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Prayer as the manifestation of baptismal grace

Prayer as the manifestation of baptismal grace

“Although the baptismal Christ and indwelling Paraclete never cease for one moment to work within us, most of us–save on rare occasions–remain virtually unaware of this inner presence and activity. True prayer, then, signifies the rediscovery and ‘manifestation’ of baptismal grace. To pray is to pass from the state where grace is present in our hearts secretly and unconsciously, to the point of full inner perception and conscious awareness when we experience and feel the power of the Spirit directly and immediately.”

Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia, The Power of the Name: The Jesus Prayer in Orthodox Spirituality (Oxford: Fairacres/SLG Press, 1974), p. 3.

Archbishop Kallistos is aware that grace is also at work in those who have not been baptized, but there is something very powerful about this image of true prayer as the “rediscovery and manifestation of baptismal grace.” Surely, there are forms of apophatic discourse that would render this emphasis on experiencing and feeling the power of the Spirit suspect. And yet, true prayer is often exactly that, the rendering conscious of that which is happening within our hearts through the Trinitarian missions of Son and Spirit. If we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own, then grace is always, already at work within us conforming us, each in our own unique way, to the image of Christ. Prayer is the work of the Holy Spirit within us, wherein we share in the Sonship of Jesus Christ. It means being caught up in a web of loving relationships, flooded with the Gift of God’s own living charity, namely the Holy Spirit. And who would doubt that our spirit, when made alive to the presence of God’s Spirit, might be conscious of the same, as we become one Spirit with the Lord, just as Christ became one flesh with us, distinct yet inseparable in a union more intimate than any marriage.

The Rev. Bill Carroll serves as rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Athens, Ohio. His parish blog is at here.

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