Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

prayer

271 Entries

If you do not feel like praying, you have to force yourself. The Holy Fathers say that prayer with force is higher than prayer unforced. You do not want to, but force yourself. The Kingdom of Heaven is taken by force (Matt. 11:12). REF:St. Ambrose of Optina (+1891)



Through the prayer, man is cleansed, brightened, sanctified. REF:Elder Amphilochios of Patmos +1970

There is no other manner of purification and sanctification than noetic prayer. This filled paradise with Holy people. REF:Elder Amphilochios of Patmos +1970

Prayer is grace. God gives it when there exists zeal and humility… Let Christ not be missing from your heart.REF:Elder Amphilochios of Patmos +1970

…The only hope of salvation from the delusions and the heresies, the innovations and the traps of wicked people and of the devil is prayer, repentance and humility… REF:Elder Joseph (trans. from Greek by Elizabeth Theokritoff), "Elder Joseph the Hesychast," (Mount Athos: The Great and Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi, 1999), pp. 195 - 198

Had Moses not received the rod of power from God, he would not have become a god to Pharaoh (Exodus 7:1) and a scourge both to him and to Egypt. Correspondingly the intellect, if it fails to grasp the power of prayer, will not be able to shatter sin and the hostile forces ranged against it." St. Gregory of Sinai.

'And He spake a parable to them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to lose heart.' So do not lose heart and despair because you have not yet received the gift of prayer. You will receive it later. Evagrios the Solitary, Philokalia, Vol. I

... prayer ... actualizes our ascent to and union with the Deity...when our prayer, through its fervent compunction, transcends the passions and conceptual thoughts; for the intellect, while still passion-dominated, cannot be united to God. Thus so long as the intellect when praying remains in a passion-charged state, it will not obtain mercy; but to the extent that it can dispel distractive thoughts it will experience inward grief, and in so far as it experiences such grief it will partake of God's mercy. And if with humility it continues to savour this mercy it will transform entirely the aspect of the soul that it accessible to passion." St. Gregory Palamas (On Prayer and Purity of Heart no. 1, The Philokalia Vol. 4 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 343)

...a single raising of your mind to God, and a single humble genuflexion to His glory and in His honor has infinitely more value than all the treasures of the world... Lorenzo Scupoli (Unseen Warfare: Chapter 20)

...be not afraid, for He Who said: 'Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid;' (Matt. 14:27) is Himself with us, He Whom we seek and Who always protects us. So in calling to God we must neither fear nor sigh. St. Gregory of Sinai (Instructions to Hesychasts no. 7)

...by receiving a new sense of taste and a new form of knowledge in "stillness" and in giving himself over to God totally. Be still and know. Be still: remain in a state of spiritual wakefulness, with your prospects and your senses open, to hear what God's will is at each moment. Abbot Vasilios of Iveron Monastery in Hymn of Entry, p. 92

...he who loves God cultivates pure prayer, driving out every passion that keeps him from it. St. Maximos the Confessor (Second Century on Love no. 7 Lecture 9 no. 2)

...in the visible form of our nature the immortal God described the likeness of His invisible Being, and thus we apprehend eternity. Through prayer we enter into Divine life; and God praying in us is uncreated life permeating us. Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 8; SVS press pg. 66)

...the Christian, approaching God with a prayer to Him, or to His most pure Mother, or to the angels and saints, in order to insure the success of his prayer, ought to try to resemble as far as possible the Lord Himself, or His most-pure Mother, or the angels and saints. In this lies the secret of drawing near to God, and of His speedily hearing our prayers. St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ, Part 1; Holy Trinity Monastery pgs. 19-20)

...the most important miracle to be sought for in prayer is the union of our whole being with God - 'that good part, which shall not be taken away' (Luke 10:42) from us by death. Our attention should be focused on our resurrection in God as the ultimate meaning of our appearance in the world. Love towards Christ, filling the whole man, works a radical change in us ... Christ united in Himself God and man, and through Him we have access to the Father. Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine: Part 2, Chapter 1; SVS Press pg. 109)

...we ought to think of God even more often than we draw our breath; and if the expression is permissible, we ought to do nothing else. St. Gregory Nazianzen (First Theological Oration no. 5)

11) Try to make your intellect deaf and dumb during prayer, you will then be able to pray. Evagrios the Solitary, "On Prayer," in the Philokalia

9) Persevere with patience in your prayer, and repulse the cares and doubts that arise within you. Evagrios the Solitary, "On Prayer," in the Philokalia

A Prayer on Behalf of our Priests
O Lord, let Thy priests be clothed with righteousness; let them always remember the greatness of their calling; let them not be entangled in the snares of the world and the devil; let them be saved from the cares of the world, the delight in riches, and the desire for other things entering into their hearts. St. John of Kronstadt

A man calls on God that he many not be put to confusion. Is it so that the adultery he intends may come off? that someone he hopes to inherit from may die? that a piece of sharp practice may succeed? This is not to call on God, but on one's own evil desires

To call on God is to invite him into your heart: but will you dare to invite so great a Father when you have no dwelling fit for him? Your heart is full of evil desires, and yet you invite him in. St. Seraphim of Sarov



A wandering mind is made stable by reading, vigil and prayer. Flaming lust is extinguished by hunger, labor and solitude. Stirrings of anger are calmed by psalmody, magnanimity and mercifulness. All this has its effect when used at its proper time and in due measure. Everything untimely or without proper measure is short-lived; and short-lived things and more harmful than useful. Abba Evagrius the Monk(Texts on Active Life no. 6)

Abba John said, "I am like a man sitting under a great tree, who sees wild beasts and snakes coming against him in great numbers. When he cannot withstand them any longer, he runs to climb the tree and is saved. It is just the same with me; I sit in my cell and I am aware of evil thoughts coming against me, and when I have no more strength against them, I take refuge in God by prayer and I am saved from the enemy." Sr. Benedicta Ward, "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers," (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1975), pp. 85-89

Abba Macarius was asked, 'How should one pray?' The old man said, 'There is no need at all to make long discourses, it is enough to stretch out one's hands and say, "Lord, as You will, and as You know, have mercy." And if the conflict grows fiercer say, "Lord, help!" He knows very well what we need and He shows us His mercy.' Sayings of the Dessert Fathers by Benedicta Ward

Abba Nilus said, "Prayer is the seed of gentleness and the absence of anger." Abba Nilus, in "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers," (in Sr. Benedicta Ward, Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1975), pp. 153-155

Abba Zeno said, 'If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he prays for anything else, even his own soul, when he stands and stretches out his hands towards God, he must pray with all his heart for his enemies. Through this action God will hear everything that he asks.' The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Trans. by Benedicta Ward

All prayers assume the great poverty and misery of our fallen nature; they also assume that the Lord is the ever flowing source of every perfection, every blessing; that He is our inexhaustible treasury. Truly, we must have poverty of spirit during prayer and at all times. "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (Matt. 5:3). St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

All the faithful, men and women, on rising from sleep in the morning should wash their hands and pray to God before they undertake any sort of work; then they may proceed to their work .... If you are at home, pray and give praises to God at the third hour. If you are somewhere else at that time pray to God in your heart , for that is the hour at which Christ was seen to be fastened to the tree .... Similarly pray at the sixth hour, too. For when Christ had been fastened to the wood of the Cross, the day was cut off and there came a great darkness .... One should also offer extended prayer and blessing at the ninth hour, in imitation of the way the souls of the just bless God Who does not lie but Who remembered His saints and sent His Word to enlighten them. For at that hour Christ was pierced in the side, poured forth water and blood, and made light shine on the remainder of the day as He brought it to its evening. Thus, at the moment when He was about to fall asleep He created the start of a new day and thus supplied an image of His Resurrection. St. Hippolytus of Rome 170-235

All who ask and do not obtain their requests from God, are denied for one of the following reasons; because they ask at the wrong time, or because they ask unworthily and vaingloriously, or because if they received they would become conceited, or finally because they would become negligent after obtaining their request. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step26: On Discernment of Thoughts, Passions and Virtue

Although prayer is a habitual action for us, it needs preparation. For anyone who knows how to read and write, what is more usual than reading and writing? Yet if we sit down to read and write we do not do so suddenly, we first get ourselves into the mood for what we are going to do. This kind of preparation is all the more necessary before we start to pray, particularly if our occupation immediately beforehand was very different from prayer.

So, morning or evening, immediately before you begin to repeat your prayers, stand awhile, sit for awhile, or walk a little and try to steady your mind and turn it away from all worldly activities and objects. After this, think who He is to whom you turn in prayer, then recollect who you are; who it is who is about to start this invocation to Him in prayer. Do this in such a way as to awake in your heart a feeling of humility and reverent awe that your are standing in the presence of God. It is the beginning of prayer, and a good beginning is half the complete task. St. Theophan the Recluse



An anchorite saw a demon urging another demon to go and awaken a sleeping monk. And he heard the other one say, "I cannot do this, for one time when I awakened him he got up and burned me by singing psalms and praying. The Desert Fathers

And what is a merciful heart? It is the heart's burning for the sake of the entire creation, for men, for birds, for animals, for demons and for every created thing; and by the recollection and sight of them the eyes of a merciful man pour forth abundant tears. From the strong and vehement mercy which grips his heart and from his great compassion, his heart is humbled and he cannot bear to hear or see any injury or slight sorrow in creation.

For this reason he continually offers up tearful prayer, even for irrational beasts, for the enemies of the truth and for those who harm him, that they be protected and receive mercy. And in like manner he even prays for the family of reptiles because of the great compassion that burns in his heart without measure in the likeness of God. St. Isaac The Syrian, Homily 81, from "The River of Fire", Dr. Alexandre Kalomiros



As bread is food for the body and virtue is food for the soul, so spiritual prayer is food for the mind. "153 Texts on Prayer", St Nilus of Mt Sinai, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," translated from the Russian text, "Dobrotolubiye," by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, eighth edition, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 127 - 135.

As our body becomes dead and full of stench when the soul leaves it, so a soul in which prayer is not active is dead and stenches. That to be deprived of prayer should be counted worse than death is clearly shown us by Prophet Daniel, who was ready to die rather than be deprived of prayer at any hour. One should remember God more often than one breathes. "Reflections on the Eight Thoughts", Abba Evagrius, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," translated from the Russian text, "Dobrotolubiye," by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, eighth edition, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 113 - 114

As the earth, long awaiting moistening and at last receiving it in abundance, suddenly is covered by tender and bright greenery, so also the heart, exhausted by dryness, and afterwards revived by tears, emits from itself a multitude of spiritual thoughts and feelings, adorned by the common flower of humility. The labor of weeping, being inseparable from the labor of prayer, requires the same conditions for success as prayer requires. Prayer needs patient, constant dwelling in itself; weeping requires the same. Prayer needs wearying of the body, and brings about exhaustion of the body; this exhaustion produces weeping, which must be born in the troubling and wearying of the body. Bishop (St.) Ignaty Brianchaninov, On Tears. Translation in OrthodoxLife, #5, 1969

Ask God to forgive you Always entreat the Creator to forgive you. He knows all the hidden deeds and thoughts which people do not confess, perhaps from shame, from lack of strength to tell the truth. Modern Orthodox Saints Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene of Lesvos., by Constantine Cavarnos., INSTITUTE FOR BYZANTINE AND MODERN STUDIES., Belmont, Massachusetts., 1990., pp. 145-155

Ask with tears, seek with obedience, knock with patience. For thus he who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and Body in Prayer

BROTHER: How ought we to pray before God?

