“Even the desire to pray already is prayer”

“The one who prays is a theologian.” Absolutely, the one who prays is a theologian in the deepest, fundamental meaning of the term. Prayer in itself, whether we know it or not, whether we are fully aware of it or not, is a personal relationship of the human being to God, the trinitarian God. Prayer is always a movement—otherwise, it is not prayer—an élan, a murmuring of the Holy Spirit in the heart.

According to the Fathers, even the desire to pray already is prayer. St Ignatius of Antioch, that great martyr of the beginning of the second century and a disciple of John the Theologian, says in his Letter to the Romans: “There is a living water that murmurs in me, ‘Come to the Father'” (vii:2). Likewise, St Seraphim of Sarov says that we do not cease calling upon the Holy Spirit, but when He is in us, we no longer need to invoke Him. In true prayer, it is no longer I who pray, but the Holy Spirit who prays in me.

In the letters of St Paul, two passages—which resemble each other and complete one another—better describe the mysterious action of the Holy Spirit in the human heart. “What you received was not the Spirit of slavery; you received the spirit of adoption, enabling us to cry out, ‘Abba, Father!'” (Rom 8:15). “God has sent into our hearts the Spirit of the Son crying, ‘Abba, Father!'” (Gal 4:6). …

So closely akin are prayer in the Spirit and the prayer of the Spirit in us, that in reality, it is hard to differentiate between the two. There is no tangible boundary, formal or rational. The two blend, but without a fusion of being with the Holy Spirit.

Fr Boris Bobrinskoy

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3 Responses to “Even the desire to pray already is prayer”

  1. Mike H says:

    How about the desire to have the desire to pray? Does that count?


  2. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    Even the desire to desire to desire to pray counts. 🙂


  3. mary says:

    Thank you – there is much wisdom here. This is the only way to “pray without ceasing”: to invite the Spirit to ever be praying within me. May it be so.

    (I could never be worthy of such a gift, but I desire it. May we all move more and more to welcoming the Spirit most fully.)


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