How often have I searched for the “Method” to pray. I hate to admit to you, but often. “Just tell me the steps so I can follow them and come to know God,” I have asked repeatedly. But, after time in our foolish efforts we find out how naive this notion is. Still I seek for the “Method.” How about you?
The quotation below from Elder Paisios strikes me as an important truth:
One afternoon, I had the opportunity to speak in private with a venerable monk in the library of the monastery’s guesthouse. At one point, I told him, “Elder, I’d like you to teach me to pray.” With a surprised look in his eyes, he repeated my words, “You want me to teach you to pray?”
“Yes, Elder, what should I do in order to pray? What do I have to say? How should I sit?” Being influenced by Hinduism, I imagined that there must be a special method or technique, just as there was for the meditation I practiced. He understood how little I knew, but he didn’t show it. “It is really quite simple, and you must approach prayer with simplicity. Just sit calmly in some corner and speak to Christ as though He were in front of you and listening to you. And He is in front of you and listening to you. Just speak to Him as you would one of your friends.”…
On the following day, I walked two and a half hours in order to see Father Paisios and to tell him what happened. Smiling, he said, “Sit down, and I’ll bring you a pistol.” He went into his cell and brought me a prayer rope with thirty-three knots, representing the years of Christ’s earthly life, and a cross. “Guess what?” he said, laughing. “This shoots spiritual bullets. Every time you say the prayer “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner,” it’s like shooting at the devil, so he won’t come near you. Take it, so you’ll have it to defend yourself.