Show me who you Pray for, and I will Show you who you Love.
I have the distinct blessing as an Orthodox Priest to pray at the Altar of God. I stand in front of His Sacred Table, offering names of loved ones and friends. These names are given to me by faithful members of my parish and others. This practice of offering names to God in prayer is an ancient Christian custom but continues to this day.
A typical aspect of this custom is for faithful Orthodox Christians to maintain ‘Diptychs’ comprised of ‘two panels’ of names. One panel has the names of the living. One has names of those who have fallen asleep in the Lord. These ‘diptychs’ are then given to priests to be offered to God. As an Orthodox Priest, sometimes I stand more than an hour offering names to God. Names are given to churches, monasteries, and holy sites throughout the world.
As I wrote, I consider it a distinct blessing to be able to be the one who offers these names to God in front of His Holy Table. Prayer is an intimate experience I get to share between families and God. It is not lost on me, personally, that I have been allowed into each family’s prayers to God.
I am often asked how to pray, what to pray for, and for whom to pray. Today’s blog is an attempt to answer the question of for whom we should pray. In simple terms, we should pray for those whom we love. As I pray countless lists of names in front of God’s Holy Table, it occurs to me that many people limit their prayers.
I hear stories of loved ones, but rarely find the names of the loved ones on the very ‘diptychs’ submitted for prayers to God. I would rather believe people feel their list is supposed to be limited instead of thinking more people aren’t loved. In the spirit of giving gifts for Christmas, I invite you to consider this. There is no greater gift than prayer. If you loved someone, pray for them. If you love someone, offer them name to God. If you love someone, ask God to bless them.
Granted, there are other reasons to pray for others. We pray for the health of our friend’s family members. We pray for our enemies. We pray for our leaders, both civil and ecclesiastical. The least we could do is pray for the ones we love.
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