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  #1  
Unread 5th November 2011, 09:40 AM
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I Turned To God, But I Still Need Help

Hi guys, I am an Orthodox christian from Bulgaria. Let me tell you my story .

Two years ago I was a student in the Technical University. I don't smoke, I drink sometimes, never tried drugs or anything. I wanted to love everyone, I am good willed, but didn't cherish God so much. I was doing good things, but because I think this is the right way, not because of God. I trusted in God, but I trusted in me more.
One month before my graduation I got sick. I had Colitis and other stuff. I was in a very bad condition. Doctors here say, "hay what's the matter with you, you don't have cancer". But I was bad. And then I turned to God. I began to trust in him. I was telling myself, "I will do what is needed and God will help me. And he did!!! I feel fine now.

But I still don't understand some things. I do read The Bible, but I don't know how to pray. I don't like the idea to read some written prayers. Is it more right to pray with words coming from you, or it's right to pray using standard prayers? I live like a christian I go to church and I have problems I can't handle myself and want to ask god for help. Generally I am strong willed man and know how to achieve everything but now I know that if you don't ask God for help, you will generally fail.
Will you please give me site or materials on how to pray right and everything about the orthodox way of praying?
Cos, here in Bulgaria the orthodox church is very closed as a society. You go there you pray, light a candle and that's it. I now go to a protestant church, cos they meet and talk to each other, but their believes are a little different. So I want to discus the orthodox way with you guys .
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  #2  
Unread 5th November 2011, 11:55 AM
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Hi Dr,
I'll bet that even in Bulgaria, attitudes toward visitors vary from one parish to another. (I'm an American living in Russia, so think I can say this). You need to approach a priest, and ask him who you can talk to for guidance. Protestants may be fun, and they may fill a temporary emotional need, but in the long run, you want truth more than fun or a good time. Good times will not set you free.

You are free to pray from your own heart. You can certainly say what is in your own heart to God. But Jesus said "When you pray, pray like this..." and He gave us a model. So we use His model in the formation of our written prayers. They tell us what we SHOULD be praying about, rather than a "me-centered" approach to prayer.

I'll bet dollars to doughnuts (that is, almost anything) that there are intelligent and caring Bulgarian Orthodox Christians that do more than merely light candles. You just haven't found them yet. So by all means pray, both your own prayers and from a prayer book, and find some good people. You'll generally find them doing charity work, so just inquire how you can help poor people, old people, at orphanages and where thete is a Church ministry for that, and you'll find good people.

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  #3  
Unread 5th November 2011, 12:02 PM
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As a lifelong Roman Catholic, I find nothing more perfect and organic than the Jesus Prayer. I had heard of it before I started exploring Orthodoxy, but it is not terribly significant in the RCC, so I mostly ignored it.
Still, you are like me, just beginning to understand faith and prayer, and for my money, nothing I could think of on my own or read is more perfect.

Last edited by RKO; 5th November 2011 at 12:02 PM. Reason: typos
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Unread 5th November 2011, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by DrCIH View Post
Hi guys, I am an Orthodox christian from Bulgaria. Let me tell you my story .

Two years ago I was a student in the Technical University. I don't smoke, I drink sometimes, never tried drugs or anything. I wanted to love everyone, I am good willed, but didn't cherish God so much. I was doing good things, but because I think this is the right way, not because of God. I trusted in God, but I trusted in me more.
One month before my graduation I got sick. I had Colitis and other stuff. I was in a very bad condition. Doctors here say, "hay what's the matter with you, you don't have cancer". But I was bad. And then I turned to God. I began to trust in him. I was telling myself, "I will do what is needed and God will help me. And he did!!! I feel fine now.

But I still don't understand some things. I do read The Bible, but I don't know how to pray. I don't like the idea to read some written prayers. Is it more right to pray with words coming from you, or it's right to pray using standard prayers? I live like a christian I go to church and I have problems I can't handle myself and want to ask god for help. Generally I am strong willed man and know how to achieve everything but now I know that if you don't ask God for help, you will generally fail.
Will you please give me site or materials on how to pray right and everything about the orthodox way of praying?
Cos, here in Bulgaria the orthodox church is very closed as a society. You go there you pray, light a candle and that's it. I now go to a protestant church, cos they meet and talk to each other, but their believes are a little different. So I want to discus the, orthodox way with you guys .
You said you go to a Protestant church because they like to talk, and that is fine to a point. As as Orthodox you have the Sacraments and especially the Holy Eucharist. Aren't they a whole lot better for your spiritual life than just sitting around talking?
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Unread 5th November 2011, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Vermax View Post
You said you go to a Protestant church because they like to talk, and that is fine to a point. As as Orthodox you have the Sacraments and especially the Holy Eucharist. Aren't they a whole lot better for your spiritual life than just sitting around talking?
You might be right. My heart goes out to anyone who lacks friends and family with which he can share his faith. This also has to be taxing to the spirit.
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  #6  
Unread 5th November 2011, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by DrCIH View Post
Hi guys, I am an Orthodox christian from Bulgaria. Let me tell you my story .

