“A wise custom of the ancient Holy Fathers: when greeting each other, they didn’t ask about health or anything else, but rather about prayer, saying “How is your prayer?” Prayer was considered by them to a be a sign of the spiritual life, and they called it the breath of the spirit. If the body has breath, it lives; if breathing stops, life comes to an end. So it is with the spirit. If there is prayer, the soul lives; without prayer, there is no spiritual life.“ +St. Theophan the Recluse
Such beautiful singing in the background. As, I stated in the previous post, I am reading/studying the book of the bible, Wisdom of Solomon. Why would I study the bible and yet write about whether or not it is important to read your bible? I’m not trying to be tricky.
Jesus did not say the He was going to write a book for us. He said He was building us a church. It’s foundation would be the faith of Peter. Matt 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
I have a confession to make, I never enjoyed reading my bible as much as I felt I should have. I had the bad habit of reading scripture and making mental notes of those people I felt were missing the mark. I had a hard time focusing the light of self examination on myself. I still struggle a bit with that prideful flaw. I endeavor to do better each time I open my bible.
Coming to the Orthodox chruch has helped me to think of myself when I read scripture and not to focus on what I think others are doing wrong in their lives as Christians but rather how is it that I might become a better Christian? How might I prepare myself for spending an eternity in the presence of the One who made me? Instead of just reading scripture, I needed to walk it out as best I could. Instead of reading books on how to pray, I needed to practice praying. Instead of making excuses on why I should not give money to the poor (they’ll waste it, it will encourage them to be lazy, etc.) I began to give more in obedience to the word of God. Not a vast amount but better than what I had been doing which was almost nothing. In Orthodoxy, we focus on; prayer, fasting, attending church and giving alms. Yes, we read our bibles and we read writings about saints and ancient fathers, etc., but it is better to walk out the word of God even if we are lax in reading our bible- than to read the bible and turn our backs on what it tells us to do.
If it’s been a while since you last prayed, pray. If you have walked past someone begging on a street corner perhaps tomorrow you could drop a dollar or $2 or $5 into their hand? Has it been a while since you walked through the doors of a church? Go. Shake hands with people and smile at them. You will not die for it. As my parish priest keeps telling us, ‘There are no prideful people in heaven and no humble people in hell.’.
Please understand, I am NOT telling you to not read your bible. Read it… YES! But do not neglect to walk it out.
Photo from Unsplash. Taken by Bennet Dungan.