Bound by Our Prayers

“Jesus, our advocate, has composed a prayer for our case. And our advocate is also our judge. He has inserted a condition in the prayer that reads: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Sometimes we say these words without carrying them out. Thus our words bind us more tightly.” – St. Gregory the Great, “Be Friends of God”

Reading without prayer is like communion without fasting

“Here is a rule for reading: Before reading you should empty your soul of everything. Arouse the desire to know about what is being read. Turn prayerfully to God. Follow what you are reading with attention and place everything in your open heart.” – St. Theophan the Recluse

Comfort for those Far from Church

“The Inward Temple. There is no need to weep much over the destruction of a church; after all, each of us, according to God’s mercy, has or should have his own church—the heart; go in there and pray, as much as you have strength and time. If this church is not well made and is abandoned (without inward prayer), then the visible church will be of little benefit.” — Archbishop Barlaam to Abbess M., Russia’s Catacomb Saints, p. 281

Comment: Also the Orthodox call the home and family “the little church”. This is a useful analogy and type when we are thinking about everything from the ordering of our ikon corner, which every home should have, to the order of our family enterprise, to the way in which we continually pray and study, corporately and in secret. -DD

Expressing your Heartfelt Needs

“Accustom yourself to pray your own prayers. For instance: it is the essence of evening prayer to thank God for the day and everything that happened, both pleasant and unpleasant; to ask forgiveness for all wrongs committed, promising to improve during the next day; and to pray that God preserve you during sleep. Express all this to God from your mind and from your whole heart.

The essence of morning prayer is to thank God for sleep, rest and regained strength and to pray that He will help us do everything to His glory. Express this to Him with your mind and with your whole heart. Along with such prayers in the morning and evening, present your greatest needs to the Lord, especially spiritual needs. Besides spiritual needs, present your worldly cares, saying to Him as would a child: “See, O Lord, my sickness and weakness! Help and heal!” All this and the like can be spoken before God in your own words, without the use of a prayer book. Try this and, if it works, you may leave the prayer book altogether; but if not, you must pray with the prayer book, otherwise you might end up with no prayer at all.”

– St. Theophan the Recluse (these instructions were to a particular person only, and not to everyone in general – St. Theophan would want that to be said clearly) 

Prayer Rule

“You ask about the prayer rule. Yes, because of our weakness, it is proper to have a prayer rule. For one thing, it controls excessive zeal. The great men of prayer had a prayer rule and kept to it. Every time, they began prayer with the established prayers, and then, if self-initiated prayer came, they turned to it from reciting prayers. If they needed a prayer rule, then we need one even more! Without formal prayers, we would not know how to pray correctly at all. Without them, we would be completely without prayer. Nevertheless, we should not collect too many prayers. A few prayers, correctly read, are better than many prayers raced through. And, of course, it is hard to keep from rushing when, in our eagerness to pray, we have gathered more prayers than we can handle.” – St. Theophan the Recluse

The Prayer Book

“Prayer is learned only by praying. No one can teach another to pray. But a good way to begin to pray is to use the prayers of the prayer book. This is so because, since “we do not know how to pray”, the Holy Spirit reveals in the prayers of [the Son and] the saints the proper form and content of prayer. In the prayers of the books – especially the Lord’s Prayer – we not only pray truly by putting ourselves into the words of the prayers, but we also learn what we must pray.” – Fr. Thomas Hopko

How to Pray the Prayerbook

“Praying does not mean repeating a certain number of words of prayer; praying is reproducing the contents of the prayers within ourselves, so that they flow as if from our own mind and heart.” – St. Theophan  the Recluse

Only one kind of prayer

“Every prayer must come from the heart, and any other prayer is no prayer at all. Prayer-book prayers, your own prayers, and very short prayers, all must issue forth from the heart to God, seen before you. And still more must this be so with the Jesus prayer.” – The Art of Prayer, by Hegumen Chariton of Valaam

The Test of Everything

“Prayer is the test of everything; prayer is also the source of everything; prayer is the driving force of everything; prayer is also the director of everything. If prayer is right, everything is right. For prayer will not allow anything to go wrong.” – St. Theophan the Recluse

Renewing Baptism, praying for the Gift of Tears

“..give thanks to Him, especially those who have received from Him the power to renew their holy baptism through repentance, because without repentance no one can be saved.” – St Peter of Damaskos


“First pray for the gift of tears, so that through sorrowing you may tame what is savage in your soul. And having confessed transgressions to the Lord, you will obtain forgiveness from Him.” – St. Evagrios the Solitary

Do not fear the battle

“Our whole soul should have at every moment a clear eye, able to watch and notice the thoughts entering our heart from the evil one and repel them. The heart must be always burning with faith, humility and love. Do not fear the conflict, and do not flee from it; where there is no struggle, there is no virtue.”  – St. Symeon the New Theologian

Begin Again

“When praying to God, start as  if you had never prayed before.” – St. Theophan the Recluse

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