Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pray Simply

How should we pray? Should we pray? Are we worthy to pray? These are some of the many questions I hear asked by many people today. However, reading the Church Fathers and the sayings of Saints, we can find many answers to our modern questions, showing how the questions and answers given are diachronical and not ephemera. Here, St. Makarii of Optino explains:

“Pray simply. Do not expect to find in your heart any remarkable gift of prayer. Consider yourself unworthy of it. Then you will find peace. Use the empty, cold dryness of your prayer as food for your humility. Repeat constantly: I am not worthy, Lord, I am not worthy! But say it calmly, without agitation. This humble prayer will be acceptable to God.
When practicing the Jesus Prayer, remember that the most important thing of all is humility; then the ability-not the decision only-always to maintain a keen sense of responsibility towards God, towards one’s spiritual director, men, and even things. Remember, too, that Isaac the Syrian warns us that God’s wrath visits all who refuse the bitter cross of agony, the cross of active suffering, and who, striving after visions and special graces of prayer, waywardly seek to appropriate the glories of the Cross. He also says, ‘God’s grace comes to itself, suddenly, without our seeing it approach. It comes when the place is clean’. Therefore, carefully, diligently, constantly clean the place; sweep it with the broom of humility”[1]. 

[1] St. Makarii of Optino, in Iulia de Beausobre, Macarius, Starets of Optino: Russian Letters of Direction 1834-1860, (London, Dacre Press, 1944), p. 87, 89

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