Letters to Spiritual Children, Part XII

… Concerning the spiritual life, I don’t think I need to write to you. The most important thing demanded of you is to try with all your strength to preserve peace with your household and if you get upset then ask forgiveness and grant forgiveness as soon as possible. The enemy will try to take away peace and not let you ask forgiveness. Don’t listen to him. Conquer him, calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for help; i.e., say the Jesus prayer, until you conquer irritation or anger or remembrance of wrongs. Do not back down from the Lord until He forgives you and until He gives peace to your soul. The sign of the Lord’s forgiveness is peace in the soul.

So try not to be irritated and get angry, and if you sin in that way ask forgiveness of your neighbors and of the Lord. And try to listen to the morning and evening prayers; if you pray alone then pray for not less than fifteen minutes saying the prayers which you know and the Jesus prayer, but say them with reverence, the fear of God, and a broken heart. As for absent-minded prayer, it is not prayer, although the Lord accepts it, at first, for those who are still learning to pray. But we have to, after all, learn sometime how to pray without absent-mindedness!

If you will abstain from anger and preserve peace then your prayer will be good but if you are absent-minded and in discord then you cannot pray.

The Lord doesn’t accept prayer from an angry person and gives such a person to the merciless attendants, i.e., the demons who drive them out from the spiritual feast, from prayer, from the wedding feast into the darkness of various idle, sometimes even bad, thoughts. And this will be until we humble ourselves and weep before the Lord with all our heart and acquire spiritual peace, for it is said that in peace (spiritual) is the place of God. Where there is discord there is the enemy and darkness, heaviness of soul and other rudiments of hell.

Humility possesses the power to bring the thoughts into remembrance of God but discord, vanity, and pride scatter the thoughts. If the thoughts are greatly scattered it means that something is wrong in the soul which means that the enemy has received access to our soul and we need to repent before God and beg for forgiveness and help. We need to seek for the reason for this. Sometime this happens (if not from anger) from excessive restlessness, attachment to the world, long worldly conversations, or the judgment of neighbors. Good, attentive, prayer coming from the heart is the way into the Kingdom of God, which is inside us. If there is no such prayer it means that we have in some way provoked the Lord into anger.

Be attentive to yourself. Preserve peace, be reconciled quickly, more often (according to the commandments it is necessary all the time) call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, pour out before the Lord your transgressions and sorrows, act according to your conscience and you will feel well and save yourself. No pain, no gain.*[note]
Labor in God and be saved. It will be well here and after death you will enter into eternal blessedness. Pray for me.

Your loving father.

[note: A proverb in Russian, lit.: Without labor, you can’t even make a bast shoe.]

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