Bishop Hilarion on Prayer and Silence  

Posted by Joe Rawls

Hilarion Alfeyev (b 1966) is a bishop in the Russian Orthodox Church. He serves in Vienna and is also the representative of the Russian church to the European Union. He attended Oxford--his dissertation supervisor was Kallistos Ware--and he completed his doctorate in the obscenely short time of two years. Bp Hilarion is the author of The Mystery of Faith (Darton, Longman & Todd, London 2002), a very fine introduction to Orthodoxy. To top things off, he is also a composer. His website is available here.

I recently came across an article of his titled "Prayer and Silence" which is especially appropriate Lenten reading. The excerpts below are particularly relevant. should remember that prayer is not just a request for something; it is first of all an encounter with Someone, a dialogue with the living God...In prayer we encounter the personal God who hears us and responds to us, Who is always ready to come to our assistance, Who never betrays us even if we betray Him many times. In prayer we communicate with the sublime Reality which is the only true Life; compared to it, every other reality is partial and imperfect. Life without communion with God, without prayer, is but a long pathway towards death, a gradual dying. We live insofar as we participate in God, and we participate in God through prayer...

An experience of stillness is essential for every person who wants to learn the art of prayer. to achieve this experience, one should not necessarily withdraw into the desert. But one has to put aside some minutes every day, go into one's room, "shut the door and pray to God Who is in secret". Our usual temptation, or deception, is that we are always very busy and forever rush to do something extremely important: we believe that if we spend too much time in prayer, we will not have the opportunity to do these important things. The experience of many people shows that half an hour spent in prayer seldom effects our "business" negatively, in spite of our initial concerns. On the contrary, prayer teaches one to concentrate more, to make one's mind more disciplined: as a result time is won rather than lost.

The lack of taste for solitude and silence is one of the most common illnesses of the modern person. Many are even scared of remaining in stillness, being alone or having free time; they feel more comfortable being constantly occupied; they need words, impressions; they always hasten in order to have the illusion of an abundant and saturated life. But life in God begins when words and thoughts fall silent, when worldly cares are forgotten, and when a place within the human soul is freed to be filled by Him.

This entry was posted on Sunday, March 22, 2009 at Sunday, March 22, 2009 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Post a Comment