Monday, December 28, 2009

Humility is a Prerequisite for True Prayer

"Our soul is made to live in the mountainous world of God."

Saint Theophan says that "Before we can make the soul appeal to God ..., it first must be made to turn everything to the glory of God; to attribute to Him our every activity, large and small. He advises us that whenever we begin something we should say, "O Lord bless us."  Then on completing any task we should say, "Glory to Thee O Lord."  We do this not just with our tongue but from our heart with real feeling. When we fall into any kind of sin we should say, "Lord have mercy on me a sinner."  He says, "do this as often as possible, always trying in every way to be sure that each appeal comes from the heart.... and this persistent repetition will end by forming in you the habit of conscious conversation with God."

This act of continually humbling ourselves by calling on our Creator places us in submission he[ing to repress our proud ego.

Elder Paisios expresses the kind of humility needs when he says that we can pray for others with contrition "only if one considers, from humble-mindedness, that one is the cause of everything that befalls one's neighbor."

We also need to pray for our enemies, for those who hate us. Jesus says, But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matt 5:44-45) Whenever we find our selves judging or condemning another person it is an act of pride.  We should immediately do as Jesus commands and pray for that person.

Saint Theophan says,
"Our soul is made to live in the mountainous world of God.  That is where it should always dwell, both in thought and in heart.  But the weight of worldly thoughts and passions attracts it and draws it downwards."

Prayer demands a pure heart - one that is free of hatred, feelings of guilt from sin, and all forms of pride.

Quotes from The Path of Prayer by Saint Theophan the Recluse  pp.13 - 19.

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