Prayers by the Lake – XIX – by St. Nikolai of Zicha

XIX

Amidst the racket and ridicule of people my prayer rises toward You, O my King and my Kingdom. Prayer is incense, that ceaselessly censes my soul and raises it toward You, and draws You toward her.

Stoop down, my King, so that I may whisper to You my most precious secret, my most secret prayer, my most prayerful desire. You are the object of all my prayers, all my searching. I seek nothing except You, truly, only You.

What could I seek from You, that would not separate me from You? Should I seek to be Lord over a few stars, instead of reigning as Lord with You over all the stars?

Should I seek to be first among men? How shameful it would be fore me, when You would seat me at the last place at Your table!1

Should I seek for millions of human mouths to praise me? How horrible it would be for me, when all those mouths are filled with earth.2

Should I seek to be surrounded by the most precious ob¬jects from the entire world? How humiliating it would be for me for those objects to outlast me and be glistening even as earthen darkness fills my eyes!3

Should I seek for You not to separate me from my friends? Ah separate me, O Lord, separate me from my friends as soon as possible, because they are the thickest wall between You and me.

“Why should we pray,” say my neighbors, “when God does not hear our prayers?” But I say to them: “Your prayer is not prayer, but peddling merchandise. You do not pray to God to give you God but Satan. Therefore, the Wisdom of heaven does not accept the prayers from your tongue.”

“Why should we pray,” grumble my neighbors, “when God knows what we need beforehand?” But I sadly answer them: “That is true, God knows–that you need nothing except Him alone. At the door of your soul He is waiting to come in.4 Through prayer the doors are opened for the entrance of the majestic King. Does not one of you say to the other at your door: ‘Please enter’?

“God does not seek glory for Himself but for you. All the worlds in the universe can add nothing to His glory, much less can you. Your prayer is a glorification of you, not of God. Fullness and mercy are to be found in Him. All the good words that you direct to Him in prayer, return to you twofold.”

O my illustrious King and my God, to You alone I bow down and pray. Flood into me, as a raging stream into thirsty sand. Just flood me with Yourself, life-giving Water; then grass will easily grow in the sand and white lambs will graze in the grass.

Just flood into my parched soul, my Life and my Salvation.

________________
1. Cf. Luke 14:7-10.
2. Cf. John 12:43.
3. Matt. 6:19-21.
4. Cf. Rev. 3:20.

21 Responses to “Prayers by the Lake – XIX – by St. Nikolai of Zicha”

  1. Audra W Says:

    Thank you, so much, Father, for posting this.

  2. Mary Gail Says:

    Stunning.

  3. Margaret Says:

    I just needed to read, to “hear” this encouragement to pray. I pray that my heart is listening. I thank God for this.

  4. Lucias Says:

    Father Stephen,

    When the purpose of prayer is to solve problems, gain this or that, etc. the questions being asked of the author make sense.

    But I begin to see that when the purpose of prayer is to commune with God then the question makes no sense and the answer given by the author is obvious.

    The Orthodox perspective is unique and different from what I’ve seen before.

    Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Regards

  5. Ben Says:

    Amen.

  6. gerryma Says:

    Fr Stephen

    That is a beautiful prayer. I really felt it and prayed it as I read it through.

    The piece about friends, I wondered about. (separate me from my friends as soon as possible, because they are the thickest wall between You and me). I understand the thrust of it of course, but was also thinking that I have friends who support me in my faith and vice versa.

    I wondered if you would wish to expand on this thought.

    God’s Blessings upon you.

    Gerry

  7. shevaberakhot Says:

    So true.

  8. Stephen W. Says:

    “Why should we pray,” grumble my neighbors, “when God knows what we need beforehand?” But I sadly answer them: “That is true, God knows–that you need nothing except Him alone. At the door of your soul He is waiting to come in.4 Through prayer the doors are opened for the entrance of the majestic King. Does not one of you say to the other at your door: ‘Please enter’?

