All in Prayer

I. Restoration to the Divine Image in Which We Were Made is Only Possible by Our Imitation of God’s Will
If, dearly beloved, we comprehend faithfully and wisely the beginning of our creation, we shall find that man was made in God’s image, to the end that he might imitate his Creator, and that our race attains its highest natural dignity, by the form of the Divine goodness being reflected in us, as in a mirror. And assuredly to this form the Saviour’s grace is daily restoring us, so long as that which, in the first Adam fell, is raised up again in the second. And the cause of our restoration is naught else but the mercy of God, Whom we should not have loved, unless He had first loved us, and dispelled the darkness of our ignorance by the light of His truth.

Delivered on the 29th of November, 1864 by Saint Theophan the Recluse


I have explained to you briefly two aspects or two levels of prayer, namely: prayer which is read, when we pray to God with the prayers of others, and one’s mental prayer, where we ascend mentally to God through contemplation of God, dedicating all to God, and often crying out to Him from our hearts. (1) 

But this is still not all. There is a third aspect or level of prayer, which makes up true prayer, and for which the first two aspects are only preparation. This is the unceasing turning of the mind and heart to God, accompanied by interior warmth or burning of the spirit. This is the limit to which prayer should aspire, and the goal which every prayerful laborer should have in mind, so that he does not work uselessly in the work of prayer.

Delivered the 22nd of November, 1864 by Saint Theophan the Recluse

 

Yesterday I showed you one method of establishing a prayerful spirit in yourselves [see homily 1], namely, how to pray in a way which corresponds to the meaning of the prayers. But this is only the beginning of the art (science) of prayer and it is necessary to go further. Consider the study of language, for example. First one studies words and phrases from books. But this is not sufficient, one must go further, and truly reach the point where he can correctly form phrases in the given language without the aid of the textbook. It is the same in the work of prayer. We get used to praying with prayer books, praying using prepared prayers given to us by the Lord and the Holy Fathers who were successful in prayer. But we should not stop at that, we need to continue on, and having accustomed ourselves to making petition to God for help with our minds and hearts, we must attempt to ascend to Him. We must strive to reach the point where our soul by itself begins speaking, so to speak, in a prayerful conversation with God and by itself ascends to Him and opens itself to Him and confesses what is in it and what it desires.

Delivered the 21st of November, 1864 by Saint Theophan the Recluse

 

On the feast day of the Entrance into the Temple of the Most-holy Theotokos, I find it timely to give you instruction in prayer - the main work of the temple. A temple is a place of prayer and arena of prayer’s development. For us, entry into the temple is entry into a prayerful spirit. The Lord has the kindness to call our hearts His temple, where we enter mentally and stand before Him, ascending to Him like the fragrant smoke of incense. We are going to study how to attain this state.

Introduction

There are three ways of attention and prayer, by which the soul can be lifted and become spiritually exhaulted, or crumble and perish. If these three ways are used appropriately and at the right time, the soul will be lifted, whilst if they are used unreasonably and at the wrong time, the soul will perish. Attention therefore should be tied and inseparable to prayer, in the way that the body is tied and inseparable to the soul. Attention should have the lead and mind for enemies as a guard, and fight sin, and resist evil thoughts of the soul. It should be then succeeded by prayer, which will destroy all those evil thoughts which attention fought against earlier, since attention alone is not able to do this.