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Prayer (Difficulties and Challenges of)

“Prayer, fasting, and vigilance over ourselves, i.e., carefully watching our thoughts and feelings, make us victors over the enemies of our salvation. The most difficult of these three works is prayer—an everlasting virtue which will become a habit if we practice it. But prayer, until our very death, will require coercion on our part, a constant struggle.” (St. Barsanuphius of Optina)

Many people seem to find prayer a difficult thing to do, but when questioned, it often becomes clear that they are not actually praying. What they mean is they find it difficult to start praying. This is because we have sunk deep into the world, like a mud pool up to our necks (and sometimes over our heads). We have given so much of our attention and effort to the world and our bodily desires, that prayer can at first seem alien to the state we have entered." (Father Spyridon Baily)

“It seems clear that too often what destroys our relationship with God and makes us avoid disciplined, regular prayer are a lack of openness during such periods and a predetermined idea of how God should respond to us during our quiet time (which only leads to discouragement when prayer doesn't turn out as we would have it).” (Robert J. Wicks)

"But prayer can be difficult, and if we rely on emotional states to sustain our prayer then it will fail us at the very time we need it. If we only pray when we feel moved, it will be at the times when we are emotionally and psychologically exhausted that we will need prayer, but we will be unable to find or summon up the necessary emotions. Prayer must be a regular part of our day, something we do without question." (Father Spyridon Baily)

“Prayer requires a completely carefree life, for even the slightest worry disrupts our prayer…Just as the slightest speck of dust can blur our vision, so, too, does the slightest worry interfere with our concentration in prayer…When we are praying, the first thing that’s needed is attentiveness. Without attentiveness prayer is not worthwhile, but if one neglects prayer completely, that is the worst. You have to work!” (Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica)

"Today let me remember that prayer, as Christ sees it, is a loving discipline. I need not be overwhelmed by prayer, because my God is not a God Who demands words, and more words, for His “satisfaction.” Through prayerful communion with Him, He teaches me to explore and know my heart, which He knows already." (Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin)

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