What makes prayer a sin?
One day Father Gabriel asked his visitors,
– Can anyone explain what it means when prayer is “imputed as a sin”?
– Maybe it happens when we pray incorrectly – someone answered.
– No, this might happen even if we pray correctly
– Maybe it happens when our prayer is not from the heart.
– No, sometimes it happens when we pray fervently.
– Maybe we pray inattentively or absentmindedly.
– No, let me explain
At that time, a parishioner came to him for a blessing. The elder asked her to do something for him, and she replied that she was busy right at the moment and that she would take care of it when she gets a chance.
– You see, now she will go and pray for five hours. But how can God hear her prayer if she has just said “no” to someone asking for her help? If you do not fulfill God’s commandments, do not bother Him with your many prayers. He will not hear them, and your prayer will be imputed as a sin for you. Good deeds open the doors of heaven. Humility will lead you there, and love will help you find God. Prayer is dead if it is not followed by good deeds.
A Glass of Water
A novice standing near Elder Gabriel’s cell was once approached by a group of pilgrims who asked her for some drinking water. The sister was too lazy to bring water to them, so she sent these pilgrims to the monastic refectory. When she entered the elder’s cell, he sternly asked her, “How did it happen that you chose not to do a good deed? Go quickly, give these people water so that no one gets ahead of you. And remember that even one glass of water given to your neighbor will not go unnoticed before God”.
The Word of God
One day a young couple visited Fr Gabriel. The woman was pregnant. Father Gabriel blessed them and said,
– Beloved, you should know that the child understands everything, so make sure that he hears the word of God, so that he may be brought up in chastity from the very beginning.
The husband was surprised at the Venerable’s words and said,
– Father, I do not understand anything they say behind a half-open door; how is a child in the womb supposed to understand God’s word?
Father Gabriel looked at the woman and spoke to the child in her womb,
– Baby, tell us, can you hear the word of God?
As soon as he said this, the child stirred so much that the mother grabbed her belly, unable to hide her emotions. The husband looked at his wife in amazement, already believing what Fr Gabriel had said.
What is Fasting?
One monk asked Elder Gabriel what fasting was. “Here,” he said and then he told this monk about all the sins that he had committed. The monk was very ashamed and did not know what to do. Falling to his knees, he burst into tears. Then the elder said with a smile, “Now go and eat your lunch”. “No, father, thank you, I’m not hungry” the monk replied. “This is exactly what fasting is. You remember your sins, repent and then stop thinking about food”.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds