Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Making Your Prayers Go Viral

Making Your Prayers Go Viral 


While singing a prayer I've sung a hundred times, I noticed something interesting. And the implication of my observation is that, within the Communion of Saints, there is a way to multiply our prayers way beyond our own personal power. And this is something which Christians may have not fully taken advantage of. The secret to "making your prayer go viral" on the ears of God has been hidden in plain sight within the official liturgies of the Christian Church. 

Prayer in Numbers 

We ask other people to pray for us because Scripture teaches us that if one prayer is good, two prayers are better! 

We can see a biblical example of this principle when the Prophet Daniel asked his three friends to "seek mercies" from God that he could interpret the troubling dreams of the King of Babylon (Daniel 2:18-19). And the mystery was then revealed to Daniel in a dream. 

Why did Daniel not just pray on his own? If God wants to grant the prayer, just one person praying should be sufficient, right? And yet he asked three others to pray as well. St. Paul in his epistles also asks other christians to pray for him. And this clearly teaches us that when it comes to prayer, there is strength in numbers. 

Asking Others to Ask Others to Pray for us 

When we have a pressing need in our lives, we pray to God directly, of course. But we also reach out to friends and family to pray on our behalf as well. 

And there may have been times in which you asked a friend not just to pray for you, but also to ask their own circle of friends and family to pray for you as well. 

While we trust that God answers our prayers according to what we really need, Jesus also taught us to be persistent in prayer. He tells us to be as persistent as the widow who so bothers a judge that he eventually grants her justice merely to be rid of her. That’s how persistent we are to be. 
The implication is that there are things God would grant us, but only after we have prayed with great persistence and also multiplied our prayers through the help of others. 
That is why asking others to pray for us and even asking others to ask yet others is a reasonable and faithful practice. But what if we could take this to another level. To a higher level? 

Asking Saints to Ask Other Saints to Pray for us? 

Christians ask their family and friends to pray for them. Those of us in the Catholic and Orthodox communions also ask our family and friends who have fallen asleep to pray for us as well. I’ve posted some videos on this channel that defend the practice of saint intercession from the bible. 

Here's my controversial claim.  If we believe that the faithful departed can, by the power of God hear our requests that they pray for us, could we not ask them to ask others in Heaven to pray for us as well? Would this not be just the same thing as asking a friend to ask other friends? 

Here's why I'm thinking this is indeed a perfectly valid practice. I believe the implied request that a departed Saint ask other Saints to pray is actually contained in the official liturgies of the Church. 

Every Sunday, before the Divine Liturgy begins, I sing aloud the Third and Sixth Hours of Prayer for my congregation. And here's what I noticed is contained within the prayers of the Third Hour: 

O Birth-Giver of God, you are the true vine who has put for the Fruit of Life. We pray you, intercede, O Lady, with the Apostles and all the Saints, that our souls may receive mercy.
Θεοτόκε, σύ εί η άμπελος η αληθινή, η βλαστήσασα τόν καρπόν τής ζωής, σέ ικετεύομεν, πρέσβευε Δέσποινα, μετά τών Αποστόλων, καί πάντων τών Αγίων, ελεηθήναι τάς ψυχάς ημών. 

In the words of this prayer, we ask Mary to intercede for us. But we additionally ask Mary to intercede for us "with the Apostles and all the Saints." Note that this prayer does not include us directly asking "the Apostles and all the Saints" to pray for us. The implication here is that we are asking Mary, not just to pray for us but to enlist the Apostles and all the Saints to pray for us as well. 

And why not? If she can hear what we ask, we can ask her to pray for us. And we can ask her to ask others to pray for us. 

The way I have personally included this within my own prayer life is to ask certain Saints to ask those most like them to pray for me. And so, for instance, when I ask my namesake Saint Andrew to pray for me I say, “Saint Andrew, intercede for me with all your brother apostles that I receive mercy. 

I ask St. Irenaeus bishop of Lyon to pray for me every day. I made him a character in my time travel adventure novel In Saecula Saeculorum. In the course of writing that novel I came to  have a particular devotion to him and relationship with him. And so I daily say “Saint Irenaeus, pray for me with all your brother bishops that I may receive mercy. 

That's the idea. Now, keep in mind, asking others to pray for us is meaningless if we are not primarily praying for ourselves. My prayer time is overwhelmingly spent in direct prayer to God. I pray for my beloved dead. And I do ask them and certain Saints to pray for me. And now, in imitation of this prayer from the 3rd Hours I ask them to ask others. But that time is a fraction of the time I am directly in Communion with my Creator. 

And so, as we pray to our Father directly, and as we ask friends on earth and friends above to both pray for us and ask still more on our behalf, may our prayers multiply before our Loving God, who will grant us, according to His good will those things that we truly need.

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