Chapter 1, Section 3, The Necessity of Prayer, pp 29-31

Warm greetings to you, people of prayer. On this Sunday of Forgiveness in the Eastern Church (on which I post this), I ask for your forgiveness for all of my weaknesses and faults. Let us continue to pray for each other with merciful hearts as we journey with Fr. Matta in these desert places.

Fr. Matta creates a metaphor of God as the Gardener whose ultimate hope is that what He has purchased for His vineyard (us) will bear fruit. He relates this to how fruit is what binds the heart of a gardener to the tree he has planted while he is watering and tending it. However, with us, “The ripe fruit of the blood that was shed, and the conscious response to the work of his love and suffering, is our prayer.”

  1. Are you able to relate to this metaphor and see God waiting expectantly for fruit to come forth from you?
  2. At the end of this section, Fr. Matta quotes Christ in the Gospel of John (4: 23) saying that the Father “seeks” worshipers (prayerful people). Why is our prayer so important to God?

Fr. Matta offers some stern words for the state of our world – and the Church – pointing out how we have “fallen back to the worship of idols” and how fear of God is nearly absent from our world. He goes so far as to allege that a person may live their lives entirely without God and escape the notice of anyone – or “even be praised and commended!”

  1. Given this state of affairs, why is prayer so necessary for us?
  2. As we review what Fr. Matta has written on this, perhaps we could reflect on our personal experiences – when we have needed prayer, when/how it has helped us.
  3. As a further step, we might reflect on times when we missed opportunities to employ prayer when facing some of the challenges and provocations that our lives in the world offer.
  4. Fr. Matta writes: “Prayer is an inward light that exposes the blemishes and defects of our daily conduct.” Can I learn to welcome this light and not resist it out of shame?

As noted above, at the end of this section, Fr. Matta cites the words of Christ from the Gospel of John and comments, “the prayer that is in spirit and truth is the only prayer acceptable to God.”

  1. What does this mean, “spirit and truth”? Why is it vital that we pray in spirit and truth?

Much to reflect and pray with here. Once again, God willing, I will offer some comments on the Sayings of the Fathers for this section in a few days. Please share any reflections or questions you have for our community.


2 thoughts on “Chapter 1, Section 3, The Necessity of Prayer, pp 29-31

  1. We pray in spirit and truth when It is Christ praying through us to His Father. We can say the same for Mary, because when She prays through us to Him, He is more likely to turn away from His Justice and show Mercy for not doing His Will at all times.

    I’m farther along in the book, but up til now, He has only been spoon feeding us some of desert fathers’ sayings. I prefer going to the source. Here’s a link below to the Phylokalia on my web site HymnsandChants.Com.

    Fr. Matthew doesn’t claim to have experienced what some of the Fathers have, but he says that he believes what say and that this is possible for anyone. I’m sure he’s had a taste of the fruit of his labors. Regardless, he is obviously doing God’s work and has at least harvested some of our attention span by writing his 118 books.

  2. I appreciate you sharing your hard work with us, Gary. The Philokalia is a wonderful resource.

    On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with being spoon-fed. In fact, sometimes that is what is most healthy for us. Not all are ready to read the Philokalia – and I count myself among them. I am inspired by how Fr. Matta entered the desert with such limited resources and prayed with them so deeply. I need to learn from that – to go slowly and deeply into the teachings of those greater than me, rather than follow my ego-driven inclinations to rush. Others who have studied more than me can move ahead and that is fine.

    I would like to reflect on and possibly write a bit more on your Justice and Mercy comment. I will make note here if I do so. Thanks for commenting.

    *** I have written “a bit more” on God’s Justice and Mercy but it became long enough to become a post on its own. Having re-read it a few hours after posting, I’m not sure whether it will make sense to anyone but me – or even if it does to me!. But anyone who wishes may travel to my regular blog for a read by clicking here

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