Friday, April 19, 2019

Praying Without Distraction

Saint Maximos says, “he who prays entirely without distraction loves God genuinely.”

Praying without distraction is a blessing given to those who have been genuinely united with Him. Notice how he places love and prayer together. He is saying that it is prayer that unites us with God. 

Elder Aimilianos in his commentary on Saint Maximos’ “Second Century, Chapters on Love II.1” says,
Prayer is the transcendence of time and thus an entry into timelessness, eternity, perfection, and splendor of God. Prayer is our inclusion in the life of God...”
Think about the implications of your mind being focused on something other than God when you are trying to pray. It means that you are attached to something of this world and not the kingdom of God. It means there is a power in your mind pulling you away from God. There is something that is more important to you than communing with Him. Saint Maximos equates this with not loving God.

Elder Aimilianos says,
When your mind—during prayer—is not wholly fixed on God, but has become attached or diverted to something earthly, or has turned toward something else, then you are not praying without distraction, and you do not have love. When the mind is attached to something else, something other than God, then it is not possible to pray without distraction.”
Think about love in human terms. When you are passionately in love where is your mind? It is focused intently on the other person. When your mind is occupied with other issues you distant yourself from the other person. It is the same with God. To be united with him in prayer requires our full attention. When there are other things on our mind when we pray, it is not possible to pray without distraction.

What distracts us? Elder Aimilianos says,
The mind inclines to things that conform to its way of thinking, to its wishes, and to its desires.”
It is our self-importance that limits our ability to concentrate on other. Our mind is filled with things that we deem more important than the One we are paying to, the One we say we love. These distractions turn us away from God.

Elder Aimilianos tells us,
The mind must be completely empty. All things must be removed from it; everything must be submerged in the abyss of ignorance and oblivion, so that the mind can reach upwards and be seized by God”

Reference: Mystical Marriage, by Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra, pp 6-8

Ten Points for an Orthodox Way of Life

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