OLD MAN: For the return of sinners, and the finding of the lost, and the bringing near of those who are afar off, and friendliness towards those who wrong us, and love towards those who persecute us, and a sorrowful care for those who provoke to wrath; if a man does these things, truly there is repentance in his mind, and sinners will often live, and their souls be redeemed in life. For the prayer which our Lord delivered unto us for the need of the body is a word which covereth the whole community, and was not uttered solely for those who are strangers to the world, and who hold in contempt the pleasures of the body. For he in whose dwelling the kingdom of God and the righteousness thereof are found lacks nothing, even when he asks not. E. A. Wallis Budge, "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers," Seattle, St. Nectarios Press, 1984, pp. 266-267



BROTHER: What are fasting and prayer?

OLD MAN: Fasting is the subjugation of the body, prayer is converse with God, vigil is a war against Satan, abstinence is being weaned from meats, humility is the state of the first man, kneeling is the inclining of the body before the Judge, tears are the remembrance of sins, nakedness is our captivity which is caused by the transgression of the command, and service is constant supplication to and praise of God.

BROTHER: Are these able to redeem the soul?

OLD MAN: When internal things agree with external, and manifest humility appears in the hidden works which are from within, verily, a man shall be redeemed from the weight of the body. E. A. Wallis Budge, "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers," Seattle, St. Nectarios Press, 1984, pp. 263-264



BROTHER: What is pure prayer?

OLD MAN: Pure prayer is little in speech and great in deeds, for if it were not so work would be more excellent than supplication For if it be not so why do we ask and yet not receive, seeing that the mercy of God abounds? The method of penitents is, however, something different, as is also the labor of the humble, for the penitents are hirelings, and the humble are sons. E. A. Wallis Budge, "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers," Seattle, St. Nectarios Press, 1984, pp. 266-267



BROTHER: What is the kind of prayer which is not acceptable before God?

OLD MAN: The destruction of enemies, and asking for evil things to come upon those who do harm to us, and the health of the body, and a multitude of possessions, and abundance of offspring -- prayers for these things are not acceptable before God. But if God bears with us while we are sinners and commit offences against Him, how much more is it right that we should bear with each other? It is not right for us to ask for the things which belong to the Body, for the wisdom of God provides all things. E. A. Wallis Budge, "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers," Seattle, St. Nectarios Press, 1984, pp. 266-267



Before all else, let us list sincere thanksgiving first on the scroll of our prayer. On the second line, we should put confession and heartfelt contrition of soul. Then let us present our petition to the King of all. This is the best way of prayer, as it was shown to one of the brethren by an angel of the Lord. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and Body in Prayer

Before the war begins, seek after your ally; before you fall ill, seek out your physician; and before grievous things come upon you, pray, and in the time of your tribulations you will find Him, and He will listen to you." St. Isaac the Syrian.

Blessed is he who prays with fervor, for the devil never approaches him. St. Ephraim the Syrian

Blessed is he who prays with fervor, for the devil never approaches him." St. Ephrem of Syria (ca. 306-373)

Blessed is he who, with a hunger that is never satisfied, day and night throughout this present life makes prayer and the psalms his food and drink, and strengthens himself by reading of God's glory in Scripture. Such communion will lead the soul to ever-increasing joy in the age to come. St. John of Karpathos "The Philokalia: the Complete Text" (volume I), by St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth, trans. By G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and (Bishop) Kallistos Ware, (London: Faber and Faber, 1979), pp. 298 - 309

But although our Lord distinguished the four kinds of prayers* to be offered, individually and at different times, as we understand, nonetheless He shows as well by His own example that they can also be included together in a perfect prayer. This He does in that prayer which we read that He poured out at great length toward the end of the Gospel according to John (Ch.17). St. John Cassian, The Conferences

But since we say that God is plenteous in mercy, why is it that when amidst temptations we unceasingly knock and pray, we are not heard and He disregards our prayer? This we are clearly taught by the Prophet when he says, `The Lord's hand is not little, that it cannot save; nor is He heavy of hearing, that He cannot hear; but our sins have separated us from Him, and our iniquities have turned His face away, that He doth not hearken.' Remember God at all times, and He will remember your whenever you fall into evils. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian

Do not admit any sensory phantasies during prayer, lest you become subject to derangement. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and Body in Prayer

Do not be always wanting everything to turn out as you think it should, but rather as God pleases, then you will be undisturbed and thankful in your prayer Abba Nilus

Do not be always wanting everything to turn out as you think it should, but rather as God pleases; then you will be undisturbed and thankful in your prayer. Abba Nilus

Do not be always wanting everything to turn out as you think it should, but rather as God pleases; then you will be undisturbed and thankful in your prayer." Abba Nilus, in "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers," (in Sr. Benedicta Ward, Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1975), pp. 153-155

Do not be foolish in the requests you make to God, otherwise you will insult God through your ignorance. Act wisely in prayer, so that you may become worthy of glorious things. Ask for things that are honorable from Him Who will not hold back, so that you may receive honor from Him as a result of the wise choice your free will had made. Solomon asked for wisdom - and along with it he also received the earthly kingdom, for he knew how to ask wisely of the heavenly King, that is, for things that are important. St. Isaac of Nineveh (Syria) I, The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life

Do not be over-sophisticated in the words you use when praying, because the simple and unadorned lisping of children has often won the heart of their Heavenly Father. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and Body in Prayer

Do not be puffed up if you have prayed for another and been heard, for it is his faith that has been strong and effective. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and Body in Prayer

Do not hesitate to go late at night to those places where you usually feel afraid. But if you yield only a little to such weakness, then this childish and ridiculous infirmity will grow old with you. As you go on your way, arm yourself with prayer. When you reach the place, stretch out your hands. Flog your enemies with the name of Jesus, for there is no stronger weapon in heaven or earth. When you get rid of the disease of fear, praise Him who has delivered you. If you continue to be thankful, He will protect you for ever. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), STEP 21: On Unmanly and Puerile Cowardice

Do not neglect prayer. Pray fervently.

Say these prayers: "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us." "Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit." "We venerate Thine immaculate icon..." "The Cross, the guardian of the whole oecumene..." The Creed and the Lord's Prayer... "O All-Holy Lady Theotokos (the light of my darkened soul, my hope and protection)..." And whatever other prayers you know. Modern Orthodox Saints Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene of Lesvos., by Constantine Cavarnos., INSTITUTE FOR BYZANTINE AND MODERN STUDIES., Belmont, Massachusetts., 1990., pp. 145-155



Do not rush one prayer after another but say them with orderly deliberation, as one addressing a great person for a favor. Do not just pay attention to the words, but rather let the mind be in the heart, standing before the Lord in full awareness of His presence, in full consciousness of His greatness and grace and justice. Theophan the Recluse

Do not say, after spending a long time in prayer, that nothing has been gained; for you have already gained something. And what higher good is there than to cling to the Lord and persevere in unceasing union with Him? St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and Body in Prayer

Do not spare yourself from heartfelt prayer even when you have spent the whole day in hard work. Do not indulge in laziness when you pray; tell God everything that is in your heart. If you allow yourself time to pray with diligence, you will not fall asleep before you have wept over your sins. Believe that, if for the sake of bodily rest you pray hurriedly, you will lose the tranquility of both body and soul. By what labor, sweat and tears is our closeness to God achieved! St. John of Kronstadt

Do not try to be verbose when you pray, lest your mind be distracted in searching for words. One word of the publican propitiated God, and one cry of faith saved the thief. Loquacity in prayer often distracts the mind and leads to phantasy, whereas brevity makes for concentration. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and Body in Prayer

Do you not see, brethren, that we toil for nothing when we pray, if we have enmity against someone? And again the Lord says, ‘If you offer your gift at the altar, and there you remember that someone has something against you, leave your gift before the altar, and go first and be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift’. Therefore, it is clear that if you do not do this first, all that you offer will be unacceptable, but if you do the Master’s bidding, then implore the Lord with boldness, saying, ‘Forgive me my debts, Master, as I have forgiven my brother, so fulfilling your commandment. I, weak though I am, have forgiven’. For the Lover of mankind will answer, ‘If you have forgiven, I too will forgive. If you have pardoned, I too will pardon your sins. For I have authority on earth to forgive sins. Forgive and you will be forgiven’. St Ephrem the Syrian, 'Three Short Discourses', from 'http://web.ukonline.co.uk/ephrem/3disc.htm'

During prayer and supplication, stand with trembling like a convict standing before a judge, so that, both by your outward appearance as well as by your inner disposition, you may extinguish the wrath of the just Judge; for He will not despise a widow soul standing before Him burdened with sorrow and wearying the Unwearying One. St. John Climacus, “The Ladder of Divine Ascent,” (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step 7: On Joy-Making Mourning

Everything you do in revenge against a brother who has harmed you will come back to your mind at the time of prayer. Abba Nilus

Everything you do in revenge against a brother who has harmed you will come back to your mind at the time of prayer." Abba Nilus, in "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers," (in Sr. Benedicta Ward, Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1975), pp. 153-155

Faith gives wings to prayer, and without it we cannot fly up to Heaven. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and Body in Prayer

Fasting is the champion of every virtue, the beginning of the struggle, the crown of the abstinent, the beauty of virginity and sanctity, the resplendence of chastity, the commencement of the path of Christianity, the mother of prayer, the well-spring of sobriety and prudence, the teacher of stillness, and the precursor of all good works. Just as the enjoyment of light is coupled with healthy eyes, so desire for prayer accompanies fasting that is practiced with discernment. The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian

Fire makes iron impossible to touch, and likewise frequent prayer renders the intellect more forceful in its warfare against the enemy. That is why the demons strive with all their strength to make us slothful in attentiveness to prayer, for they know that prayer is the intellect's invincible weapon against them. St. John of Karpathos "The Philokalia: the Complete Text" (volume I), by St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth, trans. By G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and (Bishop) Kallistos Ware, (London: Faber and Faber, 1979), pp. 298 - 309

