Editor’s note: To help readers enhance their prayer life, not only during Great Lent but throughout the year, the Orthodox Observer will present selected prayers by Archbishop Demetrios from his recent book “Speaking to God.”
My God, I don’t know how to pray. Yet I so deeply feel in myself the need for prayer. I want to pray. Hour by hour the intense longing to talk with You altogether comes over me. The longing to come into contact with You, the Ineffable and Unfathomable. But I lose the words. I cannot piece together what I mean. My thoughts become confused. So often I don’t know what to say, while I understand that I have so much to say. Something indefinite, confused, something without shape or form, is in movement within me. A whole world of ideas, feelings, thoughts, and experiences is in a constant tidal wave within me. I do not want to hide from You, God.
In the past years I have prayed but little. From the time I was a child, in my last few years of elementary school, until today, prayer seemed to be almost absent from my life. Therefore even now that the thirst for contact with You burns me up like fire, I cannot--I do not know how to talk to You. I try to pray, and the same words I used to use when I was a child come to my mouth. But in the condition that I am in today, they seem so strange and foreign that I am embarrassed to use them in prayer.
I beg You, Almighty God: Teach me how to pray. Speak to me. Show me by what divine art I can commune with You. I am sitting at Your feet ready to listen to You. Right now my eyes are fixed only upon You. The same old question burns my lips as that which Your Apostles asked, Lord, teach us to pray.