally means in English, “Beside-Cast,” and is meant to convey the act of laying something next to another object for the purpose of comparison. And this is exactly what Jesus does as He describes certain aspects of the Kingdom of God. In the case of today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is dealing with prayer, and more specifically, humble prayer.
A good place for us to start when considering humble prayer and its impact on our lives is to simply ask ourselves, “How’s my prayer life?” There is a beautiful quote from the 19th century Russian monk and bishop, St. Theophan the Recluse, which helps us to redirect our focus towards our prayer life;
Let me recall a wise custom of the ancient Holy Fathers: when greeting each other, they did not ask about health or anything else, but rather about prayer, saying “How is your prayer?” The activity of prayer was considered by them to a be a sign of the spiritual life, and they called it the breath of the spirit. If the body has breath, it lives; if breathing stops, life comes to an end. So it is with the spirit. If there is prayer, the soul lives; without prayer, there is no spiritual life.”
Take a couple of minutes to really consider what St. Theophan is saying here. To the ancient Holy Fathers, prayer was as necessary as breathing. If your ability to breathe is in any way hindered, you suffer a slow death. Breathing is something we must do for our entire lives; from the very moment of our birth to quite literally our last dying breath. Breathing is a sign of life and a basic requirement for our existence.
Now consider this in light of our spiritual rather than our physical life. When our prayers become hindered or non-existent, then our spiritual life begins to suffer, and all aspects of our faith slowly dies. And just as breathing is a basic function that demonstrates the existence of life, so too does prayer indicate the existence of our spiritual life. Most of us will agree that no one can be considered a faithful Christian if he or she does not pray. We cannot claim to be in communion with God if we do not spend time in dialogue with Him.
"Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"