For God is silence, and in silence is He sung by means of that psalmody which is worthy of Him. I am not speaking of the silence of the tongue, for if someone merely keeps his tongue silent, without knowing how to sing in mind and spirit, then he is simply unoccupied and becomes filled with evil thoughts: ... There is a silence of the tongue, there is a silence of the whole body, there is a silence of the soul, there is the silence of the mind, and there is the silence of the spirit. John the Solitary in On Prayer

For beginners prayer is like a joyous flame bursting out of the heart; and for the perfect it is like a sweet-scented light acting within it. Or again, prayer is the Gospel of the Apostles, an action of faith, or rather it is direct faith, it is the foundation of hope, love brought to life, angel-like movement, power of the bodiless spirits, their work and their joy, the Gospel of God, informing of the heart, hope of salvation, sign of purification, symbol of sanctity, knowledge of God, manifesting of baptism, or purification in the bath of eternal life, betrothal with the Holy Spirit, the rejoicing of Jesus, gladness of the soul, mercy of God, sign of reconciliation, the seal of Christ, a ray of mental sun, the dawn of hearts, the affirmation of Christianity, token of reconciliation with God, grace of God, wisdom of God, or rather the beginning of self-wisdom, a manifestation of God, the doing of monks, the way of life of the silent, the cause of silence, the sign of angelic life. But why say so much? Prayer is God, making active all in all, for single is the action of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, all-doing through Jesus Christ. St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 113)

For what is prayer? Prayer is the raising of the mind and heart to God--for praise and thanksgiving and beseeching Him for the good things necessary for soul and body. The essence of prayer, then is the mental ascent to God from the heart. The mind stands in the heart consciously before the face of God and, filled with proper and necessary reverence, it begins to pour out its heart before Him. This is prayer of the heart! Bishop Theophan the Recluse - Prayer of the Heart: the duty of those living in the world http://www.roca.org/OA/87/87f.htm

From the fact of our praying it so happens that we are with God; and whoever is with God is well away from the enemy: prayer thus preserves chastity, it beats down anger, it drowns pride, it gets rid of resentment, it destroys envy, it causes evil to vanish, it reforms wicked ways. Prayer, then, is the seal of virginity, the firm basis of marriage, the armor of those who travel, the protection of those who are asleep, the source of confidence for those who are awake. In brief, prayer is talking to, and encountering, God. Anonymous, from The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life

Go and have pity on all, for through pity, one finds freedom of speech before God. Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky

Go, sell all that belongs to you and give it to the poor and taking up the cross, deny yourself; in this way you will be able to pray without distraction. Abba Nilus

Go, sell all that belongs to you and give it to the poor and taking up the cross, deny yourself; in this way you will be able to pray without distraction." Abba Nilus, in "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers," (in Sr. Benedicta Ward, Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1975), pp. 153-155

God has granted us existence - the greatest gift of His goodness, and after we had fallen away from Him, from life into death, He gave us for our regeneration, to bring us back to life, His Son. How small in proportion are all the other gifts which we ask of Him in prayer, and how easy it is for Him to give them to us at the first word of true faith, if they are really necessary for us! Therefore it is perfectly unpardonable in us if we still doubt that we shall obtain what we ask of God in prayer. The Lord said plainly: 'Ask, and it shall be given you.' (Matt. 7:7)." St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ, Part 1; Holy Trinity Monastery pg. 50)

He who prays in spirit and in truth does not borrow from creatures thoughts to glorify the Creator, but draws from the Creator Himself contemplations for His praise. "153 Texts on Prayer", St Nilus of Mt Sinai, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," translated from the Russian text, "Dobrotolubiye," by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, eighth edition, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 127 - 135.

He who prays often will escape temptation; but thoughts will trouble the heart of the careless. "Instructions to Cenobites and Others", Abba Evagrius, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," translated from the Russian text, "Dobrotolubiye," by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, eighth edition, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 115 - 116.

Hence if a man whose conscience accuses him of evil calls God his Father, he asserts precisely that God is the cause and origin of his own wickedness. But `there is no fellowship of light with darkness,' says the Apostle; but light associates with light and justice with what is just, beauty with what is beautiful and incorruption with the incorruptible. `A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit.' If then some who is `dull of heart' and `seeks after lying,' as the Scripture says, yet dares to use the words of the prayer, he should know that he does not call the Heavenly One his Father, but the infernal one, who is himself a liar and father of every lie, who is sin and the father of sin. St. Gregory of Nyssa, On The Lord's Prayer

Hence, in whatever state a person is, he sometimes finds himself making pure and intense prayers. For even from that first and lowest sort, which has to do with recalling the future judgment, the one who is still subject to the punishment of terror and the fear of judgment is occasionally so struck with compunction that he is filled with no less joy of spirit from the richness of his supplication than the one who, examining the kindnesses of God and going over them in the purity of his heart, dissolves into unspeakable gladness and delight. For, according to the words of the Lord, the one who realizes that more has been forgiven him begins to love more. St. John Cassian, The Conferences

How many times have I prayed for what seemed a good thing for me and not leaving it to God to do as He knows best But having obtained what I begged for, I found myself in distress because I had not asked for it to be, rather, according to God's will. St. Nilus of Sinai

I advise you to convince yourself and force yourself to prayer and every good action, even if you do not feel the desire for it. God seeing such labor and application will give you goodwill and zeal. Such good will and a certain attraction to prayer is often a result of habit. Get into this habit and it will draw you to prayer and good actions. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

I am like a man sitting under a great tree, who sees wild beasts and snakes coming against him in great numbers. When he cannot withstand them any longer, he runs to climb the tree and is saved. It is just the same with me; I sit in my cell and I am aware of evil thoughts coming against me, and when I have no more strength against them, I take refuge in God by prayer and I am saved from the enemy. Abba John the Dwarf.

If Moses had not received from God the rod of power, he would not have become god to pharaoh and would not have punished both him and Egypt. In the same way the mind, if it does not wield in its hand the power of prayer, will be unable to conquer sin and the powers of the enemy. St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 114)

If Moses had not received from God the rod of power, he would not have become god to pharaoh and would not have punished both him and Egypt. In the same way the mind, if it does not wield in its hand the power of prayer, will be unable to conquer sin and the powers of the enemy. St. Gregory of Sinai in Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart

If a person pushes himself to attain prayer alone, when he has none, in order to attain its grace, without striving earnestly for meekness and humility and charity and all the other commandments of the Lord, neither taking pains nor struggling and battling to succeed in these as far as his choice and free will go, he may at times be given a grace of prayer with some degree of repose and pleasure from the Spirit according as he asks. But he has the same traits he had before. He has no meekness, because he did not seek it with effort and he did not prepare himself beforehand to become meek. He has no humility, since he did not ask for it and did not push himself to have it. He has no charity toward all men, because he was not concerned with it and did not strive for it in his asking for the gift of prayer. And in doing his work, he has no faith or trust in God, since he did not know that he was without it. And he did not take the pains to seek from the Lord for himself to have a firm faith and an authentic trust. St. Macarius the Great, Fifty Spiritual Homilies.

If the practice of prayer is to proceed successfully, it is always essential at the outset to lay everything else aside, so that the heart is completely free of distraction. Nothing should obtrude on the mind: neither face, nor activity, nor object. At such a time all is to be driven out." Bishop Theophan the Recluse

If the practice of prayer is to proceed successfully, it is always essential at the outset to lay everything else aside, so that the heart is completely free of distraction. Nothing should obtrude on the mind:neither face, nor activity, nor object. At such a time all is to be driven out." Bishop Theophan the Recluse

If we want to ask a favor of any person of power, we presume not to approach but with humility and respect. How much more ought we to address ourselves to the Lord and God of all things with a humble and entire devotion? We are not to imagine that our prayers shall be heard because we use many words, but because the heart is pure and the spirit penitent. Therefore prayer must be short and pure, unless it be prolonged by a feeling of divine inspiration. Prayer in common ought always to be short, and when the sign is given by the abbot, all should rise together. St. Benedict, Rule, 20 St. Benedict of Nursia, commemorated 14 March

If while still in your body you wish to serve God like the incorporeal beings, strive to have in your heart a secret unceasing prayer. For in this way your soul will come near to resembling the angels even before death. "Reflections on the Eight Thoughts", Abba Evagrius, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," translated from the Russian text, "Dobrotolubiye," by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, eighth edition, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 113 - 114

If you feel sweetness or compunction at some word of your prayer, dwell on it; for then our guardian angel is praying with us. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and Body in Prayer

If you pray truly, you will receive assurances of many things, and angels will come to you as they came to Daniel, and will enlighten you with understanding of causes, the wherefore of all things. "153 Texts on Prayer", St Nilus of Mt Sinai, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," translated from the Russian text, "Dobrotolubiye," by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, eighth edition, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 127 - 135.

If you strive after prayer, prepare yourself for diabolical suggestions and bear patiently their onslaughts; for they will attack you like wild beasts.... Try as much as possible to be humble and courageous. He who endures will be granted great joy. St. Nilus of Sinai

If you want to pray properly, do not let yourself be upset or you will run in vain. Abba Nilus

If you want to pray properly, do not let yourself be upset or you will run in vain." Abba Nilus, in "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers," (in Sr. Benedicta Ward, Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1975), pp. 153-155

If, in the case of one human being who has done wrong to another, God in His grace has commanded that we should be forgiving to the offender seventy times seven, how much more will God forgive the person who offers up supplication for his sins? John the Solitary in The Syriac Fathers on Prayer

If, then, you wish to behold and commune with Him who is beyond sense-perception and beyond concept, you must free yourself from every impassioned thought. Evagrios the Solitary, "On Prayer"

If, then, you wish to behold and commune with Him who is beyond sense-perception and beyond concept, you must free yourself from every impassioned thought. Evagrios the Solitary, "On Prayer," in the Philokalia

In all your works, either at home or at the place of your service, do not forget that all your strength, your light and your success are in Christ and His Cross; therefore, do not fail to call upon the Lord before beginning any work, saying: Jesus, help me! Jesus, enlighten me! Thus your heart will be supported and warmed by lively faith and hope in Christ, for His is the power and glory unto ages of ages. St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ: Part 1, Holy Trinity Monastery pg. 74)

In diligent exercise of mystical contemplation, leave behind the senses and the operations of the intellect, and all things sensible and intellectual, and all things in the world of being and non-being, that you may arise by unknowing towards the union, as far as is attainable, with Him who transcends all being and all knowledge. For by the unceasing and absolute renunciation of yourself and of all things you may be borne on high, through pure and entire self-abnegation, into the superessential Radiance of the Divine Darkness. Dionysius the Areopagite in Mystical Theology, Chapter 1

In everything they the Apostles did, they thought of God and lived in constant devotion to Him. This spiritual state was their unceasing prayer. St. Basil the Great

In order to pray a man must struggle to has last breath. If we do not find prayer difficult, perhaps it is because we have not really started to pray. Abba Agathon

In response to our abandoning our prayer rule, the Lord abandons our soul. Venerable St. Nilus of Sinai

Intelligent silence is the mother of prayer, a recall from captivity, preservation of fire, an overseer of thoughts, a watch against enemies, a prison of mourning, a friend of tears, effective remembrance of death, a depicter of punishment, a delver into judgment, a minister of sorrow, an enemy of freedom of speech, a companion of stillness, an opponent of desire to teach, increase of knowledge, a creator of divine vision, unseen progress, secret ascent. St. John Climacus, “The Ladder of Divine Ascent,” (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step 11: On Talkativeness and Silence

It happened that when Abba Arsenius was sitting in his cell one day that he was harassed by demons. His servants, on their return, stood outside his cell and heard him praying to God in these words, "O God, do not leave me. I have done nothing good in your sight, but according to your goodness, let me now make a beginning of good." The Desert Fathers

It is not proper for anyone to engage in any accessory work, or rather distraction, during the time of prayer. For the angel who attended Antony the Great taught him this clearly. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston; Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step19: On Sleep, Prayer, and Psalmody With the Brotherhood

It is possible for all to pray with a congregation; for many it is more suitable to pray with a single kindred spirit; solitary prayer is for the very few. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston; Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step19: On Sleep, Prayer, and Psalmody With the Brotherhood

It took Noah a hundred years to build his ark; log upon log he dragged to the construction. Do as he did; drag log upon log to your construction, patiently, in silence, day after day, and do not inquire about your surroundings. Remember that Noah was the only on in the whole world who 'walked with God' (Gen. 6:9), that is, in prayer. Imagine the crowding, the darkness, the stench, that he had to live in until he could step out into the pure air and build an altar to the Lord. The air and the altar you will find within you, explains St. John Chrysostom, but only after you have willingly gone through the same narrow gate as Noah. The Way of the Ascetics, by Tito Colliander

It was said that a person who has not the Holy Spirit within him cannot pray true prayer. This is perfectly true. We need to make considerable use of toil and suffering in order to be able to pray holy prayer. We cannot suddenly or quickly attain to such a state as to be able to raise our thoughts and hearts to God. Not only with us ordinary people, but even with many who have consecrated their whole life to prayer, it happens that you go to turn your thoughts to God and you find them distracted in different directions and taken up with various matters; you want to have God in your thoughts, and something quite different comes to you, and sometimes it is even something terrible. St. Innocent of Alaska, Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven

Just as a furnace tests gold, so the practice of prayer tests the monk’s zeal and love for God. A praiseworthy work; he who makes it his own draws near to God and routs demons. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston; Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step19: On Sleep, Prayer, and Psalmody With the Brotherhood

Just as an earthly king is disgusted by a man who turns his face away and talks to his master's enemies while in his presence, so will the Lord be disgusted by a man who admits unclean thoughts during his set time of prayer. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and Body in Prayer

Just as the most bitter medicine drives out poisonous things, so prayer joined to fasting drives evil thoughts away. Amma Syncletica

Let no one think, my brother-Christians, that it is the duty only of priests and monks to pray without ceasing, and not of laymen. No, no; it is the duty of all of us Christians to remain always in prayer.

For look what the most holy Patriarch of Constantinople, Philotheus, writes in his life of St. Gregory of Thessalonica. This saint had a beloved friend by the name of Job, a very simple but most virtuous man. Once, while conversing with him, His Eminence said of prayer that every Christian in general should strive to pray always, and to pray without ceasing, as Apostle Paul commands all Christians, "Pray without ceasing" (I Thessalonians 5:17), and as the prophet David says of himself, although he was a king and had to concern himself with his whole kingdom: "I foresaw the Lord always before my face" (Psalms 15:8), that is, in my prayer I always mentally see the Lord before me. Gregory the Theologian also teaches all Christians to say God’s name in prayer more often than to breathe.

So, my Christian brethren, I too implore you, together also with St. Chrysostom, for the sake of saving your souls, do not neglect the practice of this prayer. Imitate those I have mentioned and follow in their footsteps as far as you can. St Gregory Palamas, from "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," translated from the Russian text, "Dobrotolubiye," by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, eighth edition, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 412 - 415.



Let not one think, my fellow Christian, that only priests and monks need to pray with out ceasing and not laymen No, no; every Christian without exception ought to dwell always in prayer. St. Gregory Palamas

Let your prayer be completely simple. For both the publican and the prodigal son were reconciled to God by a single phrase. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and Body in Prayer

Make it your custom not to begin any work without prayer. Schema-Archimandrite Zosima

Make sure that you do not limit your prayer merely to a particular part of the day. Turn to prayer at anytime. St. John Chrysostom

Misfortune in the shape of reduced circumstances, illness or the death of a loved one often drives people to prayer. But if the situation alters for the better, not only does their impulse to pray abate - prayer itself may seem pointless. But there is a different kind of prayer, prayer of the spirit, fastened on eternity, and here no external well-being can heal the sufferings of the soul who sees herself falling short of the sought-for eternal. Then prayer becomes the normal state for the soul, and the grace of the Holy Spirit may visit her, suddenly, inscrutably, bringing a foretaste of eternity. For this visitation integrity and faithfulness are the essential prerequisites. Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 6; SVS Press pg.47 )

Much labors and time is needed in prayer, in order painfully to achieve a state of mind free from all disturbance - that new heaven of the heart in which Christ dwells, as the Apostles says, `Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ dwells in you?' (2Cor. 13:5). John of Karpathos in The Art of Prayer

Not to sin is truly blessed; but those who sin should not despair, but grieve over the sins they have committed, so that, through grief they may again attain blessedness. It is good, then, to pray always and not to lose heart, as the Lord says, And again the Apostle says, ‘Pray without ceasing’, that is by night and by day and at every hour, and not only when coming into the church, and not bothering at other times. But whether you are working, lying down to sleep, travelling, eating, drinking, sitting at table, do not interrupt your prayer, for you do not know when he who demands your soul is coming. Don’t wait for Sunday or a feast day, or a different place, but, as the Prophet David says, ‘in every place of his dominion’. St Ephrem the Syrian, 'Three Short Discourses', from 'http://web.ukonline.co.uk/ephrem/3disc.htm'

Now let us see how we stand before God our King, when we stand at our prayers in the evening, or during the day and night. For some at their evening all-night vigil lift up their hands in prayer, being immaterial and stripped of all care. Others stand at that time chanting psalms. Others immerse themselves in the thought of death, hoping thus to obtain contrition. And of all these, the first and last persevere in all-night vigil for the love of God; the second do what befits a monk; while the third go the lowest way. Yet God accepts and values the offerings of each according to their intention and power. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), STEP 20: On Bodily Vigil, and How to Use It to Attain Spiritual Vigil, and How to Practice It

Of all approaches to God prayer is the best and in the last analysis the only means. In the act of prayer the human mind finds its noblest expression. The mental state of the scientist engaged in research, of the artist creating a work of art, of the thinker wrapped up in philosophy - even of professional theologians propounding their doctrines - cannot be compared to that of the man of prayer brought face to Face with the living God. Each and every kind of mental activity presents less of a strain than prayer. We may be capable of working for ten or twelve hours on end but a few moments of prayer and we are exhausted." Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 6; SVS Press pgs 55-56)

Of all ascetic practices the striving for prayer is the most arduous. Our spirit will be in constant flux. At times prayer flows like a strong current; at other times our heart will feel withered and dry. But the spells when we lose fervor should get briefer." Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 11; SVS Press pg. 82)

Oh, what great happiness and bliss, what exaltation it is to address oneself to the Eternal Father. Always, without fail, value this joy which has been accorded to you by God's infinite grace and do not forget it during your prayers; God, the angels and God's holy men listen to you. Elder Joseph the Hesychast

Oil and salt are seasonings for food; and tears and chastity give wings to prayer. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and Body in Prayer

Our prayer reflects our attitude towards God. He who is careless of salvation has a different attitude toward God from him who has abandoned sin and is zealous for virtue but has not yet entered within himself and works for the Lord only outwardly. Finally, he who has entered within and carries the Lord within himself, standing before Him, has yet another attitude. The first man is negligent in prayer, just as he is negligent in life, and he prays in church and at home merely according to the established custom, without attention or feeling. The second man reads many prayers and goes often to church, trying at the same time to keep his attention from wandering and to experience feelings in accordance with the prayers which are read, al though he is seldom successful. The third man, wholly concentrated within, stands with his mind before God, and prays to Him in his heart without distraction, without long verbal prayers, even when standing for a long time at prayer in his home or in church.... Every prayer must come from the heart and any other prayer is no prayer at all. Prayer-book prayers, your own prayers and very short prayers, all must issue forth from the heart to God, seen before you. Bp. Theophan the Recluse

Perseverance in prayer cleanses the intellect, illumines it, and fills it with the light of truth. The virtues, led by compassion, give the intellect peace and light. The cleansing of the intellect is not a dialectical, discursive and theoretical activity, but an act of grace through experience and is ethical in every respect. The intellect is purified by fasting, vigils, silence, prayer, and other ascetic practices. Quotes from St. Isaac the Syrian in The Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ by Fr. (St.) Justin Popovich

Persevere with patience in your prayer, and repulse the cares and doubts that arise within you. Try to make your intellect deaf and dumb during prayer, you will then be able to pray. Evagrios the Solitary, "On Prayer"

Pray Simply. Do not expect to find in your heart any remarkable gift of prayer Consider yourself unworthy of it-then you will find peace. Use the empty, cold dryness of your prayer as food for your humility. Repeat constantly: "I am not worthy, Lord, I am not worthy!" But say it calmly, without agitation. This humble prayer will be acceptable to God. Elder Macarius of Optina

Pray in peace and serenity, sing intelligently and in a good state – and you will be like a young eagle soaring high in the sky. "153 Texts on Prayer", St Nilus of Mt Sinai, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," translated from the Russian text, "Dobrotolubiye," by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, eighth edition, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 127 - 135.

Pray simply. Do not expect to find in your heart any remarkable gift of prayer. Consider yourself unworthy of it. Then you will find peace. Use the empty cold dryness of your prayer as food for your humility. Repeat constantly: I am not worthy; Lord, I am not worthy! But say it calmly, without agitation. St. Macarius of Optina

Prayer affords an experience of spiritual liberty of which most people are ignorant. The first sign of emancipation is a disinclination to impose one's will on others. The second - an inner release from the hold of others on oneself. Archimandrite Sophrony.

