So, the essence of the prayer consists in
attentively addressing God and appealing to Him with a warm heartfelt feeling
—whether you are expressing your gratitude, repentance or something else in
your prayer. If there is no such feeling, then there is no real prayer.
In order to learn praying, pray more often and
with more zeal and you will learn it: you would not need anything else. If you
work hard and patiently, you will acquire the skill of unceasing prayer with
time. Make it your goal — to seek and do seek. The Lord is close to you. Keep
God always in your mind and always try to see the Lord before you and to
When interfering thoughts come to your mind during
praying — drive them away, if they persist — banish them again...and be that
way in everything. This is a deed of sobriety. Exert yourself to keep your
heart in a religious spirit. When your heart is overcome with a feeling, vain
thoughts do not bother it.
We began writing with the effort to write and the
wish to do the work properly. In the same way we have to learn praying through
effort and persistence. A prayer will not come by itself, you have to learn it
like rubbing your soul would warm it up. When the warmth comes, your thoughts
would calm down, and your prayer will become cleansed. Everything comes through
God’s grace. That is why we have to pray to the Lord for Him to grant us the
As far as the praying rule is concerned, you can
choose any of them as long as you are keeping your soul in reverence to God.
It would be good to get used to appeal to God with
short prayers during the day. The main prayer out of all of them is the Jesus
prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."
Learn 24 prayers of John Chrysostom and pray to God with them. Using short
prayers concentrates your attention and reviews all your spiritual needs.
Do not forget that the strength of the prayer is
the "contrite spirit," that is the state when your heart is filled
with repentance and humbleness. Commend yourselves into the hands of God and He
would never leave you. While praying you should not try to visualize God or Theotokos,
or the saints, or angels, or any other visions, but just pray being sure that
God and the saints hear your prayer. How can they hear it? — What use in
discussing that? They just hear it — that’s all. If you start creating various
images in your mind, there appears the danger of praying to some fantasy. How
can we visualize something that we have never seen? And also the state in which
the saints find themselves in that other world is so different from anything
familiar to us that all our visualizations are doomed to turn out fraudulent
and false. That is why we should get accustomed to saying a prayer without
creating any images in our minds.