Two years ago I was a student in the Technical University. I don't smoke, I drink sometimes, never tried drugs or anything. I wanted to love everyone, I am good willed, but didn't cherish God so much. I was doing good things, but because I think this is the right way, not because of God. I trusted in God, but I trusted in me more.
One month before my graduation I got sick. I had Colitis and other stuff. I was in a very bad condition. Doctors here say, "hay what's the matter with you, you don't have cancer". But I was bad. And then I turned to God. I began to trust in him. I was telling myself, "I will do what is needed and God will help me. And he did!!! I feel fine now.

But I still don't understand some things. I do read The Bible, but I don't know how to pray. I don't like the idea to read some written prayers. Is it more right to pray with words coming from you, or it's right to pray using standard prayers? I live like a christian I go to church and I have problems I can't handle myself and want to ask god for help. Generally I am strong willed man and know how to achieve everything but now I know that if you don't ask God for help, you will generally fail.
Will you please give me site or materials on how to pray right and everything about the orthodox way of praying?
Cos, here in Bulgaria the orthodox church is very closed as a society. You go there you pray, light a candle and that's it. I now go to a protestant church, cos they meet and talk to each other, but their believes are a little different. So I want to discus the orthodox way with you guys .
Here's a good site about prayer:

Orthodox Prayer: Daily Prayer, Jesus Prayer, Lord's Prayer, Prayer Rule, Articles and Books, Prayers for All Occasions; Praying to Saints
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"Let us therefore beseech God that He would put off the old man from us ; because He alone is able to take away sin from us, for those that have taken us captive, and that detain us in their kingdom, are too mighty for us. But He has promised to deliver us from this sore bondage."

From Macarius, The Fifty Great Spiritual Homilies. Homily II.

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." John 8:34
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  #7  
Unread 5th November 2011, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by DrCIH View Post
Hi guys, I am an Orthodox christian from Bulgaria. Let me tell you my story .
Welcome to The Ancient Way forum - thank you for sharing your story with us.

Two years ago I was a student in the Technical University. I don't smoke, I drink sometimes, never tried drugs or anything. I wanted to love everyone, I am good willed, but didn't cherish God so much. I was doing good things, but because I think this is the right way, not because of God. I trusted in God, but I trusted in me more.
It is good that you recognize that though your actions were good, they stemmed from a self-trust, rather than a trust-in-God. We should always celebrate good works (as anyone loving their neighbor is, in a way, loving Christ), but I think our reasons have to be sound. If we help others because we want to (e.g. because we think it is right) that motive can change; it can shift - at some point it may not be convenient to help another or show them love. It is a self-focused sort of charity that, though capable of much good, can also lead to a hypocritical sort of life (or at least, I see that in America among rich liberals a lot).

But if charity stems from faith in God, we know we have to trust Him to provide for us - we can give as though we were dead to the world, give and help and love with abandon. That doesn't mean we are fools or irresponsible - we know that part of love is holding what we've been given with responsibility (e.g. we still save money, take care of our family, work a regular job, etc.) - but it means that when a need presents itself to us that we can responsibly fill, we can do so without reservation.

Faith in God can be a tremendous aid in helping us love our neighbor consistently and without hypocrisy.

