Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) of Nafpatkos, pictured here (on the right) many years ago with Elder Sophrony Sakharov. Below are the stages of prayer he outlines. What I learned the hard way is that you MUST begin at the first stage and you CANNOT force your way to higher stages. Trust me. My pride convinced me that I was better than others and could immediately go to mental prayer. I spent years with a wandering mind and little time in actual prayer. The Holy Spirit will lead to you to higher levels as you progress in your ability to concentrate. It is best not to force it. Also, you will find that progress in prayer is not a linear progression as indicated by the neatly presented five steps. You will move up and then return to the beginning from time to time.
Fr. James Early
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