0. Before we even begin, we ask
forgiveness of any whom we may have offended, and forgive from our whole
heart all who have offended us. “If you are offering your gift at
the altar and there remember that your brother has something against
you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled
with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”1. By keeping a serious fast.
As the Lord kept a fast of forty days in preparation for his spiritual
combat, so do we. The fast is designed to cut down on foods that
contribute to the passions and to weaken our carnal appetites; to make
us more ready for prayer, because it is impossible to pray on a full
stomach; and to make us realize more intensely our dependence on God –
man does not live by bread alone.For adults in good health, the
Church generally counsels abstention from all animal products (meat and
dairy), with the exception of fish with no backbones. [Shellfish were
the poor man’s diet in the ancient world. Lobster, far from being a
delicacy, was considered poor fare indeed.] When in doubt, consult your spiritual father. Fasting is not a straight jacket.Of course, there is no point in
keeping a fast from food if we will merely take out our frustrations on
our brothers and sisters, and generally have a rotten attitude. We fast from sin as well as from foods.Oh, and don’t forget, fasting
does not mean that we scrupulously avoid every trace of meat and dairy,
only to gorge ourselves on “fasting” food. Gluttony comes in many forms.And finally, keep your eyes on your own plate.
2. By more frequent and intense prayer.
If we have gotten sloppy in our prayer life, this is the time to get
back on track. Daily prayer, in morning and evening, is a good thing for
every Christian. Don’t have an Orthodox prayer book? Get one! Don’t have a prayer rope? Get one!
Practice saying the Jesus prayer during the day, while driving, while
walking, while sitting, during the night, while standing in front of
your icon corner, while lying in bed . . . Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!
Read the rest.