Pray as You Can!

My teacher and the Dean Emeritus of St. Vladimir’s seminary, Fr. Tom Hopko, made a list of the ten essential conditions for coming to know God’s truth and finding life.  You can find the list here. The third of the essential conditions is:

The person must pray, as they can. If they claim to be Christian, at least somehow, they should say the Lord’s Prayer, and other prayers of the Church tradition, and attend Liturgical services, without serving or singing or reading. If they are not Christians, or are unsure, they must at least pray, “to whom it may concern,” saying something like, “if you are there, teach me, lead me, guide me…” Fr. Tom Hopko 3rd Essential Condition

These essential conditions are for those who are trying to find their way back to a relationship with God.

I like the direction that one must pray as they can. We can often find ourselves discouraged about our own spiritual life. We make assumptions and/or judgments about what other’s prayer lives must be like. We do share a common liturgical life. But we have to live our lives and not someone else’s. All the saints had their own sound in the symphony. St. Seraphim of Sarov read the entire New Testament every week. That was his way. It is probably not yours.

It is easier to be in services if we are busy leading them. To attend the services without serving, singing or reading is good counsel. It is more difficult to just come and try to pray. Serving, singing and reading can distract us from the Lord.

I am curious about what your thoughts are about Fr. Tom’s 3rd condition.. What do you think?



Filed under Orthodox Christianity

5 responses to “Pray as You Can!

  1. Sounds good. I think the part about attending without serving is good too, depending on where you are at in your spiritual journey. I know that as an Anglican I saw different spiritual avenues on both “sides” of the sanctuary. Serving left some things out but gained others that are not obtainable through attending; and vice versa. I have always thought that God desires “the fruit of our lips” in worship (Hebrews 13) but if you are not in the right frame of mind then I think it can be counterproductive.

  2. Jim Truscott

    1Thes.5 Verses 16 to 18

    [16] Rejoice always,
    [17] pray constantly,
    [18] give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.


  3. I know from my own experience that this prayer stuff works. I was a confirmed atheist for 30 years, but seeing Christians around me, I thought (prayed?): “what the heck… If you are there? Tell me”, and He did – very clearly.
    As for attending services without serving etc.. What planet is Fr Tom on? I walk into Church – Father hands me ten jobs (he serves without a deacon, so….). I can ask not to be given them, but then he has to do it all. The only escape is to go to another Church (and know I’m letting Fr down at home.)
    Speaking of prayer, I have you and your family and parish on my Proskomede list. You can’t have too much.
    Love, Richard.

  4. Mark

    I agree it is the right spirit to encourage people to pray as they can. My own difficulties are when I do not have peace of mind such as when I am agitated by some earthly issue and this is usually only affecting the end of the day . This is probably when I most need it but also when I find it most difficult and feel either unworthy or ,worse , that it is ineffective.

  5. Lenore Wilkison

    I do find it very much more difficult AND somewhat less distracting to participate in liturgy without singing. Nonetheless, I only occasionally find myself distracted by singing. More often, it helps me keep my focus. My mind wanders much more if I do not sing.

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