How We Pray Shapes How We Believe

Rather than trying to summarize, I’m posting it in its entirety: It is sometimes said: “lex orandi, lex credendi,” which roughly translated means something like “the rule of our prayer is the rule of our belief,” or more simply and colloquially: “how we pray shapes how we believe.”… Before there were treatises on the Trinity, before there were learned commentaries on the Bible, before there were disputes about the teaching on grace, or essays on the moral life, there was awe and adoration before the exalted Son of God alive and present in the church’s offering of the Eucharist.

Antony has a great post. Rather than trying to summarize, I’m posting it in its entirety:

It is sometimes said: “lex orandi, lex credendi,” which roughly translated means something like “the rule of our prayer is the rule of our belief,” or more simply and colloquially: “how we pray shapes how we believe.” This is to say that rather than a proposition shaping the reality of our lived faith, it is a practice that shapes what we actually in reality believe, whatever the propositions may say…. Get that? In his book The Spirit of Early Christian Thought, Robert Louis Wilken puts it like this (bold emphasis in the quote below is mine):

“The repeated celebration of liturgy worked powerfully on the imagination of early Christian thinkers. It brought them into intimate relation with the mystery of Christ, not as a historical memory, but as an indisputable and incontrovertible fact of experience. Leo the Great, bishop of Rome in the fifth century, put it this way: “Everything that the Son of God did and taught for the reconciliation of the world, we know not only as an historical account of things now past, but we also experience them in the power of the works that are present.” Before there were treatises on the Trinity, before there were learned commentaries on the Bible, before there were disputes about the teaching on grace, or essays on the moral life, there was awe and adoration before the exalted Son of God alive and present in the church’s offering of the Eucharist. This truth preceded every effort to understand and nourished every attempt to express in words and concepts what Christians believed.”



The reconciliation of the world, the New Creation inaugurated by Jesus, is not simply an historical event in the past! Surely it is part of God’s Story that defines us. But we also experience it in the present in an equally defining way. The liturgy, prayers, songs, readings, Eucharist, disciplines and community implement the reality of God’s New Creation in our midst in fresh ways.

Thanks, Antony, for posting this.

One thought on “How We Pray Shapes How We Believe

  1. Wow. I couldn’t agree more. I know this to be true. I have tried to verbalize this but I don’t think I’ve ever been able to do justice to the experience.

    Fr. Alexander Schmemann writes about the fall of man being a “breaking of the fast.” Man decided to live as if he lived by bread alone. But man is now saved in receiving the Bread of Life. I think this gives real substance to Jesus’ assertion that his flesh is real food and his blood is real drink.

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