Evagrius, On Prayer 20–22


If you wish to pray as you ought, do not cause grief to any soul. Otherwise you are running in vain.


He says, “Leave your gift before the altar, go, and first be reconciled to your brother.” Then when you come back you will pray without disturbance. For during prayer a grudge will mar the ruling faculty of the mind and cast a shadow over your prayers.


Those who sweep up grudges and grief for themselves while thinking that they are praying are like those who draw water into a jar with holes.

Evagrius, On Prayer 17–19


Go, sell your possessions, and give them to the poor. Then take up your cross and deny yourself so that you can carry out your prayer without distraction.


If you want to carry out your prayer in a laudable way, deny yourself hour by hour, and bear philosophically all manner of terrible things for the sake of prayer.


Whenever you withstand hardship philosophically, you will find the fruit of this at the time of prayer.

Evagrius On Prayer 12-13


Whenever a temptation comes your way or a dispute incites you to release your anger in revenge or shout some unfitting word, recall your prayer and the clarity of discernment you have during it. At once, the uncontrolled emotion within you will cease.


Whatever you do to avenge yourself against a brother who has treated you wrongly will become a hurdle to you in the time of prayer.

Evagrius, On Prayer 8–11


While weeping for their sins many people forget the point of tears and get lost in their madness.


Stand with diligence, persist in prayer with resolution, and continually turn away the attacks of cares and worrying thoughts. These vex and throng about you to sap away your resolution.


When demons see you desiring truly to carry out your prayer, they suggest thoughts of various tasks that seem necessary and soon stir up your memory about them, thereby moving the mind to seek after them. When it doesn’t find them, it gets upset and loses heart. When it then stands for prayer, they remind it of memories and these objects of seeking, so that the mind goes slack for this knowledge and loses the prayer that is truly fruitful.


Strive to have your mind stand deaf and speechless at the time of prayer, and you will be able to pray.

Evagrius, On Prayer 6–7


Use tears to correct every request, as the Lord takes great delight in receiving a prayer born of tears.


Even if you pour out streams of tears in your prayer, you should never become conceited, as though you were superior to others. After all, your prayer has simply received additional support so that through tears you can more freely confess your sins and find reconciliation with God. Therefore, do not turn into a compulsion what should be a fortress against compulsion. Otherwise you’ll anger further the One who has bestowed on you this gift.

Evagrius, On Prayer 4–5


If in trying to approach an earthly burning bush Moses is prevented from coming close until he “removes his sandals from his feet,” how could you, who wish to see and converse with the One who is beyond all perception and concept, not remove every compulsive thought?


Persist first in prayer to receive tears, so that through this grief you can tame the wildness that resides in your soul and so that by “testifying against yourself of your lawlessness to the Lord” you obtain from him release.