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On prayer

So that people did not remain unconcerned and placed all their hopes on outside prayers of help, the Starets used to repeat an ordinary Russian saying: "God help me, but you yourself peasant don’t lie idly."

One nun said: "Batushka! Through whom do we ask for prayerful help if not through you?" Starets replied: "And you yourself ask for it! You recall, when the 12 Apostles beseeched our Saviour on behalf of a Canaanite woman, He did not hear them. But when she started to entreat herself, she did receive."

Because prayer is the most powerful weapon against the invisible foe, he tries in various ways to distract people from it. Starets related the following story: "A monk at Mt. Athos had a much-loved, talking starling that used to entertain him with his chatter. But here was a strange thing – no sooner than the monk commenced to fulfil his rule of prayer, the starling would commence talking non-stop, not allowing the monk to pray. Once, on the bright Holy Day of the Resurrection of Christ, the monk came up to the cage and said: "Starling, Christ has risen!" And the starling replied: "That is the woe to us that He did," and immediately perished, filling the cell with unbearable stench. Thereupon the monk realised his error and repented."

Starets said that the most important thing that God looks at is the internal disposition of a person’s soul: "Once, Abbot Anthony was visited by a man with ailing legs who said: "Batushka, my legs are aching and I am disturbed that I cannot bow to the ground." Fr. Anthony replied: "Well it is said in the Scripture: "Son, give me your heart," and it doesn’t say – "legs."

One nun told Starets that she saw the icon of Mother of God and heard Her say: "What did you bring as an offering?" She responded: "What will I bring, I have nothing." Then Batushka said: "It is written in the Psalms: "Whoever offers praise glorifies me."

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