Prayer affords an experience of spiritual liberty of which most people are ignorant. The first sign of emancipation is a disinclination to impose one's will on others. The second - an inner release from the hold of others on oneself. St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ, Part 1; Holy Trinity Monastery, pgs. 39-40)

Prayer can accomplish all things. It is possible for any of us lacking in natural talent to obtain through prayer supranatural gifts. Where we encounter a deficiency of rational knowledge we should do well to remember that prayer, independently of man's intellectual capacity, can bring a higher form of cognition. There is the province of reflex consciousness, of demonstrative argument; and there is the province where prayer is the passageway to direct contemplation of divine truth. Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 6; SVS Press pg. 56)

Prayer is a ladder leading up to God; for there is nothing more powerful than prayer. There is no sin which cannot be forgiven by means of prayer, and there is no sentence of punishment which it cannot undo. There is no revelation which does not have prayer as its cause, and there are no types or symbols which prayer cannot interpret. Anonymous, from The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life

Prayer is a ladder leading up to God; for there is nothing more powerful than prayer. There is no sin which cannot be forgiven by means of prayers, and there is no sentence of punishment which it cannot undo. There is no revelation which does not have prayer as its cause, and there are no types of symbols which prayer cannot interpret. Anonymous, from The Syrian Fathers on Prayer

Prayer is a remedy against grief and depression. Abba Nilus

Prayer is a remedy against grief and depression." Abba Nilus, in "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers," (in Sr. Benedicta Ward, Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1975), pp. 153-155

Prayer is a supplication, a care, and a desire of something: of deliverance from trials here, or in the age to come, or a desire of the inheritance of the Fathers. It is a plea for something whereby a man is helped by God. The motions of prayer are delimited by these movements. Purity or impurity of prayer is to be determined in this manner: if, at the time when the mind makes ready to offer up one of its aforementioned movements, a foreign thought commingles with it, or it wanders in something, then this prayer is not to be called pure; for it has brought an unclean animal to the altar of the Lord, that is the heart, the noetic altar of God. St. Isaac of Syria, The Ascetical Homilies

Prayer is always possible for everyone, rich or poor, noble or simple, strong and weak, healthy and suffering, righteous and sinful. Great is the power of prayer; most of all does it bring the Spirit of God and easiest of all is it to exercise." St. Seraphim of Sarov

Prayer is an activity becoming to the dignity of the mind, or rather, is its real use. "153 Texts on Prayer", St Nilus of Mt Sinai, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," translated from the Russian text, "Dobrotolubiye," by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, eighth edition, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 127 - 135.

Prayer is an excellent task for the servants of Christ above all others, for the other things are ministries and secondary. . . Truly this is the task entrusted to us by God, and the crown of all else. St. Symeon of Thessalonica

Prayer is communing of life. Abandoning it brings unseen death ... St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

Prayer is converse with God, equal honor with the Angels, progress in good things, averting of evils, righting of sinners. St Ephrem the Syrian, 'Three Short Discourses', from 'http://web.ukonline.co.uk/ephrem/3disc.htm'

Prayer is the flower of gentleness and freedom from anger Evagrios the Solitary

Prayer is the fruit of joy and thankfulness. Evagrios the Solitary

Prayer is the laying aside of thoughts. Evagrios Ponticus, "On Prayer 61," in the Philokalia

Prayer is the mind's dialogue with God, in which words of petition are uttered with the intellect riveted wholly on God. For when the mind unceasingly repeats the name of the Lord and the intellect gives its full attention to the invocation of the divine name, the light of the knowledge of God overshadows the entire soul like a luminous cloud. Theoliptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia (On Inner Work in Christ)

Prayer is the seed of gentleness and the absence of anger. Abba Nilus

Prayer is the speaking of the mind to God. What structure does the mind need so that, not looking back (nor hither and thither), it may rise to the Lord and converse with Him, with no intermediary? "153 Texts on Prayer", St Nilus of Mt Sinai, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," translated from the Russian text, "Dobrotolubiye," by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, eighth edition, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 127 - 135.

Prayer is to be praised not merely for quantity but also for quality. This is shown by the "two men (who) went up into the temple to pray" (Luke 18:10), and also by the words, "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions" and so on (Matthew 6:7). "153 Texts on Prayer", St Nilus of Mt Sinai, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," translated from the Russian text, "Dobrotolubiye," by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, eighth edition, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 127 - 135.

Prayer is truly a heavenly armor, and is alone can keep safe those who have dedicated themselves to God. Prayer is the common medicine for purifying ourselves from the passions, for hindering sin and curing our faults. Prayer is an inexhaustible treasure, an unruffled harbor, the foundation of serenity, the root and mother of myriads of blessings. "Modern Orthodox Saints, St. Nectarios of Aegina", Dr. Constantine Cavarnos, Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Belmont, Massachusetts., 1981., pp. 154-187

Prayer offered to God in truth is imperishable. Now and then we may forget what we have prayed about but God preserves our prayer forever. St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ, Part 1; Holy Trinity Monastery pg. 36)

Prayer unites one with GOD, being a divine conversation and spiritual communion with the Being that is most beautiful and highest. Prayer is forgetting earthly things, an ascent to heaven. Through prayer we flee to god. "Modern Orthodox Saints, St. Nectarios of Aegina", Dr. Constantine Cavarnos, Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Belmont, Massachusetts., 1981., pp. 154-187

Prayers after reading find the soul stirred by longing for God and so fresher and more vigorous. Prayer is good when it imprints in the soul a clear conception of God. This is in fact the indwelling of God -- to have God established in oneself by means of the memory. Thus we become God's temple, when no earthly concerns interrupt the continuity of this memory, no unexpected emotions disturb the mind, and the worshipper escapes from everything to retire to God. Driving out all that invites us to vice, he devotes his time to the practices that lead to virtue. St. Basil the Great, Letters

Psalmody in a crowded congregation is accompanied by captivity and wandering of the thoughts; but in solitude, this does not happen. However, those in solitude are liable to be assailed by despondency, whereas in congregation the brethren help each other by their zeal. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and Body in Prayer

Q: And if after prayer I do not quickly receive assurance, what should I do? And when this happens by my own fault, but is hidden from me, how can I understand this?

A: If after the third prayer you do not receive assurance, know that you yourself are to blame for this; and if you do not recognize your transgression, reproach yourself, and God will have mercy on you. "Saints Barsanuphius and John: Guidance Toward Spiritual Life," trans. by Fr. Seraphim Rose, (Platina, California: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1990)



Q: How should one pray these three times – at different times, or all at the same time? For it also happens that one cannot put off some matters.

A: If you have free time, pray three times in the course of three days; but if there is extreme need, when there is a difficulty, as at the time of the Savior’s betrayal – then take as your example that He went away three times for prayer and prayed pronouncing the same words three times (Matthew 26:44). Even though, as it seemed, He was not heard, for it was absolutely essential that that dispensation should be fulfilled, still by this example He instructs us also not to become sorrowful when we pray and are not heard at that time; for He knows better than we what is profitable for us. But in any case let us not leave off giving thanks. "Saints Barsanuphius and John: Guidance Toward Spiritual Life," trans. by Fr. Seraphim Rose, (Platina, California: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1990)



Q: My Master! How many times should one pray so that one’s thoughts might receive assurance about this?

A: When you cannot ask the Elder, one should pray three times about every matter, and after this look to see where the heart is inclined, even though it might be fallen, and act in this way. For (this) assurance is noticeable and in every way understandable to the heart. "Saints Barsanuphius and John: Guidance Toward Spiritual Life," trans. by Fr. Seraphim Rose, (Platina, California: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1990)



Remember that while you pray, God expects from you a positive answer to His question: "Do you believe that I can fulfill your prayer?" You must be able to answer from the bottom of your heart: "Yes, I believe, O God," and then you will be answered according to your faith. St. John of Kronstadt

Remember, my dear ones, that as a bird is held up and flies through the air using two wings, so we can spiritually live and strive towards our eternal salvation with fasting and prayer. Prayer leads to fasting, while fasting purifies prayer, makes it more. sincere, more heartfelt and genuine. These two virtues are inseparable: one strengthens the other. We are all people, and as human beings we consist of the body, in which, as in its house, lives the soul. Fasting together with prayer address the needs of the whole man -- his soul and, of course, his body. Metropolitan Vitaly, Paschal Encyclical, 2001 (http://www.orthodox.net/pascha/2001-pascha-vitaly.html)

Rising in the morning stand as firmly as possible before God in your heart, as you offer your morning prayers and then go to the work apportioned to you by God, without withdrawing from Him in your feelings and consciousness....When there is no inner activity occupying a person, one must develop a habit of a continual repetition of a short prayer. This will eventually repeat itself and will bring one to constant remembrance of God, thus rejecting other thoughts of no profit. However, habit of the tongue is one thing, establishment in the heart is another. Bp. Theophan the Recluse

Seat yourself before the Lord continually, keeping the memory of Him in your heart, lest having lingered outside His memory, you are unable to speak boldly when you enter in before Him, because boldness with God comes from constant conversing with Him and from much prayer. Our connection and continuance with men is through the body; but our connection and continuance with God is through the soul's recollection [Syriac:meditation] and the vigilance and sacred offering of frequent prayer. From long continuance in His recollection, a man is transported at times to astonishment and wonder. For, "The heart of them that seek the Lord shall rejoice." St. Isaac the Syrian, "The Ascetical Homilies,"

Self-accusation before God is something that is very necessary for us; and humility of heart is extremely advantageous in our lives, above all at the time of prayer. For prayer requires great attention and needs a proper awareness, otherwise it will turn out to be unacceptable and rejected, and `it will be turned back empty' to our bosom. Martyrius of Edessa, in The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the SpiritualLife

Self-accusation before God is something that is very necessary for us; and humility of heart is extremely advantageous in our lives, above all at the time of prayer. For prayer requires great attention and needs a proper awareness, otherwise it will turn out to be unacceptable and rejected, and `it will be turned back empty' to our bosom. St. Symeon the New Theologian

Should you pray, even a little, from the heart for salvation, you will be saved. Counsels of the Optina Elder Moses (Putilov)

Sincere prayer unites man and God. But nowhere can prayer be as fervent and effective as in God's temple, for there the Awesome Bloodless sacrifice is constantly offered "for all people and all things," there ceaseless prayer is made on behalf of all the faithful, there "the very air is Holy," in the words of one of our devoutly wise bishops. It was not in vain that our God-bearing Fathers from of old called the temple a "school of virtue." Archbishop Averky of Syracuse (of Blessed Memory)

Soiled prayer is one thing, its disappearance is another, robbery is another, and blemish another. Prayer is soiled when we stand before God and picture to ourselves irrelevant and inopportune thoughts. Prayer is lost when we are captured by useless cares. Prayer is stolen from us when our thoughts wander before we realize it. Prayer is blemished by any kind of attack or interruption that comes to us at the time of prayer. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and Body in Prayer

Some stand before earthly kings without weapons and without armor; but others hold staffs of office, or have shields, or swords. The former are vastly superior to the latter, for they are usually personal relations of the king and members of the royal household. So it is with earthly kings. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), STEP 20: On Bodily Vigil, and How to Use It to Attain Spiritual Vigil, and How to Practice It

Sometimes prayer seems to flag and we cry, 'Make haste unto me, O God' (Ps. 70:5). But if we do not let go of the hem of His garment, help will come. It is vital to dwell in prayer in order to counteract the persistently destructive influence of the outside world. Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 8; SVS Press pg. 64)

Spiritual reading, vigils and prayer bring the straying intellect to stability. Evagrios the Solitary

St. Isaac the Syrian writes that we pray with words until the words are cut off and we are left is a state of wonder. St. Isaac the Syrian

Stand patiently and pray steadfastly, brushing off the impacts of worldly cares and all thoughts; for they distract and worry you in order to disturb the impetus of your prayer. "153 Texts on Prayer", St Nilus of Mt Sinai, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," translated from the Russian text, "Dobrotolubiye," by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, eighth edition, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 127 - 135.

