Having finished all the rules, I just wanted to add a few finishing remarks…
- Just a beginner’s guide: the instructions I gave here are generally aimed at beginners in prayer and are simply to guide one to more effective prayer. It is not impossible to find someone who makes progress in prayer who doesn’t adhere strictly to every single factor or who instead practices them to some modified extent. However, some of these factors are certainly incontestable to all degrees such as struggling to control your thoughts.
- Varies per person: they would differ per individual according to their spiritual level and physical strength. For example someone excelled in prayer would probably do more prostrations or might have their own customized way of prayer apart from the prayer book. Another example is that those are physically weak, sick or old would obviously not be able to do many prostrations or stand for too long. Perhaps they can kneel instead.
- Spiritual guide: when someone decides to improve their physical fitness, the safest way to do so is by getting themselves a personal trainer. So too I urge you to confer carefully with a very wise spiritual guide (maybe your confession father or not) when you are implementing these things and expose to them everything that you do. We don’t need a saintly person or even a confession father who has read these things.
We just need someone who we can trust and who can discerningly identify anytime we go overboard with application and we stubbornly persist on a dangerous path. Usually this is extremely clear to external observers, whilst the actual victim is pitifully very blind to it. And this is regardless of how cautious and intelligent they may be.
- Spiritual growth is very gradual: if an over-weight person begins to exercise for the first time on the treadmill at a high speed, they will certainly harm themselves. Instead that person must begin at a very low speed according to their level, and make only very small increases over a series of months.
This is the same spiritually for those who are babies in prayer and are spiritually over-weight by their sins. Spiritual growth is as gradual and imperceptible as physical change occurs in our appearance over the course of a year.
The instructions I gave are incredibly brief, and thus I heartily recommend you read more. The majority of what I wrote is adapted from this short collection of a few letters written by St Theophan the Recluse.
For an excellent starter book on Orthodox spiritual life, I highly recommend “The arena” written by St Ignatius Brianchannnov for the following reasons…
- It is quite superior to other works because it is written in extremely simple language and it is filled with very warm, practical stories. Additionally, it is written in a snappy manner with minimal waffling. Hence it’s quite a choice pick for us very busy modern-day people.
- I know someone whose life was transformed by first reading this one spiritual book. And now she is forevermore not a lukewarm soul.
- A friend of mine, who I know for a fact wouldn’t miss a day of prayer, and who has read more spiritual literature then anyone I know, confesses that this is one of his top 5 books. I would probably say the same for me too.
The book may be found in your local bookshop or here on amazon as kindle or hard-copy. Simply read when it is most convenient such as on your daily commute or during meal time. Or read for 10 – 15 mins before going to bed.
Discussion: What drives your prayer life the most?