Orthodox Byzantine Chants
Holy Mount Athos
Attention and prayer
Archimandrite Epiphanios Teodoropoulos
When you say the Jesus prayer, focus your attention on every word.
Work and prayer
When you work it is allowed and necessary to pray. But when you pray, you must not work!
The proof that the devil exists
Anyone can focus even for hours thinking about a problem or business of concern for him and his attention is not distracted by anything else. More than that, when there were no computing devices, the accountants worked for eight hours without raising their heads and their mind was focused only on that, even if there was a compressor working beside them. It happens the same with the students who are focused on doing their lessons.
But when someone starts praying then all his personal, domestic and professional preoccupations come out and distract him. This is the proof that the devil exists and the prayer burns him and that is why he fights against it.
Prayer should never be missing
“Father, in the evening, when we get back home from the office tired, we don’t feel like praying”, said once a married couple.
But how come you still have a good appetite? If you don’t deprive yourself of food, no matter how tired you’d be, you should not deprive yourselves of the spiritual food or of your connection with God.
Never neglect your prayer. At the table, in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening. And don’t ever neglect for any reason the Compline, no matter how busy and tired you’d be. It is a matter of self sacrifice and especially of love. If someone dear calls you very late at night, then how it happens that despite all your fatigue, you answer the phone and sometimes you talk even for hours without being bothered at all, on the contrary being glad about it?
Urge for prayer
When you said:
“Father, in what regards this matter, things reached the edge.” “I am at the edge of patience.”
You got this answer:
“Prayer, son, there’s a need for much prayer!” “God can either take away your cross or give you strength to carry it till the end.” “And don’t forget: the human limit is par excellence the territory of the work of God, it’s God’s privilege.”
“Do you think that it’s easy for me to pray in the situation I am facing now?” objected once that spiritual son.
The answer was:
“Pray even for being able to pray!”
Persistence in prayer
“How could we progress, father?” “We languish in the same things all the time.”
“My son, you need much prayer and you’ll see progress.” “How else?” “There is no magic wand to touch ourselves with it and get immediately spiritual progress.”
Not only downwards
The starets urged one of his spiritual sons who worked until evening and didn’t go to vigils:
“My son, take a look upwards too.” “Don’t look only downwards and only at the worldly things.” “Look at your soul for a while too.”
“Father I don’t have time”, that one insisted.
Once that young man got ill and his starets went to visit him in hospital. When he saw him lying in bed, he put his forefinger to his temple and said:
“Do you remember what I’ve told you?”
“You were right, father”, that one said.
“Now you look upwards involuntarily”, continued father Epiphanios. “When you recover you should look upwards voluntarily.”