"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours" (Mk. 11:24)
Spiritual Message by Fr. Vartan Joulfayan

We live in a society today that has many ways and means which put our minds under tremendous pressure and hinders a necessary communication between our Creator and us.  This communication which lifts us from the secular to spiritual level is achieved through prayer. 
When we stand in prayer we must first try to free our minds from passion-filled thoughts, judgments, reasoning, jealousy, hate, doubt and all the sins we have committed by submitting them to Christ with supplication to receive our wrong-doings and place them on His victorious cross.  During prayer we need to stand before God with pure mind and concentrate on what we need to ask for from our Lord.  We should not let any outer image, concept or thought disturb us from opening of our hearts and minds freely and submit our whole being to Christ in order to be worthy to receive His mercy, remission and forgiveness of our sins.  Our prayer and supplication must be doubtless, pure and humble, because, otherwise, we will be no different than the Pharisee in the temple.  Those who pray should not think of themselves as righteous people and despise others as Jesus said in His parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector.  The Pharisee said, "God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get."  But the tax collector beating his chest said, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!"  Jesus concluded saying, "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other" (Lk 18:9-14).
For those who proclaim that they are Christians and confess their faith, praying must be a priority without growing tired of praying.  When we read the Scriptures, we will see and understand how often the Lord and His disciples prayed and why did they pray?  When Jesus and His disciples went to Gethsemane, the Lord told them, "Sit here, while I go yonder and pray."  Then taking with him Peter, John and James He said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me."  Jesus went a stone-throw away and prayed to His Father saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Mt. 26:36-41).  After praying to His Father, Jesus went back to His disciples and found them sleeping; and He said to them, "So, could you not watch with me one hour?  Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation."
Jesus did not need to pray the way we need to pray.  He prayed because He knew "The hour was at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners" (Mt. 26:45).  He prayed to His Father to glorify His Father and to submit himself to the will of His Father, which was the shedding of His blood for the salvation of mankind (Lk. 22:19).  Warning His audience about the "cares of this life" (Lk. 21:34), Jesus makes an exhortation saying, "But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man" (Lk. 21:36).
During their preachings and teachings, the apostles also made exhortations and encouraged the first Christian communities to watch and pray.  The Twelve performed miracles, healing and even raised the dead through prayer.  In the Book of Acts there is mention of a disciple named Tabitha.  "She was full of good works and acts of charity."  She dies from illness in the city of Joppa.  Peter being in Lydda, which was near Joppa, came to the disciple's house and he "Knelt down and prayed; then turning to the body he said, 'Tabitha, rise.'  And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up" (Acts 9:36-43). 
 The epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians presents another account on prayer and supplication.  The Apostle of Gentiles, while in prison, wrote to the Ephesians saying, "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication" (Eph. 6:17-18).  Throughout his epistles St. Paul urges his brethren not to pay "evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.  Rejoice always, pray constantly and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Th. 5:15-18). 
There is one universal prayer that is taught by our Lord according to the request of His disciples.  The account of St. Luke's gospel tells us that "Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples" (Lk. 11:1).  This account is a strong testimony to the fact that John the Forerunner had also taught prayer to his disciples, and that praying was very essential to those who believed in God.  Jesus told to His disciples, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be thine name. Thy kingdom come.  Give us each day our daily bread; and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation" (Lk. 11:2-4, Mt. 6:9-13).
Faithful brethren, pray so that you may not fall into temptation and may not cause others to fall into the snares of evil.  Prayer brightens the soul, purifies the mind and leads your way to the LORD.
Fr. Vartan Joulfayan






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