First obedience and then prayer

 

The following are thoughts of Elder Ephraim of Katounaki, a loose translation from an article in Serbian:

“…If you live in obedience, you will find the path to your salvation.  To give you an example. I was once sitting in my cell, occupying my time with noetic prayer, while my brother was doing something regarding seals for prosphora breads. I found myself in a state of grace (vision of the uncreated light). Grace can be in a person for a short period of time. Five minutes. One hour. It can also be for two, three hours. The monk from the next cell called me to lunch. I didn’t want to leave right away, until the grace leaves me. But because of such thoughts – disobedience, grace instantly left me and  I said to myself: “What have you done?” Because of disobedience I instantly lost grace. The holy fathers tell us that obedience must take the first place and then prayer. I had prayer but not obedience, and lost prayer as well. Being obedient, prayer can be preserved. Therefore, prayer proceeds from obedience. With obedience, prayer can be much more fervent. Thus, I received disobedience, I lost prayer – twice the damage.

I repeat: from obedience – prayer! The holy fathers say that one does not go to the monastery to pray, but to learn obedience.

Elder Ephraim of Katounaki

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