Peering into the brain of the devil: how exactly evil spirits make us lazy

Two killer explanations

During my reading of the writing of the saints, I came across these two very explanatory quotes by two Russian saints. It really shows how the devil messes around with us to forget spiritual struggle and prayer which is our most important duty of all.


I strongly encourage deep thinking about these quotes. Ask questions about different parts. Break them mentally into very simple sentences so each part can have a profound effect upon you. Read them many times and slowly. Save them for later for deeper thinking perhaps during lunch/dinner/commuting. Doing so doubtless will inspire you more to not neglect life-giving prayer.

St Ignatius Brianchanninov

He wrote in his splendid book the Arena…

Prayer acts murderously on our “old man,” the unregenerate self or nature. As long as it is alive in us, it opposes prayer like death. Fallen spirits, knowing the power of prayer and its beneficial effect, endeavor by all possible means to divert us from it, prompting us to use the time assigned to prayer for other occupations; or else they try to annul it and profane it with mundane distractions and sinful inattention, by producing at the time of prayer a countless swarm of earthly thoughts, sinful daydreams and reveries, imaginings and fantasies.

Do you remember the Arena? I recommended it greatly in my last post about essential prayer rules. It is in very simple language, written in a snappy manner and is one of the top books for two very spiritual people I know. Fr Seraphim Rose recommended it too.

St John of Kronstadt

This married priest wrote…

“When you read a worldly magazine or newspaper, it is light and agreeable reading, you easily believe in everything in it. But if you take up a religious publication or book to read, especially one relating to church matters, or sometimes when you begin reading prayers, you feel a weight upon your heart, you are tormented by doubt and unbelief, and experience a sort of darkness and aversion. 

Many acknowledge this. From what does it proceed?  Of course, not from the nature of the books themselves, but from the nature of the readers, from the nature of their hearts, and chiefly from the Devil, the enemy of mankind, the enemy of everything holy: ‘he takes away the word out of their hearts’ (Lk. 8:12).

When we read worldly books, we do not touch him and he does not touch us. But as soon as we take up religious books, as soon as we begin to think of our amendment and salvation, then we go against him; we irritate and torment him, and therefore he attacks us and torments us on his side. 

What can we do? We must not throw aside the good work, the reading or prayers that are profitable to our souls, but we must patiently endure and in patience save our souls.”

Discussion: Which line did you find the most profound?

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