– Geronda, how do you pray about a certain matter?
– The main thing is to feel compassion. If one is not compassionate, he may sit for hours with the komboschoini and his prayer will have no result whatsoever. If there is pain in his heart about what he is praying for, even with a single sigh he will have prayed from the heart. Many, who when asked to pray have no time, will sigh for the other’s problem and that in itself is a prayer. I’m not saying prayer needn’t be done, but if there is no time, a sigh for the pain of another is a prayer from the heart; it equals hours of prayer. You read, for example, a letter, you realize there is a problem, you sigh over it and then you pray. This is very important! Before you even pick up the telephone receiver, even before you call, God hears you! And how the other person learns of this! You should see how those possessed by demons realize when I am praying for them and cry aut wherever they may be!
Real prayer begins from pain, it is not a pleasant experience, a ‚nirvana’. What kind of pain is it? One is troubled in the good sense. He feels pain, he groans, he suffers when praying for anything whatsoever. Do you know what it means to suffer? Yes, he suffers because he is participating in everyone’s pain or in the pain of one particular person. This participation, this pain is rewarded by God with divine exultation. Of course, he doesn’t ask for this exultation, but it comes as a consequence because he participates in the pain of others.
– Let’s say he learns of an accident and sighs and at that moment God gives him divine consolation for his compassionate sigh. He sees someone who is hurting and immediately feels compassion, and is thus consoled by God with divine consolation, he doesn’t remain with that initial bitterness over the accident. The other person is helped through his prayer. Or he may think to himself: ‚God has given us so many blessings, what have I done for God?’ I was impressed by what one soul said to me: ‚The angels cover their faces when the Mystery of Holy Eucharist is being celebrated, while we commune with the Body and Blood of Christ. What have I done for Christ?’ he suffers in a good sense.
– Geronda, how does one understand that someone has been helped by his prayer?
– He realizes it from the divine consolation which he feels inside after praying from the heart in pain. But first you must make the other person’s pain your own pain and then pray from the heart. Love is a divine attribute and informs the other person. Even in hospitals, when the doctors and nurses feel genuine compassion for their patients, this is the most effective medicine of all medications given to them. The patients feel they are being cared for with love, they have a sense of certainty, security and consolation. You needn’t say much to someone who is suffering, nor to instruct him. He understands that you feel his pain and care about him and he is helped by this. Feeling their pain is everything. If we feel compassion for others, we forget about ourselves and our problems.
(Excerpt from Elder Paisios, ‚Spiritual Awakening’)