No matter where you are or where you go, you can’t escape the incessant ticking of the clock. The hours go by faster and faster and so do the days. You wonder if you have the time to do anything whatsoever. Young as you are, you have many interests. Apart from the tight daily schedule, you must also have fun because “you only live once”. Going out with friends, going out for a drink, hanging out at the mall and in the end you can say “how fast time flew by!”
As you know time has been and still is man’s worst enemy, but it also can be his best ally. A priest said that for the industrious time seems to dilate and they have time to do everything they have to do, while for the lazy, time constricts and they feel like they have no time to do anything.
It steals minutes, hours from our lives, time during which we could do much more useful things for our soul. Many of us waste time on useless things. We give them more of our time but we actually forget about ourselves. We forget about our soul, about what we should be doing as His children. We make time for work, sleep, family, shopping, travelling, restaurants, for everything except for our soul. Do any of these bring any use to us?
Shall we have eternal life in our worldly pursuit? We don’t have time for Him, but He always has time for us. In return we have replaced prayer with mere homage. The Sunday liturgy is set aside in favor of going out with friends to the mall or any other entertaining spot. We are always preoccupied with ourselves, with our interests, with our worldly duties, with spending time in other manners than with God and in other places than in church. Here is what Fr. Calistrat from Barnova tells us about the time for prayer: I constantly meet people who say: “I don’t have time”; and my answer was the following: “How many minutes have you created in the universe so that you can make them yours and say that it is your time? Time belongs to God alone. Even so, from all that He has given you, you must give Him at least the tenth part, as the Pharisee in the Gospel said, a minute every hour, if not ten minutes every hour, during which your efforts to make your communication with God real should be obvious.”
Man is used to worship as a routine. He is used to say “God help me!” hastily, no matter what he is doing – stealing, working or travelling. He resorts to that short prayer “God help me succeed to…” and he thinks that he said it all.
In addition, the priest’s catechesis should explain clearly to people what the connection between man and God through prayer means, what communication with God through prayer means. The Christian regards prayer as an obligation, as just another law in the criminal or civil code. Like a lady once asked me: “But why twelve oikoi and why must I repeat the last one?” And I told her: “If you want you can repeat it twice!”
Another reason for the lack of prayer is the clergy’s habit to communicate believers those short symbolic canons we frequently meet in parochial churches: instead of telling the Christian to read a kathisma from the Psalter, to say “Our Father” or the 50th Psalm a number of times, an Akathistos to a saint, a Canon of Repentance or that to the Guardian Angel for the sins the believer confessed, the priest tells him to light a few candles, buy a few prosphora or tells him: “Go home, I’ll mention you in the church’s prayers, it will all work out, don’t worry…”
So we have time for everything except for prayer. But prayer is the air of the soul. Consequently when we don’t have time to pray, we don’t have time to breathe, we don’t have time to live spiritually.
We breathe air into our body easily, we don’t forget to do this because it has become a reflex. But the reflex we lost by falling into sin is the reflex to live spiritually. And in order to be alive in a spiritual manner, we must regain this reflex: prayer.
Translated by Claudia