    This is very helpful for seeing prayer as a gift from God and not just something to ask for gifts.

    “Should I seek for You not to separate me from my friends? Ah separate me, O Lord, separate me from my friends as soon as possible, because they are the thickest wall between You and me.”

    As a Church we are to be one as Christ is one with God the father and the Holy Spirit. How do we do this yet seperate ourselves from our friends? Does this mean to seperate ourselves from the worry and stress that freindship can often bring, espically when you depend on someone and they let you down? Family can also be a wall between God and a person. Is there also a sense that once we have no walls between ourselves and God, then we are free to be connected to others and truly love them as they are?

  9. fatherstephen Says:

    Questions on “separate me from my friends” is not a general comment on friendship, exactly. St. Nikolai had been more or less separated from his friends and a shining place in society to serve as Bishop in very secluded place. Instead of mourning, he learned to call even more deeply on God. It is this to which he refers.

  10. Malorie/Natalia Says:

    To add to the part about friends, not that I would know or have any authority, but it made me think of Jesus’ words: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Substitute father/mother/son/daughter with friend. Anything on earth can get in the way of our relationship with God if we let it.

  11. fatherstephen Says:

    Well put and quite to the point.

  12. mic Says:

    i am not exactly sure how many excerpts you have posted from “Prayers by the Lake,” but every single one of them is exceedingly beautiful…i just ordered the book for myself!

    Thank you Fr., i had never heard of St. Nicolai of Zicha prior to reading your blogsite, so i am thankful that it is through you that i have heard of him.

    peace
    mic-

  13. Damjan Says:

    Благословите оче Стефане.

    Hi, I would like to find some of St. Nikolais works in French, especially the book “Thoughts on good and evil”. Does anyone know if this one is translated and published in French? If not in French, English can serve the purpose also.

    Thank you!

  14. fatherstephen Says:

    Damjan,

    I’ll check some sources. Surely he has been translated into French, I think to myself. One of his several doctoral degrees was from France. Not only a great saint, but a great scholar as well!

  15. William Says:

    Damjan

    You can order from Amazon in France, even if you don’t live in France. Here’s the link:

    http://www.amazon.fr/Pri%C3%A8res-sur-lac-Nicolas-V%C3%A9limirovitch/dp/2825119180

    Here’s another source:

    http://www.decitre.fr/livres/Prieres-sur-le-lac.aspx/9782825119181

  16. Damjan Says:

    @ William:
    Thank you for the links, I will get that one (Prayers by the lake), it’s wonderful. But the one I am particularly after is not listed neither in French amazon, nor in the other site (Decitre). I guess, it is not yet translated😦.

    @ Father Stephen:
    If you can come up with something, I will be very grateful.

  17. Damjan Says:

    Oh, and may the todays holyday be celbrated meny years in joy!
    Most holy Theotokos save us!
    Пресвета Богородице спаси нас!

  18. maggi francis Says:

    My Lord and my God what else i need in this strange world
    stretch out thine hand and envelope me in thine Divine Mercy amen.

  19. James Rocky Says:

    The example like knocking of doors of the heart is good enough. These thoughts make me provoked more and more in my writing of the book names “Father God” containing What is prayer? Whom should we pray? Who all should pray? Why should one pray? How should one pray? When should pray? and Where should play?

    James

  20. shevaberakhot Says:

    When Jesus is enthroned within, all these questions are answered.

    Steve

  21. Julia Says:

    I happened across this post while looking for Prayers by the Lake, and did a double-take when I saw the photo at the top of the post — that’s my priest! (http://allsaintsofamerica.us/theophany2004.html)

    I know this post is a couple of years old, but I’d like to add that the full text of Prayers by the Lake may be found at http://www.sv-luka.org/praylake/index.htm It’s still very much worth owning a printed copy, to be sure, but how wonderful to have such a resource online and available to all (and on all internet-connected devices, too)!

    Julia

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