Christian Behavior Begins with Prayer

The beginning of discipleship is prayer. By nature we are sinners. As we said in session two, being a sinner means that the best of human effort falls short of divine perfection (page 1, par. 5). 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 through the sacraments and prayer.

If we neglect the life of prayer and sacramental grace, the Christian life is reduced to a merely human attempt to obey moral rules. This is the source of much 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 Ghost. This living relationship begins in our baptism and is renewed and experienced through the Mass 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 Holy 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).

Likewise, we need to begin each day with prayer and to integrate patterns of prayer into the very fabric of daily life. As prayer becomes habitual, we find that our behavior is transformed as a consequence.

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