Strive as well as you can to enter deeply with the heart into the church reading and singing and to imprint these on the tablets of the heart. St. Ambrose of Optina

Strive to render your mind deaf and dumb during prayer. Blessed is the mind which during prayer keeps itself wholly without image or fantasy. St. Nilus of Sinai

Strive to render your mind deaf and dumb during prayer; then you will be able to pray as you ought. "153 Texts on Prayer", St Nilus of Mt Sinai, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," translated from the Russian text, "Dobrotolubiye," by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, eighth edition, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 127 - 135.

Take care when you pray not to overdo your intercessions for those of the other sex, so as not to be despoiled from the right side. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and Body in Prayer

The Apostle has told us to pray uninterruptedly, without anger or passionate thoughts. And this is excellent advice, for every thought which takes the mind away from God is not merely from the devil but is the devil himself." St. John Chrysostom.

The Saviour commanded: Enter thy closet and pray there to God your Father Which is in secret. This closet, according to the interpretation of St. Dimitri of Restov, signifies the heart. Consequently, the Lord's command obliges us to pray to God secretly, with the mind in the heart. This command extends to all Christians. Bishop Theophan the Recluse - Prayer of the Heart: the duty of those living in the world http://www.roca.org/OA/87/87f.htm

The beginning of the action of grace in prayer manifests itself differently, for, according to the Apostle, the Spirit divides his gifts severally 'as he will' (I Cor. 12:11). To some there comes the spirit of fear, rending the mountains of passions and breaking in pieces the rocks - hardened hearts - such fear that the flesh seems to be pierced by nails and numbed as in death. Others quake, being filled with joy - what the fathers called the leaping of joy. In yet others, pre-eminently in those who have achieved success in prayer, God produces a subtle and serene glow of light when Christ comes to dwell in the heart (Eph. 3:17) and to shine mysteriously in the spirit. Therefore God spoke to Elijah on the mount of Horeb (I Kings 19:12) and said that the Lord is not in this or that - not in some individual actions of beginners - but in a subtle glow of light which shows the perfection of prayer. St. Gregory of Sinai (Instructions to Hesychasts no. 7)

The brethren also asked Abba Agathon, "Amongst all good works, which is the virtue which requires the greatest effort?" He answered, "Forgive me, but I think there is no labor greater than that of prayer to God. For every time a man wants to pray, his enemies, the demons, want to prevent him, for they know that it is only by turning him from prayer that they can hinder his journey. Whatever good work a man undertakes, if he perseveres in it, he will attain rest. But prayer is warfare to the last breath. The Desert Fathers

The brothers said, "In what way ought we to pray before God?" The old man said, "For the repentance of sinners, the finding of the lost, the drawing near of those who are far off, friendliness toward those who do us harm, love towards those who persecute us, and sorrowful care for those who provoke God to wrath. And if a man doeth these things truly and with a penitent mind, the sinners will often gain life, and the living soul will be redeemed.

Now the prayer which our lord delivered to us as to the needs of the body, is one which applieth to the whole community, and it was not uttered for the sake of those who are strangers to the world, and with whom the pleasures of the body are held in contempt. He in whose life the kingdom of God and His righteousness are found lacks nothing, even when he asks not." "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers," vol. II, translated by E. A. Wallis Budge, (Seattle, St. Nectarios Press, 1984), p. 332-333



The brothers said, "What kind of prayer is that which is not acceptable before God?" The old man said, "The prayer for the destruction of enemies. When we ask that evil things may come upon those who do harm to us, and for bodily health, and abundance of possessions, and fertility in respect of children, these requests are not acceptable before God. If God beareth with us, who are sinners and who offend Him, how much more is it right that we should bear each with the other? It is, then, not meet that we should ask for the things which concern the body, for the wisdom of God provideth everything necessary." "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers," vol. II, translated by E. A. Wallis Budge, (Seattle, St. Nectarios Press, 1984), p. 332-333

The enemy knows that prayer is our invincible weapon against him, and so he tries to keep us from praying. He fills us with a desire for secular learning, and encourages us to spend our time on studies that we have already renounced. Let us resist his suggestions; otherwise, if we neglect our own fields and go wandering elsewhere, we shall harvest thorns and thistles instead of figs and grapes. "For the wisdom of this world is folly in God's sight" (I Corinthians 3:19). St. John of Karpathos "The Philokalia: the Complete Text" (volume I), by St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth, trans. By G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and (Bishop) Kallistos Ware, (London: Faber and Faber, 1979), pp. 298 - 309

The enemy lurks like a lion in his den; he lays in our path hidden traps and snares, in the form of impure and blasphemous thoughts. But if we continue wakeful, we can lay for him traps and snares and ambuscades that are far more effective and terrible. Prayer, the recitation of psalms and the keeping of vigils, humility, service to others and acts of compassion, thankfulness, attentive listening to the words of Scripture -- all these are a trap for the enemy, an ambuscade, a pitfall, a noose, a lash and a snare. St. John of Karpathos "The Philokalia: the Complete Text" (volume I), by St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth, trans. By G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and (Bishop) Kallistos Ware, (London: Faber and Faber, 1979), pp. 298 - 309

The good Physician calls me and demands no payment,nor does he spill my blood.But my slothfulness prevents me from going to Him.He comes Himself to heal me,but always finds me engaged in acts that prevent His remedies from rendering me their healing power.O Lord,enlighten and sober me.Cure me and I will be cured. St.Ephraim the Syrian

The inexperienced monk is wide awake in friendly conversation; but his eyes become heavy when the hour of prayer is upon him. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), STEP 20: On Bodily Vigil, and How to Use It to Attain Spiritual Vigil, and How to Practice It

The late Athonite Father Tikhon used to say: The prayer, "Lord Jesus have mercy on us" is worth one hundred drachmas, but "Glory to God" is word one thousand. Glorifying God is more valuable than anything else, because in the first instance, people often say the Jesus Prayer when needing something; but when one glorifies God in the midst of suffering, it is an ascesis. An Athonite Gerontikon

The man who desires to come to the Lord and to be found worthy of eternal life should force himself to every good work and to fulfilling all the commandments of the Lord because of sin that is present with him. One must force himself to prayer when he has not spiritual prayer; and thus God, beholding him thus striving and compelling himself by force, in spite of an unwilling heart, gives him the true prayer of the Spirit. St. Macarius the Great

The man who stores up injuries and resentments and yet fancies that he prays might as well draw water from a well and pour it into a cask that is full of holes. Evagrius, On Prayer, 22 c. AD 395

The means to confirm and strengthen Christian hope are prayer, especially frequent and sincere prayer, confession of our sins, frequent reading of the Word of God, and, above all, frequent communion of the holy and life-giving sacraments of the Body and Blood of Christ. St John of Kronstadt

The only means by which you can spend the day in perfect holiness, peace, and without sin, is the most sincere, fervent prayer as soon as you rise from sleep in the morning. It will bring Christ into your heart, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, and will thus strengthen and fortify your soul against any evil; but still it will be necessary for you carefully to guard your heart. St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ, Part 1; Holy Trinity Monastery pg. 18)

The soul of prayer is attentiveness. As the body without a soul is dead, so prayer without attentiveness is dead. St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

The word of Paul urges me to persevere in prayer to Thee and to await Thee Taking confidence, then, I pray, for I am sure of Thy mercies. I pray that Thou mayest first draw night to me and summon me to claim me as Thine, And that Thou dost tarry to give the reward of persistence, Thou Who dost will that all men be saved. A Prayer, in Kontakia of Romanos, Vol. II

The work of prayer belongs to the angels, and is, therefore, the special concern of the Church. Every other work, i.e., charity, nursing the brethren, visiting the sick, caring for prisoners, releasing captives, and other similar things, is done by the brethren in love and offered by them to God. Similarly, poverty, fasting, sleeping on the ground, prostrations, vigils, etc., are good and like a sacrifice to God, because they aim to subdue and humble the body so that we may be purified and approach God and become friends of God -- yet these things do not present us directly to God, whereas prayer does so and unites us with Him. A person praying acts towards God like a friend -- conversing, confiding, requesting -- and through this becomes one with our Maker Himself. St. Isaac the Syrian

The work of prayer is one and the same for all, but there are many kinds of prayer and many different prayers. Some converse with God as with a friend and master, interceding with praise and petition, not for themselves but for others. Some strive for greater (spiritual) riches and glory and for confidence in prayer. Others ask for complete deliverance from their adversary. Some beg to receive some kind of rank; others for complete forgiveness of debts. Some ask to be released from prison; others for remission from offences. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and Body in Prayer

There are five occupations which help to gain God's benevolence. The first is pure prayer; the second, psalmody; the third, reading the Holy Scriptures; the fourth, contrite remembrance of one's sins, of death and the terrible judgment; the fifth, work with one's hands. "Reflections on the Eight Thoughts", Abba Evagrius, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," translated from the Russian text, "Dobrotolubiye," by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, eighth edition, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 113 - 114

There is no possession more precious than prayer in the whole of human life. Never be parted from it; never abandon it. But, as our Lord said, let us pray that out toil may not be for nothing, ‘When you stand in prayer, forgive if you have anything against anyone, that your heavenly Father may forgive you your faults’. St Ephrem the Syrian, 'Three Short Discourses', from 'http://web.ukonline.co.uk/ephrem/3disc.htm'

Therefore, if we wish our prayers to penetrate not only the heavens but even what is above the heavens, we should make an effort to draw our mind, purged of every earthly vice and cleansed of all the dregs of the passions, back to its natural lightness, so that its prayer might ascend to God, unburdened by the weight of any vice. St. John Cassian, The Conferences

