It is easy to approach Him…

Here is an “audio re-blog” of a profoundly moving reflection by St. Tikhon of Zadonsk (an Orthodox saint of Russia).

I contemplate how frightening it would be to realize that all that we think, say and do occurs before the eyes of God – if we were not immediately assured that we can always approach Him, as readily as a young child comes to a gentle Father. And that He wants nothing more than to love us and help us in our troubles.

Text: (Thanks again to Mark Armitage at Enlarging the Heart for finding and sharing this passage that I might share it with you here.)

Living faith is inspired in the human heart by contemplation of the word of God and by the Holy Spirit.

For this reason we should read and heed the word of God and pray that God Himself ignite the lamp of faith in our heart.

The fear of God arises most often from contemplation of the omnipresence of God and His omniscience.

God is in essence everywhere present; and wherever we may be, He is with us; and whatever we may do, say, think, and undertake, we do, say, think, and undertake all before His holy eyes.

And He knows our deeds far better than we do ourselves. Think about this, O Christian, and heed it, and with God’s help the fear of God will be born in you.

[…] Keep God, then, before your spiritual eyes and you will have the fear of God, imitating the Psalmist, “I beheld the Lord ever before me” (Ps. 15:8).

[…] While standing in church attend diligently to the reading and singing. This gives birth to compunction, true prayer, heartfelt singing and thanksgiving.

Avoid, then, standing bodily in church while wandering outside the church in mind, and standing bodily before God while wandering about in spirit in worldly affairs, lest that saying be applied to you, “his people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me” (Mt. 15:8).

While standing bodily in church, then, stand with heart and spirit as you stand before God. When you look upon the icons of the saints, call to mind that One is the Creator that created them and you, and that His purpose was the same for them as it is for you, that is, to save both them and you.

They are glorified, and before you lies the same glory, only imitate their lives and you shall be saved.

Prayer consists not only in standing and bowing before God in body, and in reading written prayers, but even without that it is possible to pray in mind and spirit at all times and in everyplace.

You can do it while walking, sitting, reclining, among people, and in solitude. Raise up your mind and heart to God, and so beg mercy and help from Him.

For God is everywhere and in every place, and the doors to Him are always open, and it is easy to approach Him, not as with man.

And we can approach Him with faith and with our prayer everywhere and at all times, and in every need and circumstance. We can say to Him mentally at any time, “Lord, have mercy, Lord help!” and so on.

Tikhon of Zadonsk (1724-1783; Russian Orthodox): extract @ Kandylaki from Journey to Heaven: Counsels On the Particular Duties of Every Christian by Our Father Among the Saints, Tikhon of Zadonsk, Bishop of Voronezh and Elets (Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 2004).

4 thoughts on “It is easy to approach Him…

  1. albert

    It is good to hear words like these. I have heard them before from different sources, but each person’s expression is unique and so deepens the meaning. Thank you, Mary.

    One clarification: I think perhaps that ”easy” has two meanings here. The one is a matter of faith, believing that God actually is everywhere present and interested in me. The other meaning suggests that it is not hard to pray. I’m still stuck in that one . . .

    for many reasons, most significantly: I put off the important things and get easily absorbed in curiosities, little pleasures, and what I imagine are big responsibilities. Fortunately God takes a patient, fatherly attitude (so I believe, and hope).

  2. mary Post author

    Again, I appreciate your reflections, Al. Much to ponder, even in the single word “easy”.

    I agree about the matter of faith. Of course, it would not be easy to approach God if we believed He was critical and wanting to condemn us, rather than awaiting our move toward Him with unconditional love.

    Interesting thought about whether it is “easy to pray”. A lot of what we consider hard or easy depends, I think, on our expectations and subsequent judgments of ourselves. I “should” do this, I didn’t and therefore I’m not good at it, it is hard, etc…

    While I know we must hold ourselves accountable lest we become lazy, in a whole other sense, I think we need to humbly recognize that we are totally helpless unless God helps us – which He does. We are given the Spirit (see Romans 8:26 “the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought”).

    With the Spirit praying with us and in us (something we should always ask for), we learn to pray “as we ought”, i.e. without ceasing. Prayer becomes “easy” as we trust in the Spirit that has been given us – because we do not have to rely on our own strength and goodness.

    Just my thoughts. Interested in any further reflections you or other readers have.

  3. albert

    I have read about the Spirit praying with us, Mary, and I believe it though I have no real sense of what it means. In fact, I have long been puzzled by the parts in the Gospels where Jesus goes off by himself to pray. To put it crudely, what would He, God, have to say to God? This is tied to the faith-concept of the Trinity, which no one grasps, so it’s not surprising that I would be puzzled. I think the best thing for me is not to think about it.

    But I am left wondering what exactly prayer is–not the formal prayer of the church, and not the written prayers left to us by holy men and women; but private prayer, one-way talking prayer. Christ told us to pray in private, but then he told us what to say (as in the “Our Father”). Later on, and even now, certain Orthodox monks and teachers have held up the so-called “Jesus prayer” as an example of praying always. But what kind of father/son or father/daughter relationship would that be if the one kept asking over and over for mercy from the other? I think I like Ed Hays’ idea better, as suggested by the title of his book “Pray All Ways.”

    I was taught way back that prayer is “the lifting of the mind and heart to God.” Maybe that doesn’t require words. On the other hand, without deliberate words, active use of language, whether reading or speaking, aloud or in our heads, the mind makes up its own words, rambling around through memories, anxieties, dreams, plans.

    So these are some things that approaching God not so “easy” for me. I do OK in church. When the priest and choir are leading me, I join in. It feels natural. Paul’s instruction to “pray always” doesn’t. But that’s probably because I don’t yet know what that means. I want to learn, however; and I trust God. So for now I’ll stick to reading prayers, saying a few respectful thankyous and pleases, and leave the rest to the Spirit. And I’ll try to remember to do those things regularly, and often. (Recently I came to appreciate why some people carry a rosary in their pocket or purse. Or wear crosses. Icons help too. And candles, incense, bells, and the like)

  4. mary Post author

    Thanks again for your thoughts, Al. I’ve been pondering them and may write a post on prayer. If God so wills, of course. Such a profound topic.

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