Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Chrysostom: Direct Appeals Better than Intercession by Others

Chrysostom (349-407): Prayer is a great weapon, prayer is a wonderful adornment, security and haven, a treasury of good things, wealth beyond threat. When we make requests of human beings, we need an outlay of money, servile flattery, much to-ing and fro-ing and negotiating. Often, in fact, it is not possible to make a direct approach to their lordships personally to grant a favor: it is necessary first to wait upon their ministers or managers or administrators with money and words and every other means, and only then through them to be in a position to receive the request. With God, on the contrary, it is not like this: it not so much on the recommendation of others as on our own request that he grants the favor. In this case, too, both the one receiving it and the one not receiving it are better off, whereas in the case of human beings we often come off worse in both cases.
Since, then, for those approaching God the gain is greater and the facility greater, do not neglect prayer: it is then in particular that he will be reconciled with you when you on your own account appeal to him, when you present a mind purified, thoughts that are alert, when you do not make idle petitions, as many people do, their tongue saying the words while their soul wanders in every direction — through the house, the marketplace, the city streets. It is all the devil’s doing: since he knows that at that time we are able to attain forgiveness of sins, he wants to block the haven of prayer to us, and at that time he goes on the attack to distract us from the sense of the words so that we may depart the worse rather than the better for it

Robert Charles Hill, trans., St. John Chrysostom, Old Testament Homilies, Volume Three: Homilies on the Psalms (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2003), Homily on Psalm 146.1, p. 125.