Our every endeavor is powerless without the grace and help
of God. A man can easily become debauched and so destroy himself, but he cannot
correct himself and be saved without God. He can easily live according to the
flesh as a boat floats down a river, but of himself he cannot stand against the
flesh and live spiritually, as a vessel cannot of itself sail against the rush
of the current. It must move either with rowers or with sails in the wind.
So a man must be helped in the spiritual life and
in the work of salvation by a supernatural and all-powerful force. He must be
victorious over his own self; but how can this be without the power of God present,
which is able to do all things? So great is the corruption of our nature.
Up to now, the devil incessantly fights against
man, and endeavors to lead him into sin, and to trap him in his snares. The
temptations of the world surround him and entice him, and evil custom or habit
draws him likewise. Hence we see that many begin to repent and live well, but
are drawn off the good path and corrupted again.
And we cannot begin a good and Christian life,
then, and live as Christians even to the end, without the almighty help of God.
Those who test themselves know all this. For this reason the Lord says, "Without
Me ye can do nothing" (Jn. 15:5). At every hour and minute, then, we
need the help of God. For this reason, O Christian, when you wish to live
piously and be a true
Christian and so be saved, pray to God incessantly
and beg help of Him with fervor. Just as according to His love for man God
commanded us to pray and ask of Him every good thing, He also promised to give
us what we ask for, and most of all what is needful for our salvation.
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and
ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that
asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it
shall be opened" (Mt. 7:7-8). Know,
beloved, that a Christian without prayer is as a bird without wings and as a
warrior without weapons.
Pray fervently, then, to Christ the Lord and give
yourself to Him for direction, and He will correct and guide you to eternal
life and blessedness according to His love for man. Only be careful and watch
yourself, and seeing your care He will help you in everything. Read the
Beatitudes, and the rest, often and with fervor.
The grace of God is the life of
our souls. Our soul cannot be alive without the grace of God. For as our body
lives by the soul, so our soul lives by the grace of God. Pray, then, always
and sigh unto God that He give you His grace, and that He preserve you in it.
We need the grace of God every minute. For this reason, sigh often from the
depths of your heart, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a
right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thine
Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and with Thy
governing Spirit establish me" (LXX-Ps. 50:12-14 [KJV-Ps. 51:10-12).
Whatever task you may begin,
consider whether it is in agreement with conscience and with the Law of God,
and whether it is truly profitable to you. When it is in accordance with the
Law of God, begin and labor. When it is opposed to it, turn away from it lest
you fall into the snare of the enemy who always seeks to catch a man in his
snare. Not everything that seems useful to you is useful, but only that which
is in agreement with healthy reason and the word of God.
At the beginning of every task
call on the name of the Lord your God, and begin it with prayer, that the Lord
may prosper you to begin it and complete it. And from this it is evident that a
Christian ought not to begin anything that is contrary to the Law of God, but
only that which is in agreement with it.
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