Friday, November 29, 2013
Remembering to pray ( St. Silouan the Anthonite )
Whoever loves the Lord remembers Him always, and this memory of the Lord gives birth to prayer. If you do not remember the Lord, you will not pray; in the absence of prayer the soul languishes without the love of God. For it is through prayer that we feel the grace of the Holy Spirit. Prayer saves man from sin, for a praying mind is busy with God and stands in humility before the Lord, whom the soul recognizes.
Prayer is given to those who pray, as the Scriptures say, but prayer offered only by force of habit, without heartfelt sorrow for sins, is not pleasing to the Lord. A loving soul cannot abstain from prayer, for it strives to reach Him through the grace which it feels by means of prayer.
For prayer we have been given churches, in which services are conducted according to books, but you cannot take a church with you, and even books are not always available, whereas internal prayer is with you always and in all places. Holy rites are performed in churches in the presence of the Holy Spirit, but the soul is the best church of God, and whoever prays in the soul knows the world as his church. But this is not for everyone.
Many pray aloud and like to pray from books, and this is good, and the Lord accepts their prayers and has mercy on them. But if someone should pray to the Lord and be thinking of something else, this prayer will not be heard. Whoever prays through habit has no change in prayer, but whoever prays with feeling has many changes: there is a struggle with the enemy, a struggle with oneself, with passions, a struggle with others, and one must remain hearty. Many like to read good books, and this is commendable, but prayer is best.
If your mind wishes to pray in your heart and cannot, then read the prayer aloud and keep your mind on the words of the prayer, as the "Ladder" recommends. In time, the Lord will give you prayer of the heart without interfering thoughts, and prayer will become easy. Some have damaged their hearts by forcing their minds to pray in their hearts and have even reached a point where their mouths could not say the words. Know the order of religious life: gifts are given to a simple, humble, attentive soul. Whoever is obedient is sparing in everything: food, words, acts; to these the Lord gives prayer, and it repeats easily in the heart.
Unceasing prayer derives from love and is lost through passing judgment, idle talk and intemperance. Whoever loves God might think about Him day and night, because no activities can stand in the way of loving God. The Apostles loved God and the world did not stand in their way, though they understood the world, and prayed for it, and preached.
St. Silouan the Anthonite