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Prayer and Feelings

“All kinds of things are going on invisibly within us when we pray, though outwardly nothing has changed and we feel only the same. Although you mean everything to God, and He welcomes your urgent cries, sometimes He may be arranging things with your long-term interest in mind.” (Timothy G. Patitsas)

“In order to become receptive to the healing light of our Lord, we must persistently open the darkened eyes of our souls to Him. Instead of trying to judge ourselves by how we feel during prayer, how many prayers we say, or how long we stand before our icons, let us simply open our hearts to Him as best we can as we focus our minds on the words of the Jesus Prayer, the Trisagion Prayers, the Psalms, or whatever simple order of prayer we are using. Short prayers with focus and humility are better than long ones with distraction and pride. Even the shortest rule of prayer said consistently is better for the soul than a more elaborate one rarely used. If we want healing from the blindness and anxiety of entrusting ourselves to the things of this world, we must ground our life in prayer from the depths of our hearts.” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“…if you do not feel like praying, you have to force yourself…the Holy Fathers said that prayer with force is higher than prayer unforced…You do not want to force yourself?...The Kingdom of Heaven is taken by force” (Matt. 11:12).” (St. Ambrose of Optina, Fr. Basil)

“The praying person is continually beset by a stream of inappropriate thoughts, feelings and mental impressions. To stop this tiresome stream is as impracticable as to stop the air from circulating in an open room. But one can notice them or not. This, say the saints, one learns only through practice.” (Tito Colliander)

“Part of our difficulty with prayer, the dissatisfaction we feel, is that often we are doing all the talking. We offer God whatever is on our mind—our concerns, anxieties, hopes, dreams. . . and then when we’re done, it’s finished—done. The prayer effectively ends the moment we finish our last word. We move on to everyday life without the vaguest hint that our prayer could extend into the next moment, and the next, as smoothly as life unfolds each day, from one silence to the next. Jesus was not just voicing hyperbole when He told the disciples ‘to pray always and not lose heart’ (Luke 18:1). He wasn’t speaking about always ‘saying’ prayers here –His own life never reflected that; He was speaking about living in a state of perpetual prayerfulness, of steadfast faith, an inner climate whose intention is always oriented to God. This is dwelling in pure faith, without any conditions or strings attached, and it is the surest way to God. If we listen to the tradition, to its challenge of unceasing prayer, and work at it consciously, our prayer will increasingly take on this reality; indeed, it must if we are to experience it as a dynamic relationship through which we come truly alive, alive in the fullest sense of the word.” (Brother Christopher)


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