PRAYER

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PRAYER - Communion with God through words of praise, thanksgiving, repentance, supplication, and intercession. Prayer is "raising up the heart and mind to God" (St. John of Damascus). Usually prayer is verbal. However, prayer of the heart or in the Spirit, the highest form of prayer, is without words. (Matt. 6:5-13; 21:22; Rom. 8:26; Phil. 4:6; 1 Thess. 5:17.)

In the Orthodox Church all prayer is Trinitarian. We pray in the Holy Spirit, through Jesus the Son of God, and in his name, to God the Father. In the Church we also pray to the saints, including the Theotokos, -- not in the same way as we pray to the Persons of the Holy Trinity, but as our helpers, intercessors, and fellow-members of the Church who are already glorified with God in his divine presence. We can also pray to the holy angels to plead our cause before God.

We very often find four kinds of prayer in the Bible: asking, thanking, praising, and lamenting (questioning). Often these various forms of prayer become combined in one. A person begs the Lord about his needs and simultaneously praises Him for His greatness and goodness and thanks Him for being able to fearlessly address Him as to his merciful Father. The most festive hymns of praise in the Church frequently turn into compounded petitions ("Glory to God in the highest," "We praise Thee, O God"), and sometimes the opposite: tearful prayers to God for help resolve into a sublime harmony of grateful thanks and praise. Many Psalms reflect this type, for example, Psalms 146, 148, and others.

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