Tomas Spidlik: Is Your Life Marked by Prayer to the Father?

Feast of the Holy Prophet Zephaniah

Spidlik_Square.jpgPRAYER IS an ascent of the spirit to God, a request addressed to God, a dialogue with God. Only with a person can we converse. Unlike systems of philosophy, a living religion has a personal view of the deity, a certain concept of the divine “fatherhood”, known from experience. This dimension is very explicit in Scripture, which is the revelation of a God who lives and reigns. Scripture contains no treatise De Deo [On God]: it does not stand back, as if to describe its object from a distance. It asks us, not to speak about God, but to listen to Him and respond to Him. What prompted Israel to call God its father was a living experience, not reason. The Letmotiv in psalmic prayer is batah, “to put one’s trust in.” Jesus Christ fulfills Judaic reflection on the fatherhood of God. He invites us to live like a child who entreats its father (Mt. 7.7-11) and trusts Him (6.24-34). The life of believers is therefore marked by prayer to the Father.

The Church Fathers instinctively viewed the Lord’s Prayer as the pre-eminent Christian prayer (sometimes with an anti-Jewish touch). Their explanations are usually based on Johannine or Pauline texts about the divine filiation. “The one who loves God constantly lives and speaks with Him as a Father”, Evagrius writes.

A beautiful meditation entitled “The Father and his Children”, by Tikhon of Zadonsk sought to develop this concept in greater detail: “Children are born of a father; renewed and made children of God by grace. Christians too, are born of God. Character traits resembling those of the father are found in the children. Father and children speak to one another with tenderness.”

—Tomas Spidlik, Prayer: The Spirituality of the Christian East, Volume 2

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