Saturday, May 3, 2014

Do Christians pray?

People tell me that they have a hard time crossing themselves in public or even praying over a meal. Strangers will stare and sometimes shake their heads or even laugh while making comments to their friends. It is difficult because it seems that our society is bent on removing all references to God from the public realm. Being Orthodox today can make you feel like a ‘fish out of water’ …

If we practice piety in public, we feel foolish. Wanting to be respectable and fit in, we are loathe to practice piety where others will see us and criticize us. I once heard Fr Daniel Byantoro, an Orthodox priest from Indonesia, say that the conversation between Muslims might go something like this: ‘Muhammad, do Christians pray?’ ‘I don’t know, Kareem, I’ve never seen them pray. Have you?’ ‘Mohammad, do Christians fast?’ ‘I don’t know, Kareem, I’ve never seen them fast. Have you?’ ‘I wonder, Mohammad, if they believe in God at all.’ ‘Kareem, there is no way to tell.’

Now, it is against the law to try to convert Muslims to Christianity, but Fr Daniel says that they are beginning to have greater success. How is this possible? Well, each day Fr. Daniel goes into the bell tower and calls the Christians to come and pray the Hours. The Muslims are amazed. Then when they come to visit, they are shocked. ‘You prostrate! Allah be praised. Your women cover their heads and are modest. Allah be praised. You fast…what….180 days of the year? Impossible! That is more than we do.’ By the practice of piety, the power of the Faith is made real to them.

— Fr John Moses, Almond Joy Orthodoxy

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