Those who have been cleansed through following the path of stillness (hesychis) are counted worthy to see things invisible..., undergoing, as it were, the way of negation and not forming ideas about it. (citing St Gregory Palamas) Abbot Vasilios of Iveron Monastery in Hymn of Entry, p. 103

Those who have truly decided to serve the Lord God should practice the remembrance of God and uninterrupted prayer to Jesus Christ, mentally saying: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. St. Seraphim of Sarov

Those who have truly decided to serve the Lord God should practice the remembrance of God and uninterrupted prayer to Jesus Christ, mentally saying: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me a sinner. St Seraphim of Sarov - Spiritual Instructions

Those whose mind has learned true prayer converse with the Lord face to face, as if speaking into the ear of the emperor. Those who make vocal prayer fall down before Him as if in the presence of the whole senate. But those who live in the world petition the emperor amidst the clamor of all the crowds. If you have learned the art of prayer scientifically, you cannot fail to know what I have said. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step27: On Holy Stillness of Body and Soul

Though you may have climbed the whole ladder of the virtues, pray for forgiveness of sins. Listen to the cry of Paul regarding sinners: Of whom I am chief. (I Timothy 1:15) St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and Body in Prayer

Thoughts are directed to things. Now, of things some are sense-perceptible, some mental. The mind, then, tarrying with these things, carries about with itself thoughts of them; but the grace of prayer joins the mind to God, and joining to God withdraws it from every thought. Then the mind, associating only with Him, becomes God-like. And being such, it asks of Him what is proper and at no time fails of its petition. Therefore the Apostle commands to 'pray without ceasing.' that, unremittingly joining our mind to God, we may little by little break off our passionate clinging to material things. St. Maximus the Confessor, The Ascetic Life.

Through the prayer of faith we can obtain from the All-merciful and All-bestowing God all spiritual and indispensable earthly blessings besides, if only the prayer is fervent and the desire to obtain these blessings sincere. And what prayers the Church puts into our mouths! Such, that by means of them we can easily incline the Lord to be merciful to us and to bestow upon us every good gift. The enemy, knowing God's goodness and the power of prayer, endeavors by every means to deter us from it, or during the prayer tries to distract our minds, to hinder us by various passions and attachments to earthly things, or by hurry, disturbance, etc. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

To acquire prayer is to acquire eternity. When the body lies dying, the cry 'Jesus Christ' becomes the garment of the soul; when the brain no longer functions and other prayers are difficult to remember, in the light of the divine knowledge that proceeds from the Name our spirit will rise into life incorruptible. Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Part 2: Chapter 2; SVS Press pg. 120)

To bear a grudge and pray, means to sow seed on the sea and expect a harvest. St. Isaac of Syria

To beginners the law of prayer is burdensome, like a despotic master; but to the more advanced it is like an erotic force, impelling those smitten by it as a hungry man is impelled towards a rich banquet. Ilias the Presbyter(Gnomic Anthology II no. 107))

To describe it with the boldest expression, prayer is a conversation with God. Even if we speak with a low voice, even if we whisper without opening the lips, even if we call to Him only from the depths of our heart, our unspoken word always reaches God and God always hears. Sometimes, however, besides speaking, we lift our head and lift our arms to heaven. In this way, we are underlining the desire that the spirit has for the spiritual world. We are striving with the word to raise the body above the earth. We are giving wings to the soul for it to reach the good things on high. St. Clement of Alexandria.

True prayer is a gift of God, which is granted to him that prayeth, that is, to those who labor in it unremittingly, continually, without sloth, according to what is written: He granteth his prayer to him that prayeth. If with every virtue habit is not acquired at once, but according to the measure of one's practice in it, then even more the habit of prayer requires long-continued labor and unremitting forcing of oneself. Abbess Thaisia, Letters to a Beginner

True prayer is undistracted, prolonged, performed with a contrite heart an alert intellect. The vehicle of prayer is everywhere humility, and prayer is a manifestation of humility. For being conscious of our own weakness, we invoke the power of God. "Modern Orthodox Saints, St. Nectarios of Aegina", Dr. Constantine Cavarnos, Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Belmont, Massachusetts., 1981., pp. 154-187

True wisdom is gazing at God. Gazing at God is silence of the thoughts. Stillness of mind is tranquillity which comes from discernment. St. Isaac the Syrian in the Sebastian Brock translation of Homily 64

Truth is the foundation of everything that has been created. Let truth be also the foundation of all your works (both inward and outward), and especially the foundation of your prayers. Let all your life, all your works, all your thoughts, and all your desires be founded upon truth. St. John of Kronstadt

War proves the soldier's love for his king; but the time and discipline of prayer show the monk's love for God. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and Body in Prayer

We should not be distressed if, in asking the Lord for something, we remain for a time unheard. It would have pleased the Lord if all men in a single moment had become dispassionate; however, His foreknowledge told Him that this would not be for their good. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step26: On Discernment of Thoughts, Passions and Virtue

We should thank the Lord for everything and give ourselves up to His will; we should likewise offer Him all our thoughts and words, and strive to make everything serve only His good pleasure. St Seraphim of Sarov - Spiritual Instructions

What is meant by those who sing with their "heart to the Lord?" It means: undertake this work with attention, for those who are in attentive sing in vain, pronouncing only words, while their heart wanders elsewhere. St. John Chrysostom

Whatever you have endured out of love of wisdom will bear fruit for you at the time of prayer. Abba Nilus

Whatever you have endured out of love of wisdom will bear fruit for you at the time of prayer." Abba Nilus, in "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers," (in Sr. Benedicta Ward, Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications, 1975), pp. 153-155

When people go to the Lord with a firm resolve, He never allows them to fall back completely. He sees their weakness and works with them to help. He stretches out His hand of power from on high and draws them to Himself. His assistance is at the same time open, yet secret, conscious, yet unconscious, until such time as we have climbed right up the ladder and drawn close to Him. Then we will be made one in the All and forget all the things of earth, and be with God, whether in body our out of it I do not know. There we shall be fellow citizens, enjoying the good things that cannot be described. St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Practical and Theological Chapters

When praying heedfully, guard yourself with great caution, so as to pray in Psalms and to chant prayers with fear, joy, firm zeal, and a low bow to the divine icon. For you will find in the Psalms both instruction and prayer. Let us not pronounce the words only with the tip of the tongue, but pray with our whole heart. Join into one the body, the soul, and the mind. St. Paisius Velichkovksy, Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. IV

When the mind and heart are united in prayer and the soul's thoughts are not dispersed, the heart is warmed by spiritual warmth in which the light of Christ shines, making the whole inner man peaceful and joyous. St Seraphim of Sarov - Spiritual Instructions

When the mind and heart are united in prayer and the soul's thoughts are not dispersed, the heart is warmed by spiritual warmth in which the light of Christ shines, making the whole inner man peaceful and joyous. St. Seraphim of Sarov.

When we are in trouble or despair or have lost hope, we should do what David did: pour out our hearts to God and tell Him of our needs and troubles, just as they are (cf. Ps. 142:2). It is because He can deal with us wisely that we confess to God: He can make our troubles easy to bear, if this is for our benefit, and can save us from the dejection which destroys and corrupts. St. Hesychius the Priest, Philokalia, Vol. I.

When you are praying alone, and your spirit is dejected, and you are wearied and oppressed by your loneliness, remember then, as always, that God the Trinity looks upon you with eyes brighter than the sun; also all the angels, your own Guardian Angel, and all the Saints of God. Truly they do; for they are all one in God, and where God is, there are they also. Where the sun is, thither also are directed all its rays. Try to understand what this means. Elder Herman of Mt. Athos

When you pray to God in time of temptation do not say, 'Take this or that away from me', but pray like this: 'O Jesus Christ, sovereign Master, help me and do not let me sin against Thee. . .' St. John Chrysostom

When you pray to God in time of temptation do not say, 'Take this or that away from me', but pray like this: 'O Jesus Christ, sovereign Master, help me and do not let me sin against Thee... Abba Isaiah the Solitary.

When you pray with prayers to which you have grown accustomed - from praying them over and over again - remember that the Lord is from all eternity the same. Your heart may change and grow cold, but the same words of the same prayer still have the same power with the Lord, Who Himself is the same, "yesterday, today, and forever. St. John of Kronstadt

When you pray, try to let the prayer reach your heart; in other words, it is necessary that your heart should feel what you are talking about in your prayer, that it should wish for the blessing for which you are asking.... Observe, during prayer, whether your heart is in accord with that which you are saying. St. John of Kronstadt

When you stand praying - burdened with many sins, and overpowered by despair - begin to pray with hope, with a fervent spirit; and remind yourself that, 'the Holy Spirit Itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.' When you recall with faith this work of the Spirit of God within us, then tears will flow from your eyes, you will feel in your soul peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, and you will cry in your heart, 'Abba, Father!' St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

When you turn to God in prayer, be in your thoughts as an ant, as a serpent of the earth, like a worm, like a stuttering child. Do not speak to Him something philosophical or high-sounding, but approach Him with a child's attitude. St. Isaac the Syrian(Homily 49)

When your mind, inflamed by longing for God, little by little divests itself of flesh, as it were, and turns away from all thoughts engendered by sensory impressions, or from memory, being at the same time full of adoration and rejoicing, then you may conclude that it has approached the boundaries of prayer. "153 Texts on Prayer", St Nilus of Mt Sinai, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," translated from the Russian text, "Dobrotolubiye," by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, eighth edition, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 127 - 135.

When, standing at prayer, you are above all other joy, know that you have truly attained prayer. "153 Texts on Prayer", St Nilus of Mt Sinai, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," translated from the Russian text, "Dobrotolubiye," by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, eighth edition, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 127 - 135

Whenever you become absent-minded, choose spiritual reading over prayer, for reading is the source of pure prayer. St. Isaac of Syria

Whether you are in church, or in your house, or in the country; whether you are guarding sheep, or constructing buildings, or present at drinking parties, do not stop praying. When you are able, bend your knees, when you cannot, make intercession in your mind, ‘at evening and at morning and at midday’. If prayer precedes your work and if, when you rise from your bed, your first movements are accompanied by prayer, sin can find no entrance to attack your soul. St Ephrem the Syrian, 'Three Short Discourses', from 'http://web.ukonline.co.uk/ephrem/3disc.htm'

Whether you pray with brethren or alone, try to pray not simply as a routine, but with conscious awareness of your prayer. "Conscious awareness of prayer is concentration accompanied by reverence, compunction and distress of soul as it confesses its sin with inward sorrow. Evagrius the Solitary(On Prayer no. 42-43)

While another God-loving monk was practicing inner prayer walking in the wilderness, two angels appeared and walked along on either side of him. But he never turned his attention to them for a moment, lest he should lose something better, for he remembered the words of the Apostle, neither "angels, no principalities, nor powers . . . shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38, 39). "153 Texts on Prayer", St Nilus of Mt Sinai, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," translated from the Russian text, "Dobrotolubiye," by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, eighth edition, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 127 - 135.

