Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Illusions in Prayer - Visions

Visions in prayer are normally temptations from the devil aimed at reinforcing our pride.

I once had the experience of praying for something I wanted to do, but was advised not to do so by my spiritual advisor.  A friend suggested I go to a certain place where there were relics of a Saint and to pray to her.  This I did every day for a week.  Nothing happened in the first few days. But I continued to visit trying harder to gain the advice from the Saint.  Then on the last day I was to be there, I saw her hand move and point to the Church.  I then interpreted this on my own as an answer to do what I wanted to do.  Little did I know that this was only the action of my pride working in me. It was a forced vision.

Here is a response by Elder Macarius to a similar situation:
You were several times visited by the illusion that as you looked at the icons they changed, until one day rosy rings, detaching themselves from the icon of our Lady, entered your heart bringing with them the firm conviction that you had been granted the pardon of your sins.  On the authority of the Fathers, I can assure you that the moment you accepted this as a revelation, and ascribed a moral value to the experience, you fell into the clutches of the devil.
The visions we have in prayer or in our dreams can be very misleading when we still suffer from pride.  Only with the gift of discernment, which comes with humility and God's grace, can we ascribe with any certainty spiritual meaning to visions.  This is why a spiritual guide is so important, because we will surely face many illusions aimed to mislead us to reinforce our condition of pride.

The more you advance spiritually the greater the temptations you will face.

Reference: Russian Letters of Spiritual Direction, p 104

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