A Reflection on Personal Prayer
Once again I have the extreme joy of being with you. I treasure these moments. The issue of personal prayer is dear to my heart for a multitude of reasons. I am convinced that the most intimate thing that two humans can do is pray together at divine services or privately. You may ask, “More intimate than the exchange of deep personal vulnerability?” Yes, and more yes. Personal prayer is about being directly aware of Almighty God, beyond our every thought or imagination.
My Own Personal Prayer Journey
At age 85 I have a rather regular and developed personal prayer life. I am closer to end game and I continue to be “crazy as a lunatic.” The center of my prayer life is the prayer of Metropolitan Philaret and daily meditation. As a college student my prayer life was, well, to use a sanitized word, “inconsistent at best.” I was a radically confused camper; I can’t remember having a prayer rule, but I would regularly go to the Roman Catholic Mass after work at the local cathedral. The Mass at 5:40 PM was an oasis of calm and serenity in my otherwise turbulent life as student council president, fiancee to a lovely coed who loved me dearly, battalion executive officer in ROTC, vice president of the fraternity, and (by the way) a college student who changed his major three times. Prayer didn’t seem to fit into my whirlwind turbulence. Life is a process of growing up. Little did I know that after college I would break up with my precious fiancee, resign as an officer in the army and become a Roman Catholic monk for 11 years; of course I had no idea at all that I would eventually convert to Orthodoxy… the church that brought me to the fullness of truth for which I am eternally grateful.
Prayer Life of College Students
What I can say to you college students is be gentle with yourself. Try to love yourselves as God loves you. Or, said another way and borrowing from St. Irenaeus, “Relax in God’s hands.” He loves you dearly and accepts your inconstancies.
Where to start? Please try to have a simple prayer rule that you may not have the discipline to do regularly. The prayer rule can be an analytic that you use to measure your relationship with Christ. Some students start by making the sign of the cross upon awakening and making the sign of the cross upon getting into bed. Not much, but it’s something. The Trisagion is sometimes used after standing up. Some students say the prayer by Metropolitan Philaret; but whatever you do please don’t ever despair, say “It really doesn’t matter,” and give up praying. Despair, also sometimes called nihilism, is the greatest of all temptations.
Personal prayer is about becoming who we really are, becoming our best self who is Christ living within us. Union without confusion. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Personal prayer is the opening of our hearts to the living, loving God Almighty within us. What could be better?
Prayer at the Beginning of the Day By Metropolitan Philaret
O Lord, grant me to meet the coming day in peace. Help me in
all things to rely upon Your holy will. In every hour of the day
reveal your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround
me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day
with peace of soul, and with firm conviction that Your will
governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and
feelings. In unforeseen events let me not forget that all are
sent by you. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without
embittering and embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear
the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct
my will, teach me to pray, pray You Yourself in me. Amen.
Dr. Albert Rossi
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Dr. Albert Rossi is a licensed clinical psychologist and Christian educator who has written numerous articles on psychology and religion. He has published two books through Ancient Faith Publications entitled, Becoming a Healing Presence and All is Well. Dr. Rossi was a member of the SCOBA Commission on Contemporary Social and Moral Issues for six years. He hosts the podcast Becoming a Healing Presence on Ancient Faith Radio.