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The Spiritual Means, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III

3- Exercises in prayer

  

1. Train yourself to extend the time you spend in the presence of God.

How beautiful is the saying of David the Psalmist in Psalm 119:97, Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. Ask yourself then, how much time do you spend with God? There is no doubt that you spend much time in conversation and entertainment that you benefit nothing from... It is a wasted time. Would that you dedicate more time to talking with God. Do not make this time at the end of your busy schedule but on the top of it.

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2. Train yourself to get up early and start the day with prayer.

This is when the heart is clear, not crowded by thoughts about work and other responsibilities. The house would be still quiet as the rest of the family is still asleep and no noise is heard. You will be alone with God, with no obstacles and God will be the first one you will talk to in your day and you will take a blessing for the whole day...

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St-Takla.org Image: Kids praying - Published with permission of the brother's parents (Philopatir & Fabio Nasser), and the boys themselves - Photograph by Michael Ghaly for St-Takla.org صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: أطفال يصلون - منشورة بإذن أسرة الأخان (فيلوباتير وفابيو ناصر) أصحاب الصورة، والأطفال أنفسهم - تصوير مايكل غالي لـ: موقع الأنبا تكلا هيمانوت

St-Takla.org Image: Kids praying - Published with permission of the brother's parents (Philopatir & Fabio Nasser), and the boys themselves - Photograph by Michael Ghaly for St-Takla.org

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: أطفال يصلون - منشورة بإذن أسرة الأخان (فيلوباتير وفابيو ناصر) أصحاب الصورة، والأطفال أنفسهم - تصوير مايكل غالي لـ: موقع الأنبا تكلا هيمانوت

3. Give more care to the Hours Prayers from the Agpia:

If you cant pray each hour completely during the day, at least pray the parts and the absolution of each. You can be sure that it would not take more than a few minutes from you, during which you lift up your heart to God during the days struggles and anxieties.

What would help you here is memorizing, so the more you memorize parts and psalms from the Agpia, the more you will be able to pray without a book and without anyone noticing...

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4. Try to practise praying in all places.

Follow what the Bible says, ...Men always ought to pray (Lk 18:1) , and Pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17)... Practise praying while on the road so you would not be occupied by its scenery. Practise praying while with other

people, especially if their talk is a stumbling block or it does not concern you. Practise praying when you enter your house and when you leave it, and also when you get to work and when you leave it... Pray also in each meeting, so God will give you grace and success.

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5. Train yourself to pray the repetitive short prayers:

For example, the prayer: My Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me, or Make haste, O God, to deliver me! Make haste to help me, or I love the Lord Jesus Christ, and I bless His name, or I thank you Lord on every occasion... or any short verse that you make up for yourself as a prayer and that suits your condition and expresses your feelings... By repeating a prayer, it makes it register in your subconscious so it will be in your thoughts automatically and may stay with you, even in your sleep. The saying of the Psalmist, ...I remember You on my bed (Ps 63:6), refers to this.

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6. Train yourself to pray for others.

Practise praying for all those who are in need, as we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other sections. For your relatives, friends and colleagues... for the church in general and for your local parish, and especially for the service... Another prayer could be for the sick and for those who have departed and for those who are in need of repentance. A prayer for the world and the nations... And by this way you will progress gradually in praying for others, until you even pray for your enemies and those who resist you.

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7. Train yourself to bring God into each topic and each problem.

Do not face problems on your own, or depend only on your intelligence, or on your friends to solve your problems. But have the feeling that you can not do without God in whatever faces you. Be sure that prayer will give you a feeling of security, comfort and inner peace. Be confident that your problems are in honest, strong hands, capable of guiding all your affairs.

When you pray for a problem, either God will solve it and so it comes to an end, or if it remains, God will give your heart peace concerning it.

This is another way of solving the problem.

Although the problem is still there, you are not upset about it or disturbed; it is almost as if it does not exist. You dont consider it a problem any more... This is the effectiveness of prayer.

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8. Train yourself on personal prayers, beside the ritual ones.

The prayer in which you talk openly to God and reveal all that is in your heart. There is nothing wrong in saying to Him, Lord, I love You but I feel that I love other matters in the world which hinder me from You. Whenever I try to remove them from my heart, I find myself weak before You. I know that, Whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (Jas 4:4). Therefore, grant me Lord to love You with the perfect love and with Your strength, save me from any love that is against Your love.

St-Takla.org Image: A man kneeling and praying in repentance (confession), black and white clipart. صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: رجل يركع ويصلي (الاعتراف)، كليبارت أبيض وأسود.

St-Takla.org Image: A man kneeling and praying in repentance (confession), black and white clipart.

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: رجل يركع ويصلي (الاعتراف)، كليبارت أبيض وأسود.

Dont let your prayer be just mere chosen and well selected phrases. Let it be in plain words that spring from your heart, without artificiality... Let your prayer express your condition and feelings with an open heart... Beware that you do not make your prayer just a routine.

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9. Pray with understanding. Train yourself to contemplate on the psalms, the Agpia prayers and all the memorized prayers.

The deeper you go in the meaning of these prayers, the more you will find this depth accompanying you at the time of prayer. You will also learn the manner of talking to God; as the Disciples said to the Lord, Teach us to pray (Lk 11:2).

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10. If you havent reached yet the pure prayer, do not stop praying for this reason.

Prayer, like any virtue, is one in which progress is made gradually in order to reach its perfection. And as it was said by Mar Isaac, If you are going to wait until you reach the level of perfect prayer before you even start praying, you will never pray, because it is through constant prayer that we reach the perfected and pure prayer...

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11. Train yourself to continue praying, whenever you want to end it...

It is a sign of success in praying that you feel you cannot live without it or leave it; it is as if you are communicating direct with God, saying, Stay with me, my Lord. And you say with the Shulamite in the Book of Songs, I held Him and would not let Him go (Song 3:4).. You will even feel the sweetness of each petition or word and you would not like to leave it. Or, as one of the fathers said about the prayers of the saints, Because of the sweetness of the word in their mouth, they were unable to leave it for another word...


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