What is pray without ceasing?
This hierarch had a beloved friend whose name was Job, a simple man but full of good deeds.
Once they were conversing and the bishop said concerning prayer that all Christians must struggle in prayer always
and must pray constantly just as the Apostle Paul exhorts: pray without ceasing (I Thess.5:l7);
and as the prophet David says of himself [in spite of the fact that he was king and had to take care of his entire kingdom]: I beheld the Lord ever
before me (Ps. 15:8),
i.e. in my mind's eye I always see the Lord before me in my prayer. And St. Gregory the Theologian teaches all Christians and tells them that they
should remember the name of God more often than they breathe.
Having said this and much else to his friend Job, the hierarch added that not only should we, obeying the commands of the saints, ourselves pray
always, but we should teach others to do the same; all, without distinction--monks and laymen, 1earned and simple, men and women, and children--we
should urge to pray without ceasing.
Hearing this, the elderly Job thought this was something new and began to argue,
telling the hierarch that to pray always was the work only of ascetics and monks 'who live outside the world and its cares, and not of laymen who
have so many cares and activities.
The hierarch brought forth more evidence in support of this truth and new irrefutable proofs, but even these, did not convince the elder Job.
Then the holy Gregory, avoiding talkativeness and strife, became silent and they each went to their separate cells.
Afterwards when Job was praying alone in his cell, there appeared to him an angel sent from God, Who desired that all men be saved and come to the
knowledge of the truth (I Tim. 2:4),
and reproached him for arguing with St. Gregory and opposing such an evident matter on which depends the salvation of Christians.
He announced from God Himself that in the future he should take heed and beware of telling to anyone anything contrary to this soul-saving matter and
not resist the will of God, that even in his own mind he should not have any thought opposed to this, not allow himself to think in any way contrary
to that which St. Gregory had said.
Then the simple elder Job hurried to St. Gregory and falling to his feet asked his forgiveness for his opposition and strife and disclosed to him all
that the angel of the Lord had said.
Now you see, my brethren, how all Christians, from the least to the greatest, must always pray within their hearts:
"Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!"
in such a way that their mind and heart would always be in the habit of pronouncing these holy words.
Be assured how pleasing this is to God and how much good comes from this, when in His infinite love for mankind, He sent an angel from heaven to
reveal this to us so that no one would have any doubt about it.
In order to pray in this way, we must bear in mind the method of prayer, how it is possible to pray without ceasing, i.e. to pray with the mind. We
can always do this, it only we desire it.
While we are occupied with handiwork, while we walk, while we eat or drink--we can always pray with the mind, or perform mental prayer pleasing to
God, true prayer.
With our body let us work,
but with our soul let us pray.
Let our outer man perform all his bodily activities; but let the inner man be completely given over to serving God and never cease this spiritual
activity of mental prayer as Jesus the God-Man commanded us in the holy Gospel:
When thou prayest, enter into the closet and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret (Matt. 6:6).
The closet of the soul is the body: the doors are our five bodily senses. The soul enters its closet when the mind does not wander here and there
pursuing worldly matters, but when it finds its place in our heart.
Our senses shut the themselves up and remain that way when we do not allow them to cling to outward sensual matters, and, in this way our mind
remains free from all worldly attachments and by means of the hidden mental prayer unites itself to God its Father.
And thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly, adds the Lord. God, Who knows everything hidden, sees mental prayer and rewards with
manifest and great gifts.
For that is true and perfect prayer which fills the soul with divine grace and spiritual gifts--like myrrh which, the more you compress it into a
vessel, makes the vessel the more fragrant. So it is with prayer: the tighter you lock it into your heart, the more it abounds with God's grace.
By means of mental prayer the passions(sins of the flesh) are tamed, just as Daniel tamed the wild beasts.
It draws the dew of the Holy Spirit down into the heart, just as the prayers of Elijah brought down rain upon Mt. Carmel.
This mental prayer reaches the very throne of God where it is treasured in golden vials and like a censer it gives off a sweet fragrance 'before the
Lord just as St. John the Theologian saw in his revelation:
Four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints
This mental prayer is the light enlightening man's soul and enkindling his heart with the fire of love towards God.
It is the chain uniting God to man and man to God. O, there is nothing that can compare to the grace of mental prayer!
It makes man a constant converser with God. O truly wondrous and most wondrous work! In the body you are with people, but mentally you converse with