Father Boris Bobrinskoy continues his discussion of the fourth chapter of The Compassion of the Fatheron “The Prayer of the Heart and Suffering” by distinguishing three more aspects of prayer.
The first of these is the exclusive way in which we set ourselves apart for prayer, whether personal or liturgical, in exclusive way, enabling us to enter a “face-to-face” encounter with God. This solitary dimension is a requirement of all prayer.
The second aspect is inclusive because inner prayer tends to become intercession.
Totally turned toward the Father, Christ carries and intercedes for the entire world: “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am” (Jn 17:24). We are called to be where Jesus is – at the right hand of the Father – to be seated with Him in the heavens. St Paul often speaks of this in his “captivity” Epistles, Ephesians and Colossians, and in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Likewise, the veneration of the Mother of God recalls and symbolizes this motherly intercession of Christ and the saints: “My dear children,” St Paul says, for whom I am in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in you” (Gal 4:19). On the spiritual plane, the man, like the woman – and in the same fashion – suffers the pains of childbirth for those whom they bring into the world, also for those whom they see moving away from the grace of the house of God. Consequently, the most personal and most profound prayer requires embracing the world, concretely and in an everyday manner, bringing it before God. Carrying the world before God involves carrying suffering, horror, and evil, so that they be burned and exorcised – a process possible only to the extent that the roots of evil, which lie in my own heart, are exorcised and burned in the face-to-face encounter with the Name of Jesus. (95)
This relationship with the Name of Jesus is very important and the Bible takes the mystery of the Name very seriously. The name symbolises the presence so that ultimately prayer is the only manner of naming God.
The mark of the Christian is that this Name of Jesus has entered his or her life. Neither the Byzantine Fathers, nor the hesychasts of Mt Athos, of Sinai, of Palestine, or even of Egypt – including St Macarius, St Antony, and St Pachomius – invented the prayer of the heart and the invocation of the Name of Jesus. The Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of St Paul attest that even before the name “Christian” was popularized and made common in Antioch, the believers were “those who at all times invoked the name of the Lord.” Furthermore, the first preaching of St Peter ends, in Acts: “And everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21). This “Name of the Lord” is Kyrios, the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew “Yahweh,” the ineffable and holy Name of God that Jesus Himself inherits, by right. St Peter said that Jesus was “made Lord.” The Father no longer solely bears this name “Lord.” Jesus partakes fully of this divine lordship and possesses this name as His own title.
The invocation of the name “Lord,” referring to Jesus, is a very early prayer. Even before the wide use of the Name of Jesus, the term “Lord” in the Aramaic language, Maranatha, or “Come, Lord,” is used. Certain modern liturgies reproduce this Maranatha or its Greek form – Kyrie eleison – without being translated, in the Latin and Western liturgies. Kyrie eleison is reminiscent of a time when the prayer of the heart was not the prerogative of specialists, of prayer professionals, but when the entire people of God personally practiced it under very varied forms.(96)
The third aspect of prayer is that it has an apostolic fruitfulness which sends us out into the world to give live-giving testimony to the Name of the Lord.
Consequently, the dismissal of the faithful at the end of the Liturgy has a deep symbolic meaning: it announces the end merely of the first part of the Liturgy. At that moment, the believers enter and bring to the world the presence of the living word of Christ. (97)
Father Boris ends this chapter with a section entitled “Are Newspapers a Help in Prayer?” in which he recounts Archimandrite Sophrony’s account of a discussion between Saint Silouan and some other monks. Saint Silouan argues that newspapers confuse the mind whereas prayer clears the mind and enables one to feel compassion. Father Boris ends by quoting Saint Silouan:
If you would hold on to prayer, you must love those who offend against you, and pray for them until your soul is reconciled to them, and then the Lord will give you prayer without cease, for He gives prayer to those who pray for their enemies. In prayer, our teacher is the Lord Himself. He who prays aright has the peace of God in his soul. The man of prayer should feel tenderly towards every living thing. The man of prayer loves all men and has compassion for all, for the grace of the Holy Spirit has taught him love.” (98)