St John the Solitary: Are You Assiduous in Prayer Before God?

Feast of St Menas of Egypt

Desert_Hermits_Square_3.jpegWHEN YOU stand in prayer before God, take care that your mind is recollected. Push aside any distracting thoughts. Feel in your soul the true weightiness of God. Purify the movements of your thoughts; if you have to struggle with them, be persistent in your struggle and do not give up. When God sees your persistence, then all of a sudden grace will dawn in you, and your mind will find strength as your heart burns with fervor and your soul’s thoughts shine out. It may even be that wonderful intuitions of God’s majesty will burst forth in you: this comes as a result of such supplication and luminous understanding; for just as we do not put choice perfumes in a foul-smelling container, neither does God stir up intuitions of His true majesty in minds that are still ugly.

At the beginning of your prayer have it in mind to say in God’s presence, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord Almighty, with whose glory both heaven and earth are filled” (cf. Is. 6.3). Then be mindful of whatever is appropriate in your prayer, which should always include remembering God’s Church, petitions for the weak and afflicted, entreaty for those who have gone astray, compassion for sinners, forgiveness of those who have done wrong.

Make supplication before God that in the thoughts of your soul you may continuously say the following: “O God, make me worthy in your grace of that greatness which you will give in the world to come in return for labors, and may your justice not judge me on the great day of your coming. O God, in your compassion make me worthy of true knowledge of you, and of participation in your perfect love.” And when you have come to the end of your supplication, seal your prayer with that prayer which Christ our Lord gave to His disciples. Be assiduous in all this, meditate on it, and thereby you will be able to make prayers before God and men.

—St John the Solitary, Letter to Hesychius

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