Perhaps I have previously posted this quote from The Sayings of the Desert Fathers; I don’t remember. But I read it again today during the Office of Prime, and it struck me anew, so here it is:
The brethren also asked [Abba Agathon], “Amongst all good works, which is the virtue that requires the greatest effort?”
He answered, “Forgive me, but I think there is no labor greater than that of prayer to God. For every time a man wants to pray, his enemies, the demons, want to prevent him, for they know that it is only by turning him from prayer that they can hinder his journey. Whatever good work a man undertakes, if he perseveres in it, he will attain rest. But prayer is warfare to the last breath.”
I have certainly found this to be the case for me! Sometimes I ponder my life circumstances, which probably appear pretty soft to most who see only a woman who doesn’t work outside the home – they may wonder, “What the heck does she do all day?” I joke sometimes that I sit on the couch and eat bonbons. Ha! Prayer is hard work. Sometimes I recognize that. Other times I just wonder why I’m so tired.
Right now, I am trying to pray and not worry. I am worried and tense and anxious about things right now, and I know the answer is to abandon myself and my loved ones to Divine Providence. That means trusting God. If I am worried and anxious, I am not trusting. As the Scripture says, “Be nothing solicitous; but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
I’ll be on retreat the rest of this week!
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!