|Holy Trinity Monastery, Greece|
Brandon Vogt (if you're not reading his blog, you should be) writes about the power of prayer, and uses this powerful story to illustrate why we cannot be neglectful of it. Good reminder when we are weary of praying.
“Old Paisios always wondered how people could live their lives without continuously praying.”
“Just to give you an example of how important prayer was for him,” Father Maximos went on, “during the Gulf War he shut himself in his cell, cutting off all contact with visitors. That went on during the entire duration of the war. In fact, he intensified his prayers so that the war, as he told me later, would not get out of control and become even more destructive.”
“Did he really believe that his prayers made a difference? That they truly affected the war in the Gulf?” I asked, and gave Father Maximos a puzzled look. In spite of my many years of exposure to mystics, healers, and hermits, in spite of being a witness to spectacular healing phenomena, and in spite of recent scientific research on the possible efficacy of “intercessory prayer,” the academic skeptic always lurked at the back of my mind, ever ready to jump to the front seat.
“But of course, Kyriacos!” Father Maximos replied in earnest, implying that I should have known by then the power of prayer. “That is why holy men, like elder Paisios, constantly pray. Do you think they are fools? Why does that surprise you? Whether people recognize this fact or not, the prayers of saints for the good of the world are extremely valuable and very, very effective.”
“God listens to them,” Stephanos volunteered from the backseat.
According to the Athonite spiritual tradition, when a human being eradicates personal desires completely and reaches the state of apathia [liberation from egotistical passions], they become a “vessel of the Holy Spirit.” Then whatever that person wishes is given because it is what God actually wishes. The consciousness of the saint is fully attuned with the spirit of God.