How should we pray to God? by St. Nicholai Velimirovic
Many do not know.
Many people ask about it.
It is necessary to know, but if you do not know, it is appropriate to ask anyone about it.
The question, meanwhile, is simple and absolutely clearly defined in the Church of Christ throughout its two thousand-year history.
Any prayer, the shortest and the longest, must contain three things:
– thanks to God,
– a plea for help in this particular case,
– praise God.
Church Slavonic definitions of this threefold content of prayer are much more expressive than the words of the Serbians and they sound like this:
– thanks ,
– petition ,
– praise .
Parable about the nobleman and the plowman
A certain nobleman lived in his palace in luxury and bliss. Nobody in the world could match him either in wealth, strength or health. However, having been fed up with everything in the world, the nobleman felt with all his heart how empty and meaningless his life was, and he was bewildered by his heavy blues.
And then one morning he gathered in a long way to find solace and the joy of life. He jumped on a horse and, accompanied by a retinue, set off on the road. The path was long, but the rich man did not meet anything that would have pleased his soul and warmed him.
Both the horsemen and the horses were already tired to exhaustion when they arrived at the same field on which the lonely plowman worked. The site was framed by majestic oaks, which gave a thick shadow. The nobleman dismounted to rest in the shade. While the servants were unloading their weary horses, the gentleman’s gaze absentmindedly glanced around until he settled on a plowman in the middle of a field. And the nobleman sees an unusual picture: one ox lies on the ground, another stands nearby, and the farmer is in a furrow on his knees with arms raised to the sky, constantly exclaiming: “Glory to Thee, God! Thank you! Glory to Thee, O God! Thank you!”
In complete bewilderment from the striking picture, the nobleman approached the plowman and asked:
“Why do you thank God so much, mate?”
– I lost an ox, – said the plowman.
– And you thank God for that? – puzzled and mockingly asked the rich man.
– Yes, for that.
– I do not understand! – the rich man wonders. – Another in your place would cry, groan and complain about the injustice of heaven and earth, and you thank. Explain why you thank God, I beg you.
The plowman sighed and said:
– I am a sinful man, that is why this misfortune fell on me. Instead of punishing me with death for my sins, the Lord took from me one ox. How can I not thank Him? In past years, by the grace of God, I had several pairs of oxen, and I know that it was from Him, and thanked Him. Now His holy will is revealed: take one ox from the last pair. So I think I should be grateful to Him when He takes it, just as when He gives. Thank God for everything!
The nobleman was surprised even more and asked again:
– Well, but how will you now begin to plow with one ox?
– The Lord will provide! – the plowman answered, and his face lit up with a slight smile.
The nobleman reproachfully thought that he, living in a palace in wealth and luxury, had not smiled for years as brightly as this poor peasant, who remained in the field with one ox, but did not stop trusting in the Lord. Then the rich man put his hand in his pocket, took out some gold and handed it to the peasant.
“Here, take it,” he said, “but buy yourself another ox.” Today I learned a lot from you.
The farmer took the money and happily exclaimed:
“Did I not tell you, my lord, that the Lord will provide everything?” – He again raised his hands to the sky and repeated loudly. – Thank you, God! Thank you, God!
The nobleman went back. When he arrived at the place, he saw that his palace was engulfed in flames. And looking at this, he knelt, raised his hands and exclaimed:
– Thank you, God! Thank you, God!
The servants were very surprised by such an act of his master, but he told them:
– Do not be surprised. I did not know how to thank the Lord when God gave me, but now I am doubly grateful to Him when He takes away! Now it’s time for me to work and this is the only thing that, along with faith in God, can return the meaning and joy of my life. Do not be afraid, the Lord will rule everything!
And the nobleman surrendered to the work of building a new palace. Then his spirit lifted, his heart cleared, his heart was merry. And the rich man was accustomed to thank God for everything every day.
The moral of this parable is clear: one must always be grateful to the Lord, for every man at any moment of his life has something to thank God for. And let no one say: “Misfortune befalls me, and why should I thank God ?!” Yes, yes, I should thank, and for this just as if you receive from God what you call wealth, happiness, profit by success.
Dear reader, you can delve into the Holy Scriptures and read there the wonderful story of the long-suffering Job, which is written to be an eternal consolation to all who suffer. From that book you will learn that you always have to be grateful to God: when He favors and when He takes, because you will see: Even when the Lord takes, He takes not from evil, not to hurt a person, but to help a person through suffering, to strengthen in spirit and exalt the soul to heaven. If you continue to read the Holy Scripture, you will achieve that perfection that you will be able to explain all your suffering, and as soon as you explain it, suffering will lose its poisoned sting, with which it stings you, as long as you consider it accidental and meaningless.