On one occasion Abba Moses of Patara was engaged in a war against fornication, and he could not endure being in his cell, and he went and informed Abba Isidore of it; and the old man entreated him to return to his cell, but he would not agree. And having said, “Father I cannot bear it,” the old man took him up to the roof of his cell and said unto him, “Look to the west,” and when he looked he saw multitudes of devils with troubled and terrified aspects and they showed themselves in the forms of phantoms with fighting attitudes. Abba Isidore said to him, “Look to the east,” and when he looked he saw innumerable holy angels standing there, and they were in a state of great glory.
Then Abba Isidore said unto him, “Behold those who are in the west are those who are fighting with the holy ones; and those whom you have seen in the east are those who are sent by God to the help of the saints, for those who are with us are many.” And having seen these, Abba Moses took courage and returned to his cell without fear.
Prayer is an effective power that brings us into contact with the Christ who is actually present within us. He is the source of every power, blessing, and life: “Whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redempion” (1 Cor 1.30). He who does not use the power of prayer never makes contact with the Christ who is within him. He thus lives alienated from God’s wisdom. He remains deprived of his righteousness, sanctification and redemption. However hard we may try to know Christ without prayer, we would only know him as a Saviour of people, a Redeemer of others, a Sanctifier of saints, a Justifier of sinners. We would remain deprived of all these gifts and graces. We will not receive them unless we first receive Christ through prayer within our lives. We should first make him at rest in our hearts so he may live in us. He should share everything with us and manage all our affairs.
Christ will never unite with one’s thoughts, emotions, will or senses unless he first unites with one’s soul. So man should first open his whole being in prayer that Christ may rest in the recesses of his soul. God has created this soul in his own image for himself that he may own it and rule it completely. He is thus able to manage man’s life and command his thoughts, emotions, will and senses.
Christ becomes king over man’s soul through man’s frequent prayer and the outpouring of his self. He becomes the true centre of its being and movements. At that stage, man will never find rest in anything except in Christ alone, where the image would rest in its own likeness. Since the soul has been created for immortality, it will thus find in Christ, when it unites with him, its ultimate joy. Through his existence, he consummates its own existence and immortality.
[Fr. Matta El Meskeen (the Poor), Orthodox Prayer Life]
Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance, suppresses anger, restrains pride and envy, draws down upon the Holy Spirit into the soul and raises man to heaven.
[Mar Ephraim the Syrian, Moore, Orthodox Prayer]
Prayer is by nature a dialogue between man and God. It unites the soul with its Creator and reconciles the two. Its effect is to hold the world together.
[John of the Ladder, Ladder of Divine Ascent]
We must also know, beloved brethren, that every secret converse, every good care of the intellect directed toward God and every meditation upon spiritual things is delimited by prayer, is called by the name of prayer, and under its name is comprehended; whether you speak of various readings, or the cries of a mouth glorifying God, or sorrowing reflection on the Lord, or making bows with the body, or psalmody in verses, or all other things from which the teaching of genuine prayer comes. From genuine prayer, the love of God is born, for love comes of prayer.
[Mar Isaac the Syrian, Homily 63, Ascetical Homilies]
He also said, “To flee from the things of the body is a good thing; for the person who is close to the war against the body is like somebody standing above a very deep pit. Whenever it seems fit to the enemy, he easily throws the person down. But if he is some distance from bodily matters, he is like one far removed from the pit, so that even if the enemy drags him along to throw him down, even while he is dragging and coercing him, God sends him help.”
[Abba Poemen, Apophtegmata Patrum]