"Prayer Without Ceasing"

St. Raphael the Bishop of Brooklyn

St. Raphael the Bishop of Brooklyn

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


By Saint Gregory Palamas

Let no one think, my brethren Christians, that it is the duty only of priests and monks to pray without ceasing, and not of laymen. No, no; it is the duty of all of us Christians to remain always in prayer.

Saint Gregory the Theologian teaches all Christians to say God's name in prayer more often than to breathe. So, my Christian brethren. I too implore you, together also with Saint John Chrysostom, for the sake of saving your souls, do not neglect the practice of this prayer. Imitate those I have mentioned and follow in their footsteps as far as you can.

At first, it may appear very difficult to you, but be assured, as it were from Almighty God, that this very Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, constantly invoked by you, will help you to overcome all difficulties, and the course of time you will become used to this practice and will taste how sweet is the name of the Lord. Then you will learn by experience that this practice is not impossible and not difficult, but both possible and easy. This is why Saint Paul, who knew better than we the great good which such prayer would bring, commanded us to pray without ceasing. He would not have imposed this obligation upon us if it were extremely difficult and impossible, for he knew beforehand that in such case, having no possibility of fulfilling it, we would inevitably prove to be disobedient and would transgress his commandment, thus incurring blame and condemnation. The holy Apostle could have had no such intention.

Moreover, bear in mind the method of prayer--how it is possible to pray without ceasing, namely by praying in the mind. And this we can always do if we so wish.  For when we sit down to work with our hands, when we walk, when we eat, when we drink we can always pray mentally and practice this mental prayer--the true prayer pleasing to God. Let us work with the body and pray with our soul. Let our outer man perform his bodily tasks, and let the inner man be entirely dedicated to the service of God, never abandoning this spiritual prayer, as Jesus, God, and Man, commanded us, saying" "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to Thy Father which is in secret" (St. Matthew 6:6).

The closet of the soul is the body; our doors are the five bodily senses. The soul enters its closet when the mind does not wander here and there, roaming among things and affairs of the world, but stays within, in our heart. Our senses become closed and remain closed when we do not let them be attached to external sensory things and in this way, our mind remains free from every worldly attachment, and by secret mental prayer unites with God its Father. "And thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly," adds the Lord. God Who knows all secret things sees mental prayer and rewards it openly with great gifts. For that prayer is true and perfect which fills the soul with Divine Grace and spiritual gifts. As chrism perfumes the jar the more strongly the tighter it is closed, so prayer, the more fast it is imprisoned in the heart, abounds the more in Divine Grace.  

Blessed are those who acquire the habit of this heavenly practice, for by it they overcome every temptation of the evil demons, as David overcame the proud Goliath. It extinguished the unruly lusts of the flesh, as the three men extinguished the flames of the furnace. This practice of inner prayer tames passions as Daniel tamed the wild beasts. By it the dew of the Holy Spirit is brought down upon the heart, as Elijah brought down rain on Mount Carmel. This mental prayer reaches to the very Throne of God and is preserved in golden vials, sending forth their odors before the Lord, as Saint John the Divine saw in the Revelation, "Four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of the Saints" (Revelation 5:8).

This mental prayer is the light which illumines man's soul and inflames his heart with the fire of love of God. It is the chain linking God with man and man with God. Oh, the incomparable blessing of mental prayer! It allows a man constantly to converse with God. Oh truly wonderful and more than wonderful--to be with one's body among men while in one's mind conversing with God. Angels have no physical voice, but mentally never cease to sing glory to God. This is their sole occupation and all their life is dedicated to this.

Finally, my brother and sister, whoever you may be, when you take up this book and, having read it, wish to test in practice the profit which mental prayer brings to the soul, I beg you, when you begin to pray thus, pray God with one invocation, Lord have mercy (Kyrie Eleison), for the soul of him who has worked on compiling this book and of him who helped to give it to the public. For they have great need of your prayer to receive God's mercy for their soul, as you for yours. May it be so! (Amen)! May it be so! (Amen).(Source: Orthodox Heritage)


"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" -- Saint John Chrysostomos


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

+Father George