Patristic Tradition

The Path to Unceasing Prayer ( 10.03.2009 )

Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me…

The heart of man is the center of movements above nature, in accordance with nature, and contrary to nature. Everything begins from the heart. If the heart of man is purified, he sees God. But how can we see God? Does God perhaps have human form? Does He have the shape of a human? No, of course not! God is invisible; God is Spirit. He is able, however, to reign in man's heart when it becomes a vessel fit to receive Him. For the heart of man to become a vessel fit to receive God, it must be cleansed of unclean thoughts. But in order for the heart to be cleansed, some kind of cleaner must enter into it. This cleaner is prayer.

Wherever the king goes, his enemies are driven out. And when Christ—or rather, His holy Name—enters into the heart, the phalanxes of demons are put lo flight. When Christ is enthroned well within, then everything becomes submis­sive. It is like when a good king conquers a country and is en­throned in the capital; then he subjugates all the rebels with his army. That is, he pursues the enemies and pacifies the country from internal troubles, and then there is peace. Mean­while, the king sits on his throne and sees that everything has been subdued. Then he rejoices and delights in seeing that the labor and fight have ended and that they have brought obedi­ence, peace, and all the desired results.

Thus it is also with the kingdom of our heart. It has ene­mies within it; it has rebels; it has thoughts; it has passions and weaknesses; it has storms and disturbances—all these are within man's heart. For the kingdom of the heart to be paci­fied and subjugated, Christ, the King, must come with His regiments to take control of it and drive out the enemy, the devil. He must subjugate every agitation from the passions and weaknesses, and reign as an omnipotent emperor. The re­sulting condition is called by the Fathers “stillness of the heart”—when prayer reigns unceasingly, bringing about pu­rity and stillness of heart.


Elder Ephraim Philotheou