The Christian Life Begins with Prayer

The beginning of the Christian walk is a commitment to a life of prayer. It is only by grace that we are able to rise above the limitations of our fallen nature and do the will of God. The grace of God comes to us chiefly through the sacraments and prayer. If we neglect the life of prayer, the Christian life is reduced to a merely human attempt to obey moral rules. This is a source of frustration in the Christian life. People try, by mere human effort and will power, to obey the moral commandments. They fail, try harder, and fail again. They end up being frustrated rather than making progress in the faith.

Many people think that to be a Christian means to “try to be good.” This is wrong. To be a Christian is to live in communion with the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. This living relationship begins in baptism and is renewed and experienced through Holy Communion and prayer. Changed or holy behavior is the fruit of this relationship (cf. Galatians 5:22f.).

This is why we begin the week in prayer with the Eucharist on Sunday, the first day of the week. We begin by remembering who we are in Christ, by confessing sins and receiving grace. Then, and only then, are we prepared to “do all such good works as [God] has prepared for us to walk in” (BCP 83, Ephesians 2:10). This is the pattern for life “in Christ.” Behavior follows prayer. As we integrate patterns of prayer into the very fabric of daily life, our behavior is changed as a consequence.

—Bishop Stephen Scarlett, from The Christian Faith in the Anglican Catholic Tradition: An Inquirer’s Guide (2012)

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