Q&A with an Orthodox priest: “You are also in this prayer”

Sister N.: Father Sophrony (Sakharov) used to ask his elder to pray for him many times but the elder simply prayed the Jesus prayer. Finally, the elder said, “You are also in this prayer.” Father, can you please explain this to me? 

Father Andrew: He prayed both for himself and for that person; he did not dissociate himself from that person. He prayed on behalf of the entire humankind, which calls unto God for help. Father Sophrony also was a part of this prayer. He was young and inexperienced at that time, and such an attitude towards prayer, worship, and obedience showed the excellence of the spiritual life to him, even though there were mistakes and misunderstanding on his way. Remember what St Seraphim of Sarov said? “Acquire peace inside you and thousands will be saved around you.” It does not matter who will happen to be around you: anyone whom God sends to be around you will be saved. 

Elder Sophrony Sakharov
Moreover, it is said that every good action that you do, each prayer that you say, influences the whole world. However, we do not feel that we live in this eternity, we do not feel that we live globally; we only live in our own cells, doing our own little jobs and never trying to look out of the box. We feel bad even within our small limits: that sister snores, I am fed up with her, give me freedom. What freedom? Freedom from whom? From yourself? If only we lived within the frameworks of the eternity, our life would change drastically; we would no longer search for anything usable in the discarded stuff but look for the real things. In fact, God controls every situation. This is astonishing. The words “have mercy on me a sinner” may be thought of as including the entire humankind. This is the alternative dimension again. It makes one responsible for all other people. If I do not go to church now, if I am lazy or dozy, if I spare myself, how many people would suffer because of my sin, how much pain and evil I would inflict on them! If we realize all this, we are doing it the Orthodox way. This is why a monastic distances himself from his blood relatives in order to be able to accept Africans, Eskimos, Australians, and all nations as his brothers and sisters, or else everything is fake.




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