November 21 - Daily Thoughts from St. Theophan, One of Russia's Favorite 19th Century Writers

"Lifting up your heart, tuning it to the Lord, is the purpose behind prayer services and church rites, and all those who consciously follow this course of prayer do, indeed, achieve their goal."

Originally appeared at: Global Orthodox

Editor's Note: Saint Theophan the Recluse (1815-1894) was one of the most prolific and beloved spiritual writers of 19th-century Russia. His works comprise over twenty volumes. Although he lived the last twenty-eight years of his life as a hermit, his impact on his homeland was immense. His articles appeared in the popular spiritual journals of his time, his books were in great demand, and he personally replied to an average of thirty letters daily. We will be publishing excerpts from Thoughts for Each Day of the Year (Amazon). In it, St. Theophan takes us through the yearly cycle of Gospel and Epistle readings, humbly and reverently offering us brief but powerful daily meditations on the word of God. He also addresses the problems of his day: lack of faith, coldness of heart, trust in the rational mind rather than in the revealed Truth of God - which are problems of our day as well.


22nd Sunday after Pentecost
Epistle reading: Galatians 6:11-18
Gospel reading: Luke 8:41-56

The Course of Prayer

Having fallen at the feet of the Lord, openly, before the crowd of people, Jairus asked Him to heal his daughter — and the Lord heard him. He did not say anything, but stood up and immediately went to Jairus’ house. On His way, a woman with an issue of blood was also healed. Likewise, she had prayed to the Lord, though she did not call Him openly, and did not fall prostrate before Him [Luke 8:41-44]. It was a secret prayer of her heart which the Lord heard. Unnoticed by the crowd, she called unto Him from within her heart. The Lord heard that call and gave her what she had been asking for.

The woman’s prayer is basically the same as Jairus’, though there are certain differences between them. The Lord always heeds such prayers, filled with faith, with hope, and fidelity. Someone would say: “I also pray fervently, on and on — and still to no avail!” But take a careful look into your prayer, compare it to the prayers of Jairus and the woman with the issue of blood, and you will see the reason why. If you are praying openly, prostrate before the Lord, like Jairus, or if you are praying secretly, standing in the crowd, like the woman, no later than the genuine prayer is enkindled in your heart, it will reach the Lord and attract his mercy.

The question is how to achieve that intensity of prayer. And the answer is very simple: work hard. Work hard, and you will see it coming. Lifting up your heart, tuning it to the Lord, is the purpose behind prayer services and church rites, and all those who consciously follow this course of prayer do, indeed, achieve their goal.

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