Treatise on Prayer

Venerable Anthony of the Kiev Far Caves

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

(Saint Paisios the Great)

Lord Jesus Christ my God, today grant me a good day without sin and vain distractions. Lord, do not abandon me. Lord, do not turn away from me. Lord, extend to me a hand of assistance. Lord, support me in the fear of You. Let this fear of You but also Your love be implanted deeply into my heart. Lord, grant compunction and humility to my heart. Lord, grant me constant tears and contrition and the remembrance of death. Lord, deliver me from every temptation of the spirit and of the body. Lord, uproot from me negligence, laziness, sorrow, forgetfulness, insensitivity, callousness and the surrender to captivity of my mind. Lord, as You know and as You want, have mercy on me and forgive all of my transgressions. Lord, having attained peace through a good repentance and a ready and full confession, I hope that You will permit my lamentable soul, in due time, to make its exodus from this body in pure and perfect faith. Amen.


Saint Neilos the Ascetic On Prayer

"Prayer is the conversation of the mind with God. Moses, who attempted to approach the burning bush on earth, was prevented until he had removed the sandals from this feet; how do you expect to see and to become conversant with the One Who is above every perception and every thought, if you do not remove from yourself every passionate thought? First of all pray for the reception of tears; for through contrition and grief the wildness which co-exists in your soul may be softened, and having confessed to the Lord your transgressions, you may receive forgiveness from Him."


By Saint Symeon of Thessalonike (Source: Treatise on Prayer)

This discourse concerning prayer is the most important, brethren, for truly this is the task entrusted to us by God, and the crown of all else. Prayer is conversation directly with God, being always with God, having one's soul united with Him and one's mind inseparable, as David says: "My soul clings to You," (Psalm 62:9); and "My soul thirsts for You" (Psalm 62:3); "As the deer longs for the springs of water, so my soul longs for You, O God" (Psalm 121:1); "I will love You, O God my strength" (Psalm 16:2); and "My soul is always in Your hands" (Psalm 118. 109). Furthermore, he says: "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise will always be in my mouth" (Psalms 33:2). He becomes one with the Angels, unites with them in positive praise and longing: "Praise the Lord from the heavens," praise Him, all you powers" (Psalm 148:1). Not that He exhorts them as though they did not praise Him, but rather as having the same task and perpetual longing for God, He exhorts them and unites Himself with them.

This is the reason why David, that good and angelic hymn writer, calls the whole world to the praise of God, manifesting that saving revelation and ceaseless doxology and knowledge of the Trinity which the nations have obtained through this: "Praise the Lord, all you nations: praise Him, all you peoples" (Psalm 116:1-2). We are taught that there is unceasing praise of God by the Angels--by Isaiah, who saw the glory of God and the Angels singing the Trisagion ceaselessly, and by Ezekiel also.

This is primarily the task of the first orders of Angels, i.e., the Seraphim and the Cherubim. The first group of these praise fervently, and so are called fiery and zealous, and these are the Seraphim. The other group excels in the depth of its knowledge and praise, and this characterizes them as Cherubim. They are many-eyed because of their excellent, ceaseless, perceptive contemplation and praise. Similarly, there are amongst us zealous holy men, fired with love and fervor and zealous prayer, as it is written: "My heart burned within me, and in my studying it will burn with fire" (Psalm 38:5), and "Did not our hearts burn within us?" (St. Luke 24:32). Furthermore: "Who will separate us from the love of Christ?" (Romans 8:35), and "For they persevere in prayer, made fervent by the Spirit and serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11-12). And many among us have abundance of divine knowledge and pour forth longing for the Divine like a mighty stream: "Grace is poured upon your lips" (Psalm 44:3), and "You enlarge my understanding" (Psalm 118:77). Their eyes are totally fixed on God, as it is written: "My eyes are ever toward the Lord" (Psalm 24:15), and "I keep the Lord always before me" (Psalm 15:8). They, being pure of heart, see the Lord...

You see that all give honor to God, and with the Angels they hymn above all perpetually. This is why the preacher of the divine, Paul the angelic, seraphic one, who ascended into the third heaven, tells us: "pray without ceasing" (1 Thes. 5:17). This he teaches not of himself, but as having received it from the Lord of All: "But watch at all times, praying" ...says the Savior (Mt. 26:41). "Stand with your loins girded and your lamps lighted, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage-feast, so that they may open to him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).

Concerning inner prayer, guarding the temple and unceasing prayer, we have been taught: "Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when He comes" (Mt. 24:46), referring to the benefits of watchfulness and prayer, that he will set them above all creatures, showing them as gods, heavenly beings, shining brighter than the sun, that he will serve them. As it is written, "He will gird himself and seat them at table, and he will come and serve them" (Lk 12:37), i.e., he will share with them everything that he has. You see what benefits God gives to those who pray with watchfulness and penitence--may He make us worthy of these things waking and praying always, as we have been taught.



The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you. Amen.

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George