One month before my graduation I got sick. I had Colitis and other stuff. I was in a very bad condition. Doctors here say, "hay what's the matter with you, you don't have cancer". But I was bad.
I've seen Colitis before - it is definitely hard to cope with. The impact on nutritional intake alone can completely destroy one's energy and willpower. It is an exhausting disease and a chronic condition. Did the doctors get you on a good medication for it? I know it can be managed if the right medicine is provided.
And then I turned to God. I began to trust in him. I was telling myself, "I will do what is needed and God will help me. And he did!!! I feel fine now.
That is good - there are wonderful psalms in our Scriptures that speak of how our physical ailments can turn us back towards God. The ultimate expression of this is Christ on the Cross. In death, the ultimate physical ailment (so to speak), we are confronted with the absolute nature of our finitude - that we are helpless; utterly helpless. Thus, in death, we can finally let go of ourselves and be in God. Christ's death shows us this - His death was His perfect act of absolute obedience to His Father.

Your colitis, then, acted like a "little martyrdom" - it helped you confront your need for God. What a gift from God, then! That He can turn even our diseases into means of glorifying Him.

Be careful, though, if you aren't on good medicine for the colitis. It can be episodic (go away and come back, go away and come back). If it returns, do not take it as some sign that God no longer favors you; our bodies break down - ultimately, we all die. Even Lazarus, whom Christ raised from the dead, still died again years later and rests now in the grave (though he also lives on in Christ, in whom there is no real death).

But I still don't understand some things.
I think that goes for all of us

I do read The Bible,
Good. How do you read it? E.G. do you read it as the Protestants do? Because they tend to read it quite differently from the Orthodox (in terms of how they approach it / think about it). It is good to read the Scriptures, but they have to be read with understanding; one book (II Peter) even warns against reading Scriptures privately (e.g. without an Orthodox teacher), as that can lead one unintentionally away from the Truth.

but I don't know how to pray.
That's the real challenge, isn't it?

I don't like the idea to read some written prayers. Is it more right to pray with words coming from you, or it's right to pray using standard prayers?
Both are good. St. John of Krondstadt, a Russian saint from the early 1900's, recommended both. Why? Well, like you point out, prayers that come from you naturally involve YOU in the prayer - it builds the relationship between you and God, and allows you to say what you need to God. God listens and, I believe, is pleased by such prayer. He wants US - He loves US - and prayers "coming from you" bring you into communion with Him.

So why pray the "standard" prayers? Several reasons.

First, they teach us. Those prayers were prayers designed to educated the person praying in a proper attitude by which to approach God.

Second, they help us "see the big picture." Often, prayers that come JUST from us tend to revolve around whatever particular thing we're concerned about on a given day. Those concerns are very subjective, and can shift with our whims. It leads to an inconsistent sort of prayer (or one completely focused on one aspect of prayer: petition, repentance, etc.). The "standard" or pre-written prayers ensure that, when we pray, we pray for ALL the things we ought to pray for. They ensure that we glorify God in our prayers, thank God in our prayers, ask for repentance in our prayers, petition God for all His good things in our prayers, and commune with the saints in Christ in our prayers.

Third, those prewritten prayers integrate us into the Church. They help us to know obedience to the Church (as the Church provides them), and they are prayers prayed by saints who have gone before us - we know they are effective prayers because we have seen the sanctity they produce. Thus, when we pray them, we pray WITH the saints - we pray IN the community of the Church. If we ONLY pray words that come from us, then we pray to God on our own (e.g. relying on ourselves); if we pray the standard prayers in addition to our own, then we show ourselves to be relying on the good gifts of God given to us through the Church by the Holy Spirit.

Fourth, those prewritten prayers are ascetic. They are repetitive; even boring; and the same day-in and day-out. They don't change. In that, they ask us to let go of our need for payer to be "exciting" or "engaging." They ask us to make prayer about God - not about our experience of prayer. Paradoxically, this ascetic aspect of prayer (that it asks us to lay ourselves aside and be present to God) DOES make our prayer more engaging since it is ONLY by ascesis that we can actually engage with God. But we cannot expect God to show up on our terms; we have to show up on HIS.

None of that is to diminish the importance of praying words that come from you. Those words are also necessary and good. It is a combination of both, according to St. John, that is most effective.

I live like a christian I go to church and I have problems I can't handle myself and want to ask god for help. Generally I am strong willed man and know how to achieve everything but now I know that if you don't ask God for help, you will generally fail.
Sometimes those failures are themselves gifts from God (for example, the health issues that helped you turn towards God). Generally, as one draws closer to God, one's life gets more difficult - not easier. God gives us only what we can handle. As we are strengthened spiritually, He allows us more and more to know our own brokenness until, finally, we die. And if we die with faith - if we die IN Christ (as opposed to apart from Him), then our death can glorify God as Christ's did; our death can be a martyrdom. And if we die such a death, we know that we will rise with Christ on the last day.

