“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” [Psalm 126, vv5-6].
Our prayers should come from our whole being: mind, heart, and soul. This will be a familiar idea to most Christians, and we know that for our prayers to touch the heart of our loving God, we must strive to be “in tune” with Him, directed by the Holy Spirit. But we
have said “our whole being”, and this means our emotions as well.
There will be occasions in our prayer life when we are so filled with joy and thanksgiving that we may feel inclined to almost do what King David did – dance and sing and laugh before the Lord! But it is equally true that on many occasions our prayers should be accompanied by tears. Tears of repentance, tears of grief, tears of sorrow as we bear up someone in trouble to the Throne of Grace.
When was the last time we prayed with tears? Our tears contain and express all the wonder we feel as we think about the sacrifice of our Savior on the cross. We share the tears of the Mother of God, the Saints and the Martyrs. The whole Church, in its daily task of revealing to Gospel to all men, should weep for the waywardness of men’s hearts, the continuing battle against the temptations of “the world”. We see, every day, the wickedness of man against man, and our prayers surely must come with weeping.
The Creator Himself of both heaven and earth hears our prayers, and He particularly loves to hear us pray with tears. Our prayers should always burn with love for God, and His Church - and that means everyone within the Church - as well as those who are our enemies. You may say, “I haven’t an enemy in the world – what are you talking about?” Any enemy of God, those who reject the truth of the Gospel, who fight against our beliefs, who promote false religions or no religion at all, are our enemies as well.
It always comes down to the fact that if we love our enemies, then we begin to know the Lord and the sweetness of the great grace of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit teaches us to love our enemies – just as our Lord Jesus loved those who persecuted Him, and prayed for them - so that our soul pities them as if they were our own children.
Sadly enough, our sinful nature makes us people who desire destruction, not least for those who try to destroy our Church. This happens because we have failed the call that we should weep for them as we pray. We must seek the Holy Spirit to teach us afresh how to pray, how to be enfolded in the love of God. He who has learned the love of God will indeed shed many tears for the whole world.
Of course it is not right, as pious Orthodox Christians, that we should judge anyone, nor desire punishment or torments for God’s enemies. He alone can do this, and we know that He is a merciful and gracious God, not willing that anyone should perish, but come to the knowledge of the truth.
What a surprise it would be to find a person we have judged sharing the same paradise with us! For we all need the truth and blessing of God, His forgiveness and mercy. Standing in the paradise of God, we would see that we had made a terrible mistake by being judgmental towards our enemy. We would learn that God forgave our enemy through prayer and tearful repentance – just as He forgave us.
It is crucially important that not one of us should have, spiritually, a heart of stone. Stone hearts have no life, and are useless in the loving service of our Savior. There is no place for a hard heart in the Kingdom of God. In that Kingdom, in His paradise, is gentleness and humility and the love of Christ, who pities all mankind.
The grace of our Lord God does not dwell in the person who does not love his enemies. The great grace of our Savior Jesus Christ is with that person who loves all mankind, and prays with tears for his enemies.
So, to return to the Psalm with which we began, let our prayers for the world be sown in tears, so that our Lord may bring about the rich harvest of saved souls, men and women turned from being enemies of God into being his loving servants. The prospect that devoted prayer, with weeping, may bring about the transformation of the world, is surely too wonderful to miss!
Peace to your soul!
Humbly In The Love Of Christ Our Lord,
+Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
Who prays for you!
Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church
Glory Be To God For All Things!