Besides fasting and alms-giving, prayer is one of three critical spiritual activities for an Orthodox Christian (Matthew 6:1-18). All grace and virtues are attained primarily by prayer and humility, and daily prayer is vital to a healthy spiritual life.
We pray as a habit, and not only when we feel like praying or in times of an emergency. We call this habit a “prayer rule,” and it’s similar to how a musician habitually practices his craft, or how an athlete regularly trains for a contest. If we don’t pray according to some pattern, we will soon discover that we don’t pray very well or very often. The majority of Orthodox Christians pray as follows:
- Every Morning and Evening (e.g. some form of Matins/Vespers).
Before eating, to ask God to bless the food before us so that it may enter our bodies undefiled (the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
- As often as possible a little prayer called the Jesus Prayer. We generally use a prayer rope to help us count the prayers too. The Jesus Prayer is one of the most powerful weapons against Satan, and it’s also the richest source for increasing virtues and internal grace. It goes as follows: “Lord Jesus Christ Have Mercy On Me.” A longer version of this is “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
If you don’t already have a prayer rule, please visit the following website to see a sample of one so that you may create your own habit: http://www.orthodoxprayer.org/Prayer%20Rule.html