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Prayer (and Focus)

“We can sit down and say the Jesus Prayer for hours every night, but if our mind is wandering all over the place, there is no profit in that. The purpose of a prayer rule is to offer God our attention morning and evening, to focus on Him.” (Gerontissa Philareti)

“Prayer is not a technique or a trick…prayer must involve the mind and the heart. It is not a matter of repeating many words, Jesus warned us of this error. When we pray we should try to focus on the words we speak, let their meaning fill our heart and mind so that we are uttering them with our whole self.” (Father Spyridon Baily)

“The beginnings of prayer do not reside in a method, in a specific style or form of practice. They are a cry of the heart, a longing of the soul. If you have discovered this longing within yourself, even if its precise shape or source or focus remains un-known to you, then you have within you the seeds from which prayer can grow. But these seeds must be fostered, watered!” (Bishop Irenei Steenberg)

“When we find ourselves struggling with prayer, and feel that it has become dry and lifeless, we are sometimes tempted to stop praying. When our prayer has become a struggle, it is good to remember that God knows our needs, and even knows what we want to say when we don’t seem to know. This is the time we need to just pray without worrying about it. When we find we can’t keep our minds focused…it is perfectly acceptable to…sit quietly…and let silence be our voice.” (Abbot Tryphon)

“When we ask for help from someone who we know can help us, we turn to him earnestly and, with our whole being, beg him, “Please do this for me. I know you can do it.” This means that we are convinced that he can help us, and so we ask him for help. But we often pray to God without attention, mechanically, and we consider that to be prayer, when actually our minds and hearts are not present. Our minds are elsewhere, or we are planning to do something and our thoughts are occupied with it, or our minds dwell on an insult.... Our minds are focused on many things except for prayer. That is why the Lord has said that God is spirit and that, when we pray, we must pray in spirit and in truth. This means that our spirit must be present when we pray.” (Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica)

“Real prayer is communion with God … What is needed is for Him to fill our hearts with His thoughts, and then His desires will become our desires flowing back to Him…As we pray to God, He shifts our focus from ourselves to Him.” (A. W. Pink, Life Application Study Bible, Psalms 77:1-20)

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