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Thursday, November 26, 2009
Supporting our Spiritual Yearning
Saint Theophan suggests that the first action is to firmly establish in our minds the knowledge and fear of God. He says, "He who has a live, active fear of God has within himself an inexhaustible strength which sets into motion all that is pleasing to God."1
His recommendation is to read spiritual books combined with prayer. He says, "reading with prayer preceding strengthens the soul and gives it strength for the entire day."2
He is referring here to the Gospel. He suggests, as one reads the Gospel, to write down thoughts in a notebook and record how what you are reading applies to your life and what you must do bring it in harmony with what is being taught in the Gospel.
In your prayer you essential to develop a focused mind so your thoughts do not run wild. It is important when thoughts distract you in prayer to bring your attention back to your prayer. Theophan suggests the following:
Warm your soul before pryer with mediation and with bows.
Use your own prayer: in the evening thank God for the day. Ask forgiveness for what went wrong and promise to make changes the next day. Ask for His protection as you sleep.
In the morning thank God for the sleep that revitalizes you. Then ask Him to help you to do what you need to do this day.
Combine this with the words from your prayer book for morning and evening prayer. By doing the above you remove the distractions that are likely to interfere with your normal daily prayers. Then the words from the prayer book will take on greater meaning .
Also try and learn your prayers by heart. This will help your concentration.
Finally he says, "Learn to think of God not only when you are standing at prayer, but also at every hour at every minute, for He is everywhere. from this peace will pour into your heart, giving strength for daily business and a regulating of affairs."3
1 Saint Theophan the Recluse, The Spiritual Life, p. 145
2 ibid., p. 146
3 ibid., p. 148