Will you please give me site or materials on how to pray right and everything about the orthodox way of praying?
Cos, here in Bulgaria the orthodox church is very closed as a society. You go there you pray, light a candle and that's it. I now go to a protestant church, cos they meet and talk to each other, but their believes are a little different. So I want to discus the orthodox way with you guys .
A parish generally is the best place to get those resources locally. I know how to find them in the places I've lived (Seattle and New York in the USA), but not in Bulgaria. I would think, given the Orthodox presence in your culture, that there would be more available to you, but I could be wrong.

I'm sorry to hear that your experiences have been so negative at Orthodox services. The lack of community can, indeed, be discouraging. Have you tried hunting around a bit and trying out different Orthodox parishes? There may be one that has more of the community you are looking for. Also, contact with a local Orthodox priest or monastic elder (to help you in your spiritual life) is absolutely essential to the Orthodox way. Regular reception of the sacraments (especially confession and eucharist) is absolutely central to the Orthodox life, as are the ascetic disciplines of prayer, fasting, and alms (see Matthew chapter 6).

You are also, of course, more than welcome to fellowship with us here. We'll help as we can - but there are limits as to what we can do since we're just an online community.

Your brother in Christ,
Macarius
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Unread 5th November 2011, 08:21 PM
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I think something to help, is just remember the words of the justified publican, "Lord have mercy on me, a sinner." it is not the quantity of the prayer that matters.

welcome to TAW!
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Unread 5th November 2011, 09:25 PM
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Wow! I have never seen such a will to help, to explain in just an online community. I thank you all for your responses and will answer to each and every one of you .

Generally in Bulgaria orthodox is the official religion and all of us are orthodox, but only on paper. However, that is not like that with me.

@rusmeister
The protestants have become my friends. Yes they are different from me and my believes. The difference is very little, but there is some. The reason why I turned directly to God is, that here in Bulgaria, the orthodox church is a place where you go, light a candle and ... do out that's it. They take money to marry you and other stuff. In my city, there is no community of orthodox christian church. The only people who go to the church are grandmothers and beggars, who actually are healthy and can work, but begging is easier. That's why I begun going to a protestant church. I have tried to find people like me, but ... I couldn't.

@Vermax
I go to a protestant church, cos here in the church only grandmas go, cry and ... where is nothing I can say to them. Noone talks to anyone and I need to discuss my life with a christian. I need to know my way is right, I need someone to feel like me. I want to show people I love them, but guys think I'm gay, which is strange cos i have a bass voice, and girls think I'm in love with them and what's worse they act as an importaint lady. People don't even want to be loved. Those protestant are the closest thing I could get to the kind of person I want to be.

@SoulFoodEater
Thank you very much for the web site I will take a look at it.

@Macarius
Wow , when I read your post I was astonished by your wisdom.
I want to tell you what happened today. Some of the protestants don't know that I am an orthodox which is normal cos, we are all christian people, right? And we should accept each other and love . When I told them that I was an orthodox they began with. "What? So you pray to icons, that is a sin. You pray to saints, this is not right, you must pray only and directly to God". And I said, "Well I even pray to orcs and trolls and other stuff".I tried to explain them that the icon is just a sign of your love to God or Jesus, or a portrait of a man who also loved God.
And another thing. I also explained that we don't pray to saints. We say prayers tat saints have once said. I have never ever thought of praying anything else than God. But what happen then? When I went home I found an orthodox praying book, in Bulgarian and there were prayers directly to saints . I myself don't like the idea of me or anyone else to pray to something else than God himself. Please explain me those things about praying to saints. Is it right to pray to saints and why?

Guys I want to thank you for all of your help and cooperation on my way to knowing God. I am happy to join your community.

And last but not least ... as you said, that a pray needs to come from the heart and to fit God's will. Why don't I try to pray with you .


Oh God, You who gave me life and everything around me, I thank you for my health and for all the other things I have. If it wasn't for you I wouldn't have gone this far. You who have always protected me. Give me strenght, to find the right path in those areas in my life, where I haven't. God, give all the people chance to see, that without you and without the love you have given to them and which they have almost forgotten, they are lost. Give them strenght to let go of any hate and anger and begin to see things simple and pure. Give them health, because it is the biggest gift of them all.
Amen
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Unread 5th November 2011, 10:19 PM
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