is by its very nature a dialogue and a union with God. Its
effect is to hold the world together and to achieve a
reconciliation with God. Prayer is the mother and daughter
of tears. It is expiation of sin, a bridge over temptation,
a barrier against affliction. It wipes out conflict, is the
work of Angels and the nourishment of all bodiless beings.
Prayer is the future gladness, an endless work, a wellspring
of virtues, a source of grace, hidden progress, food for the
soul, an illumination of the mind, an axe against despair, a
proof of hope, sorrow done away with, the wealth of monks,
the treasure of hesychasts, the reduction of anger, the
mirror of progress, a demonstration of success, evidence of
one's condition, the future revealed, and a sign of glory.
For him who truly prays, prayer is the court, the judgment
hall and the tribunal of the Lord before the judgment to
Let us rise and listen to what the holy queen of the
virtues cries with a loud voice and says to us: Come to me,
all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you
rest. Take my yoke upon you, and you shall find rest for
your souls and healing for your wounds. For my yoke is easy
and is sovereign remedy for great sins.
Those of us about to stand before our King and God in
order to speak with Him should not move into this without
preparation, lest, seeing us from afar without weapons and
clothing suitable for those who stand before the King, He
should order his servants and slaves to bind us, to drive us
out of His sight and to tear up our petitions and throw them
in our face.
When you are going to stand before the Lord. let the
garment of your soul be woven throughout with the thread of
wrongs suffered but forgotten. Otherwise, prayer will be of
no benefit to you.
Pray in all simplicity. For both the tax collector and
the prodigal son were reconciled to God by a single
The work of prayer is one and the same for all, but there
are various and many different kinds of prayer. 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] treasures 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
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 monks by an
angel of the Lord...
Do not be over-complicated in the words you use when
praying, because the simple and unadorned lisping of the
children has often won the heart of their Heavenly
Try not to talk excessively when you pray, lest your mind
be distracted in searching for words. One word of the tax
collector appeased God, and one cry of faith saved the
thief. Talkative prayer often distracts the mind and leads
to phantasy, whereas brevity makes for concentration.
If during your prayer some word evokes delight or
compunction within you, linger over it; for at that moment
our guardian Angel is praying with us. However pure you may
be, do not be forward in your dealings with God. Approach
Him rather in all humility, and you will be given still more
boldness. And even if you have climbed the whole ladder of
the virtues, pray still for the forgiveness of sins. Heed
Paul's cry regarding sinners 'of whom I am first' (1 Tim
Until we have acquired genuine prayer, we are like people
teaching children to begin to walk.
Try to lift up, or rather, to enclose your thought within
the words of your prayer, and if in its infant state it
wearies and falls, lift it up again. Instability is natural
to the mind, but God is powerful to establish all things...
The beginning of prayer is the expulsion of distractions
from the very start with a brief prayer; the middle stage is
concentration on what is being said or thought; and its
conclusion is rapture in the Lord... Faith gives wings to
prayer, and without it no one can fly upward to
After as long spell of prayer, do not say that nothing
has been gained, for you have already achieved something.
After all, what higher good is there than to cling to the
Lord and to persevere in unceasing union with Him?...
Prepare yourself for your set times of prayer by unceasing
prayer in your soul, and you will soon make progress... Your
prayer shows where you stand. Indeed, theologians say that
prayer is one's mirror...
Do not refuse a request to pray for the soul of another,
even when you yourself lack the gift of prayer. For often
the faith of the person making the request will evoke the
saving contrition of the one who is offering the prayer. Do
not become conceited when you have prayed for others and
have been heard, for it is their faith which has been active
and efficacious... Every virtuous act that we do, and this
is particularly true of prayer, should be done with great
sensitivity... Whatever is obtained as a result of long and
persistent prayer will remain. When one has found the Lord,
one no longer has to use words in prayer, for the Spirit
will intercede for that person with 'sighs too deep for
words' (Rom. 8:26). Do not form sensory images during
prayer, for distraction will certainly follow. The confident
expectation of gaining that for which one is begging will
show up during prayer. Confidence is the absence of doubt.
Confidence is sure proof of the uncertain. If prayer is your
concern, then show yourself to be merciful...
When fire comes to dwell in the heart it resurrects
prayer; and after prayer has been revived and taken up into
heaven, a descent of fire occurs in the upper chamber of the
soul... Do not stop praying as long as, by God's grace, the
fervour and the tears have not been exhausted, for it may
happen that never again in your whole life will you have
such a chance for forgiveness of your sins... Ask with
tears, seek with obedience, knock with patience. For
'everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches
finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened'
(Matt. 7:8)... The hour of prayer is no time for thinking
over necessities, nor even spiritual things, because you may
lose the better part (c.f. Luke 10:42).
Hold on to the staff of prayer and you will not fall. And
even a fall will not be fatal, since prayer is a devout
coercion of God (c.f. Matt. 11:12)... 'I cried out with all
my heart', says the Psalmist (Ps 118:145). He is referring
to body, soul, and spirit; and where the last two are
gathered, God is there in the midst of them (c.f. Matt.
18:20). We are not all the same, either in body or in soul.
Some profit from singing the psalms quickly, others from
doing so slowly... Always be brave, and God will teach you
You cannot learn to see just because someone tell you to
do so. You require your own natural power of sight. In the
same way, you cannot discover from the teachings of others
the beauty of prayer. Prayer has its own teacher in God, Who
'teaches us knowledge' (Ps 93:10) and grants prayer to those
who pray and blesses the years of the just.
from The Ladder of Divine Ascent; Step
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