On Fasting and Prayer

This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting (Mark 9: 29).

This is the saving prescription of the greatest Physician of human souls. This is the remedy tried and proven. There is not another remedy for madness. What kind of sickness is this? This is the presence and dominance of an evil spirit in a man, a dangerous evil spirit, who labors to eventually destroy the body and soul of man. The boy, whom our Lord freed from an evil spirit, had been hurled by it at times into the fire and at times into the water, just in order to destroy him. As long as a man only philosophizes about God, he is weak and completely helpless against an evil spirit. The evil spirit ridicules the feeble sophistry of the world. But as soon as a man begins to fast and to pray to God, the evil spirit becomes filled with indescribable fear. In no way can the evil spirit tolerate the fragrance of prayer and fasting. The sweet-smelling fragrance chokes him and weakens him to utter exhaustion. In a man who only philosophizes about faith, there is spacious room in him for the demons. But in a man who sincerely begins to pray to God and to fast with patience and hope, it becomes narrow and constricted for the demon, so the demon must flee from such a man. Against certain bodily ills there exists only one remedy. Against the greatest illness of the soul, demonic possession, there exist two remedies, which must be utilized at one and the same time: fasting and prayer. The apostles and saints fasted and prayed to God. That is why they were so powerful against evil spirits. O gracious Jesus, our Physician and Helper in all misfortunes, strengthen us by the power of Thy Holy Spirit, that we may be able to adhere to Thy saving precepts concerning fasting and prayer, for the sake of our salvation and the salvation of our fellow men. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

Velimirovic, Saint Nikolai. The Prologue of Ohrid (Kindle Locations 3723-3735). Sebastian Press Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

 

On the Indispensability of Sobriety in the Battle Against the Devil

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5: 8)

Orthodox monks have emphasized sobriety and vigilance as essential to asceticism. The spirit must be sober, in order to sense danger, and vigilant, in order to recognize from where the danger is coming, and from whom. “Be vigilant, my child, that you do not tread on a serpent, that you do not fall into a pit, that you do not encounter a wolf, that you do not venture out into deep water, and that you do not stray from the path and get lost in the forest!” Thus a mother counsels her child, fearing for his body. With no less love does the Church counsel a man, fearing for his soul. Therefore, children, be sober, be vigilant. Your old adversary, the devil, does not rest or sleep but, like a hungry lion, stalks and seeks someone to devour. Be sober, be vigilant, for you are like sheep and he is like a lion. When sheep sense the foul odor of the wolf, they flee to their shepherd. Be vigilant, and you will sense the foulness of the devil when he approaches you, and flee immediately under the protection of your Shepherd, Christ the Lord. You will sense the stench of the devil through your thoughts, through your feelings, through your intentions, and through your fleshly desires. All that you think, imagine, feel, intend or desire contrary to Christ and the Law of Christ— know that this is the snare of the devil, the stench of the devil. Know this, and flee to your Shepherd, directing your entire mind, heart, soul and body to Him. O Lord Jesus, our sober and vigilant Shepherd, make us sober and vigilant at every moment, so that our enemy may not surprise us and devour us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

Velimirovic, Saint Nikolai. The Prologue of Ohrid (Kindle Locations 14535-14543). Sebastian Press Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

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