st theophan the recluse
by St. Theophan the Recluse
On Mid-Pentecost we hear the call of the Lord: "Whosoever thirsteth, let him come to Me and drink" (John 7:37). If this is so, then let us all run to Him. Whatever you thirst for - so long as it is not contrary to the spirit of the Lord - you will find relief in Him. If you thirst for knowledge, run to the Lord, for He is the one and only light, enlightening every man. If you thirst for cleansing from sin and quenching of the flames of your conscience, run to the Lord, for He tore asunder the handwriting of our sins upon the Cross. If you thirst for peace in your heart, run to the Lord, for He is the treasury of all good, Whose abundance will teach you to forget all deprivations and despise all earthly good, so as to be filled with Him alone. If you need strength, He is almighty. If you need glory, His glory surpasses the world. If you desire freedom, He gives true freedom. He will resolve all of our doubts, loose the bonds of our passions, dispel all our troubles and difficulties, will enable us to overcome all obstacles, temptations and intrigues of the enemy, and will make smooth the path of our spiritual life. Let us all run to the Lord!
The Apostle now points out to us the hidden man of the heart (I Peter 3:4) as the object of our most painstaking concern and care. We are to adorn ourselves through the formation of this man within ourselves. What is the meaning of the hidden man of the heart? It is that man which forms in the heart when only good dispositions and feelings come to dwell therein. Examine these dispositions and feelings, and you will see the face of the man hidden in the heart. Here are these dispositions: His Divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness (II Peter 1:3), and on your part, giving all diligence, writes St. Peter, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness love (II Peter 1:5-7). In a similar fashion St. Paul lists the inner good dispositions of the Christian heart: The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Gal. 5:22-23). Also: Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, and above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts (Col. 3:12-15). Bring together all of these good things into one spiritual body with its various members, and you will see the divinely beautiful Face of the hidden man of the heart. You must fervently establish the same in your own heart.
by St. Theophan the Recluse
taken from The Art of Prayer: An Orthodox Anthology, p. 51
What is prayer? What is its essence? How can we learn to pray? What does the spirit of the Christian experiences as he prayers in humility in his heart?
All such questions should constantly occupy the mind and heart of the believer, for in prayer man converses with God, he enters, through grace, into communion with Him, and lives in God. And the Holy Father and teachers of the Church gives answers to all these questions, based on the grace-given enlightenment which is acquired through the experience of practicing prayer – experience equally accessible to the simple and to the wise.
Prayer is the test of everything; prayer is also the source of everything; prayer is the drive 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.