Speaking of his own endeavors with the Jesus prayer, St. John writes: “When you have Christ in your heart, make sure you do not lose Him and together with Him your inner tranquility, for it is bitterly hard to begin anew; all your efforts to attach yourself once again to Him after falling away will be hard and will cause many bitter tears. Cling to Christ with all your might, attach yourself to Him and do not lose your sacred connection with Him. Christ, introduced into the heart through faith, dwells there in peace and joy. When you notice that your heart is cold and unwilling to pray – stop and warm your heart with some dynamic vision – for example, of your iniquity, of your spiritual poverty and blindness, or of God’s great and continuous blessings upon you and all of mankind, especially Christians, – and afterwards continue to pray unhurriedly, with warm feeling; even if you do not have time to finish all your prayers, that does not present a problem, since much greater benefit accrues from warm and unhurried prayer than from reading all the prayers without any feeling. It is well to pray continuously, but not all are capable of such an effort, thus to each his own. Whoever is unable to cope with lengthy prayer should preferably pray briefly, but with an ardent soul. One should ceaselessly address the Lord and be with Him every single moment, in order to avoid being overcome by demonic irritation or dejection. By using the spirit of dejection, the enemy has led many people away from the narrow and salvific path and unto the wide and smooth path of perdition. While praying count yourself for nothing and accept prayer as a great gift from God. Pray without any hesitation, with heartfelt simplicity: just as it is easy to think, so should it be easy to pray. Prayer is the breath of the soul just as air is the breath of the body. Our souls breathe with the Holy Spirit. One cannot utter a single heartfelt word without the Holy Spirit. While praying you are conversing directly with the Lord, and if your heart is open through faith and love, you will at the same time breathe in the spiritual blessings issuing from Him. Learn to pray, force yourself to pray; at first it will be hard, but afterwards, the more you force yourself, the easier it will get, but initially you must always force yourself. When you pray to God, look with the eyes of your heart inside yourself, at your soul. The Lord is there, in your thoughts and in the movements of your heart, just as He is outside of you and everywhere. The heart’s insensitivity to the genuineness of the words of prayer comes from disbelief and insensitivity of one’s one sinfulness, which comes, in turn, from a hidden feeling of pride. From his feelings during a prayer a person can discover whether he is full of pride or humility: the more ardent is his prayer, the humbler he is, and the more insensitive the prayer – the greater his pride.”

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