Why do we honor the Cross with such reverence that we make mention of its power in our prayers after asking for the intercession of the Mother of God and the Heavenly Powers, before asking for that of the Saints, and sometimes even before asking for that of the Heavenly Powers? Because after the Saviour's sufferings, the Cross became the sign of the Son of Man, that is, the Cross signifies the Lord Himself, incarnate and suffering for our salvation. St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

Worship is the norm of Christian existence. It should be the constant disposition or attitude of the Christian man. Indeed, to worship God means precisely to be aware of His presence, to dwell constantly in this presence. It is through worship that the ‘new man’ is being formed in the believer, and the baptismal grace of adoption is actualized. The Christian man must be always in the state of worship, whether it is expressed in words or not. In its essence worship is the orientation of man towards God. Protopresbyter Georges Florovsky (1893-1979)

You may judge how great the power of prayer is even in a sinful person, when it is offered wholeheartedly, by the following example from Holy Tradition. When at the request of a desperate mother who had been deprived by death of her only son, a harlot whom she chanced to meet, still unclean from her last sin, and who was touched by the mother's deep sorrow, cried to the Lord: 'Not for the sake of a wretched sinner like me, but for the sake of the tears of a mother sorrowing for her son and firmly trusting in Thy loving kindness and Thine almighty power, Christ God, raise up her son, O Lord!' And the Lord raised him up. (From the life of St. Theodore of Edessa.) St. Seraphim of Sarov, A Wonderful Revelation to the World

You should not make long prayer, for it is better to pray little but often. Superfluous words are idle talk. St. Theophylact

Your prayer will show you what condition you are in. Theologians say that prayer is the monk's mirror. St. John Climacus, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1978), Step28: On Holy and Blessed Prayer, the Mother of Virtues, and on the Attitude of Mind and Body in Prayer

Prayer is a guard of prudence, control of wrath, restraint of pride, cleansing of malice, destruction of envy, righting of impiety. Prayer is strength of bodies, prosperity of a household, good order of a city, might of a kingdom, trophy of war, assurance of peace. Prayer is a seal of virginity, fidelity in marriage, weapon of travellers, guardian of sleepers, courage of the wakeful, abundance for farmers, safety of those who sail. Prayer is an advocate for those being judged, remission for the bound, consolation for the grieving, gladness for the joyful, comfort for mourners, a feast on birthdays, a crown for the married, a shroud for the dying. REF:Fr Seraphim Rose, "Letters"

"The true beginning of prayer is warmth of the heart, which scorches the passions and fills the soul with joy and gladness, strengthening the heart with an unshakable love and a firm assurance that leaves no room for doubt.

The Fathers say that whatever enters the soul, whether visible or invisible, is not from God so long as the heart is in doubt about it and so does not accept it: in such cases, it is something that comes from the enemy.

In the same way if you see your mind attracted by some invisible force to wander outside or soar high do not trust it and do not allow the mind to be to be enticed by it; but immediately force you mind to continue with its proper work. Whatever is of God comes by itself, says St. Isaac, whilst you are ignorant even of the time of its coming.

Thus the enemy tries to produce an illusion of some spiritual experience within us, offering us a mirage instead of the real thing-unruely burning instead of true spiritual warmth, and instead of joy, irrational excitement and physical pleasure which in turn gives rise to pride and conceit and he even succeeds in concealing himself from the inexperienced behind such seducements, so they think his diabolic illusion is really the working of grace.

Yet time, experience, and feeling will reveal him to those who are not altogether ignorant of his evil wiles. 'The palate discriminates between different foods,' says the Scriptures. In the same way spiritual taste shows all things as they are, without any illusion. St. Gregory of Sinai (The Art of Prayer, Complied by Igumen Chariton of Valamo, translated by E.Kadloubovsky and E.M. Palmer, faber & faber, 1997 p.264.)



9) Persevere with patience in your prayer, and repulse the cares and doubts that arise within you. 11) Try to make your intellect deaf and dumb during prayer, you will then be able to pray. Evagrios the Solitary, "On Prayer," in the Philokalia:

And what is a merciful heart? It is the heart's burning for the sake of the entire creation, for men, for birds, for animals, for demons and for every created thing; and by the recollection and sight of them the eyes of a merciful man pour forth abundant tears. From the strong and vehement mercy which grips his heart and from his great compassion, his heart is humbled and he cannot bear to hear or see any injury or slight sorrow in creation. For this reason he continually offers up tearful prayer, even for irrational beasts, for the enemies of the truth and for those who harm him, that they be protected and receive mercy. And in like manner he even prays for the family of reptiles because of the great compassion that burns in his heart without measure in the likeness of God. St. Isaac the Syrian

Love of God proceeds from conversing with him; this conversation of prayer comes about through stillness, and stillness comes with the stripping away of the self. St. Isaac the Syrian, "The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life," Sebastian Brock, Cistercian Publications;

Prayer is the laying aside of thoughts. Evagrios Ponticus, "On Prayer 61," in the Philokalia

The great prophet Daniel, who chose death rather than being without prayer for a single moment (Dan 9), teaches us that we should regard being deprived of prayer as worse than any death. Monks Callistus and Ignatius (Directions to Hesychasts no. 29, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg. 200)

The purpose of prayer is for us to acquire love for God, for in prayer can be discovered all sorts of reasons for loving God. St. Isaac the Syrian, "The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life," Sebastian Brock, Cistercian Publications;

Upon awakening, first give praise to God and, having asked His intercession, begin your most important work, that is, to pray in the heart, purely and without distraction... We are commanded to bring the first and best as offering to God, that is our first thought which we must direct straight to our Lord Jesus Christ in a pure prayer of the heart... Monks Callistus and Ignatius (Directions to Hesychasts no. 26, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg. 197)

When a sailor voyages in the midst of the sea, he watches the stars and in relation to them he guides his ship until he reaches harbor.

But a monk watches prayer, because it sets him right and directs his course to that harbor toward which his discipline should lead. A monk gazes at prayer at all times, so that it might show him an island where he can anchor his ship and take on provisions; then once more he sets his course for another island.

Such is the voyage of a monk in this life: he sails from one island to another, that is, from knowledge to knowledge, and by his successive change of islands, that is, of states of knowledge, he progresses until he emerges from the sea and his journey attains to that true city, whose inhabitants no longer engage in commerce but each rests upon his own riches. Blessed is the man who has not lost his course in this vain world, on this great sea! Blessed is the man whose ship has not broken up and who has reached harbor with joy! St Isaac of Syria



God listens, not to our voice, but to our heart. He does not need to be prodded with shouts, since He sees our thoughts. St. Cyprian of Carthage

"Heartfelt prayer is the source of peace of heart, whilst insincere, superficial, inattentive prayer wounds the heart." St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ, Part 1 - Pg. 90

“God will not judge us about psalmody, nor for the neglect of prayer, but because by abandoning them we have opened our door to the demons.” St. Isaac the Syrian

"Prayer and praying make men temples of God. As gold, precious stones and marble adorn the palaces of kings, so do prayers adorn the temples of Christ - the souls of believers." Monks Callistus and Ignatius (Directions to Hesychasts no. 29, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg. 200)

When you are praying, watch over yourself so that not only your outward man prays, but your inward one also. Though you be sinful beyond measure, still pray. Do not heed the devil's provocation, craftiness, and despair, but overcome and conquer his wiles. Remember the abyss of the Saviour's mercy and love to mankind. The devil will represent the Lord's fact to you as terrible and unmerciful, rejecting your prayer and repentance; but remember the Saviour's own words, full of every hope and boldness for us: `Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out'; and `Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden' - with sins and iniquities, and wiles and calumnies of the devil - and I will give you rest.' St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

Thirst for Jesus, so that he may fill you to overflowing with His love. Blind your eyes to all that is held in honor in the world, so that you may be held worthy to have the peace which comes from God reign in your heart. Fast from the attractions that make the eyes glitter, in order that you may become worthy of spiritual joy. If your way of life is unworthy of God, then do not ask Him for glorious things, otherwise, you will appear as someone who tempts God. Prayer conforms strictly with behavior. St Isaac of Nineveh

When you cultivate prayer the Tempter's blusterings will not trouble you. Prayer diminishes his strength, he cannot do anything to us. (February 1965) Elder Amphilochios Makris - http://agrino.org/cyberdesert/makris.htm

Prayer is grace. God gives it when zeal and humility exist. Elder Amphilochios Makris - http://agrino.org/cyberdesert/makris.htm

Leave all your concerns to the hands of God. Ask for whatever you want, like a child asking from its father. Elder Amphilochios Makris - http://agrino.org/cyberdesert/makris.htm

Prayer is a gift from God. Always ask with hope. Elder Amphilochios Makris - http://agrino.org/cyberdesert/makris.htm

“God listens, not to our voice, but to our heart. He does not need to be prodded with shouts, since He sees our thoughts. St. Cyprian of Carthage

When you stand praying, burdened with many sins and overpowered with despair, begin to pray with hope, with a fervent spirit, and remind yourself that 'the Spirit Itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered!' (Rom. 8:26). When you remember with faith this action of the Spirit of God within us, then tears of emotion will flow from your eyes, you will feel in your soul peace, sweetness, justification, 'and joy in the Holy Ghost,' (Rom. 14:17) and you will cry in your heart, 'Abba, Father!' REF:St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christpg. 125

35. Prayer is called a virtue, but in reality it is the mother of the virtues: for it gives birth to them through union with Christ. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

36. Whatever we do without prayer and without hope in God turns out afterwards to be harmful and defective. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

96. Prayer comprises the complete fulfillment of the commandments; for there is nothing higher than love for God. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

97. Undistracted prayer is a sign of love for God; but careless or distracted prayer is a sign of love for pleasure. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

108. Everything we say or do without prayer afterwards turns out to be unreliable or harmful, and so shows us up without our realizing it. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

167. If a man disregards the commandment about prayer, he then commits worse acts of disobedience, each one handing him over to the next like a prisoner. REF:Saint Kosmas Aitolos +1779

Brethren, let us also occupy yourselves with noetic prayer…, and seeking God’s mercy, cry out with a humble heart from morning till night and if possible all night long, saying constantly: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us.” REF:Saint John Chrysostom





Redeeming the Time

↑ Grab this Headline Animator





We confidently recommend our web service provider, Orthodox Internet Services: excellent personal customer service, a fast and reliable server, excellent spam filtering, and an easy to use comprehensive control panel.

St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas