Evagrius, On Prayer 53–55

53

The state of prayer is a condition free from compulsion that through desire for the highest good conducts the philosophic and spiritual mind to the summit of mental and spiritual reality.

54

The one who really wishes to carry out their prayer should rule not only over their lust and anger, but become free of every compulsive thought.

55

By turning away every compulsive thought, the one who loves God continually converses with him as with a father.

Evagrius, On Prayer 51–52

51

Why do demons want to work up within us gluttony, sexual immorality, greed, anger, grudges, and the other compulsions? So that the mind would grow dull by them and thence unable carry out its prayer as it ought. After all, when the compulsions of the irrational part of the soul are in charge, they do not allow the mind to be moved in accordance with reason and to seek eagerly the God who is himself Rationality and Word.

52

We pursue virtues so that we may grasp the rational principles of the natural world, and pursue these so that we may grasp the Word who is himself rationality. Now it is precisely in the state of prayer that he likes to reveal himself.

Evagrius, On Prayer 47–49

47

The demon is exceedingly envious of a person at prayer and uses every means to ruin this goal. That’s why it never ceases stirring up thoughts about daily affairs through the memory and inciting compulsive desires through the flesh. It does this so that it can impede our progress in our journey out of this country to God.

48

Whenever that most foul demon is unable, after much trying, to hinder earnest prayer, it withdraws for a short time and then later has its revenge after the end of prayer. It either kindles some sort of anger within you and ruins that excellent and disciplined state that comes from prayer, or seduces you to some irrational pleasure and does violence to your mind.

49

After you have prayed as you ought, be on your guard against what you ought not to do and stand with courage as you guard your fruit. After all, in the beginning you were commanded “to work and to keep.” So after you have done your work, do not let the result of your labor go unguarded. Otherwise, you’ll have no benefit from your prayer.

Evagrius, On Prayer 44–46

44

If your mind still gazes about you during the time of prayer, you know that a solitary mind is no longer praying, but a worldly one, for it is trying to adorn its outward tent.

45

In your prayer. guard your memory with all your power so that it doesn’t present all the normal things to the mind but instead moves you to knowledge of the presence. By natural inclination the mind is easily held captive by memory during the time of prayer.

46

While in prayer your memory will present to you either mental images of old matters, or newer concerns, or the face of someone who has caused you pain.

Evagrius, On Prayer 41–43

41

See to it that you are truly present with God in your prayer rather than being overcome by the desire for human praise. When you spur yourself with human praise you are using prayer as a veil to true presence.

42

Whether you are praying with your brothers and sisters, or all alone, strive to carry out your prayer not through habit, but with perception.

43

Perception in prayer is the reverent and sorrowful awareness of a soul in pain from the confession of its faults by silent groaning.