Evagrius, On Prayer 38–40

38

Pray persistently first to be cleansed of compulsions; second, for deliverance from ignorance and forgetfulness; and third, from every temptation and sense of abandonment.

39

In your prayer seek only righteousness and the kingdom, that is, virtue and knowledge, and all the rest will be added to you.

40

It is right to pray not only for your own cleansing, but also for all your fellow people, so that you may imitate the way of the angels.

Evagrius, On Prayer 34–37

34

Do not fall into doubt when you do not immediately receive from God your request. He wants to bless you still further as you persevere with him in prayer. After all, what could be more exalted than conversing with God and exerting oneself for intimacy with him?

35

Undistracted prayer is the mind’s highest mental activity.

36

Prayer is the mind’s ascent toward God.

37

If you desire to carry out your prayer, reject all things so that you may inherit the all.

Evagrius, On Prayer 31–33

31

Do not go on praying that your own desires come to pass, since they do not cohere perfectly with the desire of God. Instead, pray persistently as you have learned, “thy will be done in me.” In every endeavor, pray this way, so that his will would be done. After all, he desires what is good and beneficial for your soul. But quite often you do not pursue this.

32

Often after praying I would ask for what I thought good to come to pass and would persist irrationally in this request, thereby doing violence to the will of God and refusing to yield to it so that he would carry out what he knows to be best. Indeed, when I got what I asked for, I was extremely bitter that I hadn’t been asking for his will instead, for the matter does not work out like I’d supposed.

33

What is good besides God? So let us entrust all our affairs to him and they will go well. After all, he who is entirely good is also the giver of good gifts.

Evagrius, On Prayer 28–30

28

Do not go about your prayer only by external postures. Instead, continually direct your mind with great reverence to an awareness of spiritual prayer.

29

Sometimes when you stand for prayer you will immediately pray well. Other times, you won’t obtain your aim even after striving hard. This is so that you will seek still further. Then, once you obtain it, you will hold this virtue inviolately.

30

When an angel is present, all those that besiege us depart at once and the mind finds itself much relaxed and praying in a healthy way. But other times the normal battle takes place, and the mind fights and refuses to relax, because it is stirred up by various compulsions. And yet, when it searches further, it will find what it seeks, for to the “one who knocks vigorously, the door will be opened.”

Evagrius, On Prayer 28–30

28

Do not go about your prayer only by external postures. Instead, continually direct your mind with great reverence to an awareness of spiritual prayer.

29

Sometimes when you stand for prayer you will pray well immediately. Other times, you won’t obtain your aim even after striving hard. This is so that you will seek still further. Then, once you obtain it, you will hold this virtue inviolately.

30

When an angel is present, all those that besiege us depart at once and the mind finds itself much relaxed and praying in a healthy way. But sometimes the normal battle takes place, and the mind fights and refuses to relax, because it is stirred up by various compulsions. And yet, when it searches further, it will find what it seeks, for to the “one who knocks vigorously, the door will be opened.”

Evagrius, On Prayer 23–27

23

If you are patient, you will always pray with joy.

24

While you are praying as you ought, situations will come to mind where you will think that you are entirely justified in using anger. Yet quite simply, there is no justified anger against your neighbor. If you examine the situation, you’ll find that it is possible for it to be resolved well even without anger. So use every means at your disposal not to break out in anger.

25

See to it that while you think you are curing another you do not become incurable yourself and thereby cut off the growth of your prayer.

26

By being sparing with anger you will find yourself spared. You will show yourself to be prudent and will be counted among those who truly pray.

27

As you are defending yourself against anger, you should never give into lust. Lust provides fuel to anger, which in turn disturbs the eye of the mind and ruins the state of prayer.

Evagrius, On Prayer 20–22

20

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

21

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.

22

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.