Why Can’t I Just Say My Prayers At Home?

By Fr. Panagiotes Carras
St. Nektarios Cathedral, Toronto, Canada

Every so often some one will ask me: Why do I have to come to Church? Why can’t I just say my prayers at home? This question is not one that is a product of our times but one that has been a temptation since the days of the early Church.

While reading one of St. John Chrysostom’s sermons I ran into this question once more. In a way that is characteristic of St. John’s pastoral concerns, he speaks of Christians coming together to pray as being bound together in love. It is this bond that brings our Saviour to be with us when we come together to pray: For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20).

In the early Church, during the years of the Roman Persecution, Christians would not miss the Divine Liturgy, even though they knew that they were in danger of losing their lives. They knew that staying home and saying their prayers was not enough. They knew that by being at the Divine Liturgy, the Mystery of Coming Together in Prayer would unite them with our Lord in a unique manner. Let us not be lazy or negligent and miss the Grace of the Bond of Love.

Editor’s note: Perhaps the faithful from the early persecuted Church recognized quite clearly that their lives could end at any moment at the whim of an official of the state. In what better way can we keep our soul ready than by receiving the Mysteries regularly. “To them that hath ears, let them listen”.