Thursday, August 09, 2007

Christ is in our Midst X(letter 8)

"Do not be frightened about your lack of devotion in prayer: it is a good and saving thing that you force yourself to pray; look at the Ladder 1, 28:29. ['Do not say, after spending a long time at prayer, that nothing has been gained; for you have already gained something. And what higher good is there than to cling to the Lord and persevere in unceasing union with him?']

Do not imagine God to be very severe. He is very gracious and knows our human weaknesses. we must reverently venerate the Holy Fathers, for they are specially chosen by God, but if it troubles you that we are unable to imitate them, see what the Ladder1 26:125 says. ['The man who despairs of himself when he hears of the supernatural virtues of the saints is most unreasonable. On the contrary, they teach you supremely one of two things: either they rouse you to emulation by their holy courage, or they lead you by way of thrice-holy humility to deep self-knowledge and realization of your inherent weakness.']"

1St. John Climacus

I know that I constantly battle this feeling or temptation, that I'm not good in prayer, I lack devotion. I also doubt whether any good comes of disciplined prayer over time and I tend to have to battle discouragement that "nothing seems to be happening".

Reading something like the above as well as sound advice from my spiritual father to persevere and continue to pray encourages me. I "break through" walls of apathy and boredom into new vistas. The change that I have observed since making a determined effort(with varying degrees of constancy-sometimes I keep my prayer rule for long stretches of time. Usually what causes me to fall from this prayer rule is pride. I begin to notice I have gone a long stretch without breaking my rule and I begin to casually mention my feat to others. I'm in trouble now, I've come to find out.)

Keeping a prayer rule I believe, has nothing to do with how I feel but everything to do with what I do. It is not my place to determine what, if any, blessing or spiritual stature I should obtain for this work. And yes, work it is to pray. Inconvenient, trudging, monotonous, boring, "What's she doing?", "The game's on-who's winning?", and so on.

Our Holy Church guides us to prayer. Me is what hinders me. Actions come first. Feelings and thoughts will follow, only of course should the Lord send them. We should more closely imitate the unprofitable servants in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 17, verse 10:

So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'"

Read the previous post in this series:

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