Author: Mother Erini
How did all the saintly fathers reach holiness? They worked hard and struggled. They went through many wars in their lives and suffered a lot, but they were armed and strengthened by the power of prayer. When one loves God from all one’s heart and prays deeply, their spirit gets very strong and overcomes the body.
Prayer is everything in our life, with the power of God and prayer we can do everything. Truly, we read books to be able to pray. Of course reading helps us to focus our mind and makes us ready for prayer, but when we sit with God while praying with a contrite heart, we gain many blessings: endurance, love and discernment. Prayer provides us with humility, joy and peace. Sometimes God gives us undeserved gifts and rewards, He gives them to us to encourage and attracts us to His love and to make us know Him. Many of God’s children won divine power through prayer.
I wish we would seize any chance to pray. Who can ever sit with God without feeling happy? Can we ever sit with Him without rejoicing regardless of any condition? We can pray while working. We can talk with God, and this talk is prayer. So when we stand to pray the psalms, our prayer will be colored by profundity, humility, contrition and great love. And we will, one way or the other, taste the different levels of grace given by God.
No one can teach anyone how to pray; it is something to be felt. When we sit with God and talk with Him from the depth of our hearts, we will benefit and learn true prayer. God Himself teaches us prayers; He consoles us on every occasions and answers us. He teaches us how to converse with Him when in pain. Every time we sit with God, we come out with a new experience.
When we pray, we should try to contemplate the words we are saying. Sometimes – especially – when we pray in an improvised way – we can find ourselves saying something other than what we think about. This is because God Himself teaches us prayer.
If we feel bored or do not feel like praying and if we say let us sleep and rest for just five minutes, we will immediately sleep and never pray because the devil makes us lazy. But one can sing a carol or a hymn, or read a chapter from the bible with which to get ready for prayer and to encourage oneself. We can say, “Our Lady, the Virgin, strengthen me to talk with your Beloved Son. Help me to be able to pray.” I can also say to Him, “God help me”. And God will immediately respond and say, “Come to me” and you will come out with a new and beautiful experience.
Consolation will not be gained except through toil; when we work hard, endure and persevere with patience, we will receive consolation that makes us forget our fatigue and pain. The life of the saints is all about patience, perseverance, pains and comforts. Receiving consolation used to encourage them to continue treading this road. It is not important to see visions. It is enough when one prays with tears and contrition to feel inner joy and peace. Isn’t this consolation? The bible says, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
In general when we start praying and feel unable to pray, we have to force ourselves and say to God, “We want no one but You, You are the One who consoles us and brings joy to our hearts.” We should keep talking to Him. Eventually, God will give us grace with which we can pray.
Ref: Tamav Erene: A monastic life kindled with love at the feet of Christ (book 3), p. 92-3