I always adhere to the Great Lent and recommend all my parishioners not to refuse to attend church and pray during these days. It should be understood that fasting is not only the time when the diet is strictly limited to certain canons.
I always explain that its significance is so great that the refusal from fasting is sometimes even equated with sin. Now I will tell in detail about how the tradition of fasting arose, what is its meaning and what morning prayers are recommended to be offered during the Great Lent.
A reverent attitude to church posts: why did people fast?
Priests believe that Lent is a post with a capital letter that must be read and strictly observed. In ancient times, people attached great importance to this event. However, as we know, in more ancient times, all Christians were distinguished by special obedience. They tried not to miss the services, they regularly attended church every Sunday. It was believed that it was possible to miss the service in the temple only for a very serious reason. For example, if a person got sick and was unable to get up.
Since visiting the church and observing all the posts was obligatory for every self-respecting Christian, in the church environment one could often hear the following phrase: "I will come to visit you with a fast." This usually meant that the guest would pay a visit to Lent. However, there were exceptions. After all, there are quite a lot of posts. And if a person meant some other, he would definitely clarify this in a conversation.
It is noteworthy that every person who attends church regularly knows that worship during this period is very different. Because the prayers read in Lent are different. Even the famous prayer called “Lord, have mercy” on such days is sung in a very special way. This is another proof that the clergy highly appreciate the triumph.
Origin of church posts
Immediately it should be noted that the tradition of fasting has deep roots. It is believed that it was established at a time when the church used the Old Testament.
- The Jews, being believers, believed that fasting is a salvation for the soul.
- By training his body, depriving him of its excesses, a person got the opportunity to clear his mind and soul.
- The Jews fasted regularly. The days when food restrictions were imposed were Tuesday and Thursday. That is, twice a week they observed fasting.
When some people accepted Christianity, one problem arose. As it turned out, the church in those days did not make serious demands about the need to keep the post. Yes, and it was possible to listen to prayers on any given day. It was only about those posts that were considered mandatory.
It is said that this circumstance was the reason that Christians began to be accused of not wanting to keep strict commandments. In other words, they tried to accuse them of accepting a new faith solely in order to live more freely, because they did not have to fast two times a week.
Perhaps it was precisely this that influenced the decision of the church to introduce these posts. However, since it was impossible to allow the Jews and Christians to fast on the same days, it became necessary to choose other days. After much deliberation, the higher church leadership decided to introduce a post on Wednesday and Friday. This helped to stop any talk that Orthodox Christians are avoiding difficulties or unwilling to limit themselves to please the Savior.
The history of Lent
If we talk specifically about the Great Lent, then he has a somewhat different history of origin. We can say that he has a missionary background.
Delving into the history, it should be noted that initially the tradition of fasting existed among the pagans for 40 days. More precisely, the Orthodox Church introduced it to all pagans who wanted to adopt a new faith. It is a mistake to believe that baptism is a simple procedure. To prove the purity of intentions and their determination to come to the true God, people had to endure a strict fast. It was believed that he could help them realize the seriousness of the decision and prepare for a new life in which great importance will be given to faith.
It is noteworthy that in ancient times, when the Orthodox Church was only born, the number of baptized people was extremely small. This was explained not only by the fact that not many wanted to join the new church, to believe in God and Jesus Christ.
Most of them baptized only adults. The tradition to baptize newborns appeared much later. In those days, it was believed that man should come to God himself. And since the children actually did not realize which choice would be right, the ministers chose not to consecrate them to the sacrament. It is now considered that in this way a person loses the patronage of higher powers. Then very few people thought about it.
It is worth noting that it was possible to be baptized earlier only on certain days. As a matter of fact, offer morning prayers to Lent. Therefore, the decision had to be made in advance. And with this an important condition was his deliberation.
Fasting for Orthodox and Pagans
If a pagan could not sustain fasting, then he could not serve the Lord. That is what the Orthodox believed. However, the question arises, why in the end the fast, which was originally introduced exclusively for the pagans, began to be respected by all Orthodox? This is quite a logical question, which can be answered by considering a simple and even trivial situation.
Imagine that a Christian and a pagan live in the neighborhood. One day a pagan announces his intention to be baptized. After all, he, after reading the scriptures and prayers, found insight. His heart opened to the Lord, and he decided it was time to change his life and become a righteous man.
Of course, this decision was always perceived positively. Because every Christian felt his involvement in the fact that a person who was a pagan found his way to the Lord. And so, the neighbor's attempts to instruct the heathen to let the true one succeed. Coming to the house of a Christian, he talks about the difficulties of fasting and here he sees all kinds of dishes on the table. Naturally, resisting such a temptation is difficult, but possible. That's just every Christian, seeing the suffering of another person, tries to express participation. And so it is not difficult to assume that the neighbor will gladly give up eating various dishes to support the pagan.
Actually, this is how the tradition of fasting was born. Therefore, initially, Lent was considered a post of solidarity. For this reason, at that time, Christians who kept the fast offered prayers to heaven for people who had not yet come to faith. They sincerely prayed that the Lord would grant them enlightenment and allow them to enter his kingdom after death.
It is worth noting that the church initially introduced a new post in Passion Week. This tradition has been preserved to the present.
Do I need to comply with the post?
Each person must answer this question independently. The same applies to the question of the need to listen to prayers these days.
- Of course, Christians believe that non-observance of fasting has no excuse if it is not a serious illness.
- The Bible says that the Lord is loyal to the old, the children, and the weak. And therefore they are allowed not to comply with the post.
- All other believers whom health allows to fast need to do this.
In addition, it is very important to remember that Lent is not just a time when a ban is imposed on the use of certain foods. First of all, this is the time for the ascension of prayer.
It is extremely important to remember that a person develops spiritually only if he offers prayers to the Lord every day. Thus, he not only becomes closer to the Creator, but also gains spiritual strength. It is believed that the devil has no power over the soul of such a righteous man who prays daily.
Prayers in Lent
These days, priests recommend the use of morning prayers. But they tirelessly remind us that in fasting people should devote more time to prayers. If on ordinary days it is enough to read only 1-2 prayers, then in fasting one should think about raising them much more. Whatever prayer a Christian chooses from a prayer book, he must remember that after it, it is necessary to read another brief and succinct sacred text. And this is the prayer of Sirin.
Please note that the choice in favor of morning prayers during fasting is not an accident. After all, with their help, you can tune in a positive way and start the day with a positive mood. And this, as we know, is very important.
How to pray:
- Remember that to begin to pray is always necessary with the perusive prayer read.
- After this prayer should immediately follow "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us." For people who frequent the church, this text is very familiar. Because it is a famous trisagion. It is often used by priests who hold services. Therefore, every Orthodox person knows this short prayer well and understands its meaning perfectly.
- The following prayers should be addressed to the Holy Trinity and the Lord. Please note that the last prayer can be read not only in the morning, but also in the evening, and even at any convenient time. It is believed that this is the main prayer that believers can use to appeal to the Almighty.
- Now the Orthodox fast in the Holy Fourtieth and in the Holy Week.
- Lent is a time when a righteous Christian has the opportunity to get closer to the Creator, to realize his destiny and find peace of mind. The importance of it is difficult to overestimate.
- If a person prays every day, he has a strong spirit and does not succumb to any temptations, no matter how attractive they are.