An old man used to say, “Spread abroad the Name of Jesus in humility, and with a meek heart; show your feebleness before Him, and He will become strength unto you.”
The old man (Abba Muthues) used to say, “Who sold Joseph?” They said unto him, “His brethren” and the old man said unto them, “No, it was humility that sold him. For he never said, ‘I am your brother’, and he never answered them, but held his peace. He sold himself by his humility, and this humility made him governor over the land of Egypt.”
Although prayer is a spiritual sense implanted in man’s soul, in the very core of its self-consciousness, many people never pray. Prayer thus remains dormant for a whole lifetime. A man may die without ever having been aware of the self or of its affinity to God. St. Jude the Apostle described such souls as “wandering stars for whom the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved for ever” (Jude 1.13).
This is a very serious matter. Prayer is not merely a sense to be used to organise our lives in this age alone. It is implanted in our nature that, through it, we may ascend to God and achieve union with him. We may thus pass from this fleeting perishable life to an eternal life with God.
It seems as if we were created for prayer. Prayer is the only bond that links us to God. It stands before our hearts as the eternal life, which is our hope. Prayer is the condition in which we discover our own divine image, on which the stamp of the Holy Trinity is impressed. When we lose prayer, we actually lose the glory of our image, and we no longer resemble God in any way. God draws us to himself through prayer, and through prayer we mysteriously travel toward him in a manner too deep to understand. In fact, through prayer we draw God to ourselves, and he comes to us and makes his home with us.
To God, love is not an emotion but a self-offering. In prayer, God offers us himself. God offered himself when he created us in his own image. Through prayer, he offers us union with himself so that he may become totally ours, and we may become totally his.
Prayer opens up our lives towards God: “In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them” (Is 63.9). Prayer also opens up God’s life to us: “The Spirit himself intercedes for us [during prayer] with sighs too deep for words” (Rom 8.26).
[Fr. Matta El-Meskeen, Orthodox Prayer Life]
On one occasion Abba Moses of Patara was engaged in a war against fornication, and he could not endure being in his cell, and he went and informed Abba Isidore of it; and the old man entreated him to return to his cell, but he would not agree. And having said, “Father I cannot bear it,” the old man took him up to the roof of his cell and said unto him, “Look to the west,” and when he looked he saw multitudes of devils with troubled and terrified aspects and they showed themselves in the forms of phantoms with fighting attitudes. Abba Isidore said to him, “Look to the east,” and when he looked he saw innumerable holy angels standing there, and they were in a state of great glory.
Then Abba Isidore said unto him, “Behold those who are in the west are those who are fighting with the holy ones; and those whom you have seen in the east are those who are sent by God to the help of the saints, for those who are with us are many.” And having seen these, Abba Moses took courage and returned to his cell without fear.