Orthodox America

   Grace-filled Prayers

Part V

We believe in God, we believe that He created the world and rules it; that He is the Highest Intelligence; that He is All-Encompassing Love; He is the Creator, Provider, and Saviour of the world; the All-Good Father of Heaven.

Let us now clarify for ourselves what are our greatest responsibilities communicated to us by the Law of God. Foremost, they are awe before God, gravitation towards Him, and gratefulness to Him, our Provider and Saviour.

Yes, children, thank God from your whole soul for the good things in this life, for His boundless love toward people, for His grace-filled help, for the hope of a glorious future. In everything give thanks, instructs the Apostle, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (I Thes. 5:18). Every plant turns towards the sun, which warms it and gives it life. Dogs and other domestic animals know their owners and benefactors who feed them and care for them. So much more should you, as intelligent creatures of God, turn to Him more often as the Giver of all good things - God, Who feeds, forgives, comforts, and saves us. Praise ye the Lord for He is good and His mercy endureth forever (Ps 105:1) Glorify Him with heartfelt prayer, glorify Him by studying His law and by fulfilling His will.

When, as you get older, you encounter various troubles and suffering in life, when your faith may grow weak, then pray all the more. Prayer will give you comfort and peace.

The Queen of Heaven is particularly close to children who call upon her. She loves and helps them. Once the father of the holy Russian hierarch Joasaph of Belgorod was sitting on his porch at sunset pondering on what awaited his son when he grew up and finished his studies. Suddenly he saw the Mother of God in the air and his son on his knees, praying at Her feet. Then he heard her say to Joasaph, "Your prayer is enough for me," and from the heights an angel flew down and cloaked the youth in a bishop's mantle. Thus Saint Joasaph, while still a child, prayed to the Queen of Heaven, entreating her never to leave him, and she never did!

We must also pray to the holy God-pleasers, the saints, those fervent intercessors before God for us. There are entire books written about the miracles wrought by Saint Nicholas, Saint Sergius of Radonezh, Saint Seraphim of Sarov, and others. The holy ones are very close to children who call upon them. Listen to what happened to one little boy. From the age of four, his legs and arms were bent and he was unable to walk. Once, when all in the house were sleeping, the mother heard her son's voice: "Mama, Mama!" She asked what he wanted. The boy replied: I saw a dream. An old man appeared to me and said, "Why are you crying?" I replied: "I am a cripple and can't work,  my father is poor, I am a burden to him and he grumbles." "It is good that you pray to God," continued the old man, "but do not cry. Go to Belgorod, pray at the tomb of Saint Joasaph, and you will walk." The words of the hierarch came true. When the boy was brought to the relics of the Saint, he began to cross himself and then he was able to walk. Prayer is so soul-saving. Therefore I beg you, children, make a habit - and never leave it - of praying morning and evening and before beginning and ending any work. Children who turn to the Queen of Heaven and to the God-pleasing saints in their needs and sorrows draw closer to them and are protected from many calamities. Pray to the Mother of God and the saints. The Mother of God and the saints once lived on earth and were themselves in need of help from people, asking their protection and intercession.

Translated by Maria Naumenko from Pastyrskiye Besedy s Det'mi, Moscow 1997 (reprinted from a 1901 edition).