In the end the dawn broke. He thought that as long as the beasts went to sleep he could rest. But he was hungry. He wanted to pick some blackberries to eat. He went to a bush but all of a sudden he imagined that all those wild eyes and claws might have been hidden somewhere in the bush. So he resumed his walk very carefully and at every step he said: Lord Jesus Christ save me, help me, help me, save me! Oh, my Lord, help me, protect me! For each berry he picked he prayed many times.
The time passed and after many years he met an experienced hermit who asked him how he learnt to pray without cease.
Maximus said: I think that the devil taught me to pray without cease.
The elder answered: I understand what you mean. But I want to make sure that I understand you well.
Then Maximus explained to him how he had got used little by little with all the noises and dangers of the day and of the night. Then he got carnal temptations, spiritual temptations, temptations of the senses and after that very powerful attacks from the devil. After all this there was no moment during the day or night when he did not cry to God: Save me, save me, help me, help me!
One day after 14 years of ceaseless prayer, he had a vision with God. From that moment on his soul filled with peace and joy. There was no more fear – of darkness, of bushes, of the devil – God reigned in his soul.
Then I learnt that if God doesn’t come I am very helpless. So I continued to pray when I was peaceful and happy, saying: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, help me! – Maximus said. Because only the divine mercy brings peace of heart and mind, bodily health and power of will.
Thus we cannot say that Maximus learnt how to pray in spite of the trouble which overwhelmed him but because of that trouble, since his trouble was a real danger. If we could become aware that we are in a great trouble ourselves, in danger and the devil is lurking us, trying to catch us and destroy us, then we would pray without cease.