Prayer and deed

A monk went to one of the elders in the Lavra located above Jericho and asked him:

“How are you living, father?”

“Badly”, answered the old man.

The other monk asked him: “Why are you living badly, father?”

And the elder said: “See, I’ve been standing before God for thirty years and I’ve been praying every day and in my prayer I sometimes cursed myself saying to God: Don’t have mercy on those who make wrongdoings and cursed are those who wander from your commandments and I always deviate from them and I make wrongdoings. Other times I say to God: You will condemn to perdition all those who lie and I always lie and thinking evil things in my heart, I say to God that my thoughts are always before You and not fasting at all, I say: my knees give way from fasting. And if I don’t forgive my brother I say to God: Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins! And being preoccupied only about my food, I say: I forget to eat my bread. And sleeping till the morning, I say: I wake at midnight to pray to You. Having no humility I say: I am tired of crying inside myself or my tears have been my food day and night. And being full of pride and idleness, I ridicule myself and say: See my humility and my toil and forgive my sins! Not being prepared I say: my heart is ready, oh, Lord! In brief, all my prayers become a reproach and a reason to feel ashamed.”

The other monk said: “I think, father, that David said this about himself.”

 And the elder sighed and said: “What are you saying, brother?” “If we don’t keep the words we say before God, we shall go to perdition.”