Learning how to pray from the Holy Fathers

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matthew, 17:20).

Once the brothers asked Abba Agathon: which virtue is the most difficult? He answered them: “I think, that the hardest thing is to pray to God. When a person wants to pray, then his enemies disturb him, because they know, that the prayer can defeat them. When a person performs a feat, then the results of it get him a relief. But the prayer means fight till the last second of your life”. 
Saint Abba Agathon

Why do we need to pray for a long time? Because only a long-lasting prayer can soften our cold and tough hearts, which became insensitive because of daily vanity. It is strange and even foolish to demand, that a tough heart can feel the warm of love to God during the prayer. To feel it you need to work hard on yourself, as well as plenty of time.
Saint John of Kronstadt

You should ask for something significant. And do not stop asking till you get what you need. It can take a month, a year, or three years, or maybe even more, but you should not stop asking. Ask wholeheartedly and strive to do good all the time.
Saint Basil the Great

Be prudent in what you ask for, or you will call down the wrath of God with your foolishness. When you ask the King of the kings for something miserable, then you depreciate Him and His might. The Israeli asked Him to fulfill their material desires, ignoring the God’s miracles happened in the desert. Those who pray for some molder material benefits, they will cause God’s anger. Angels and archangels – His grandees – are looking at you while you are praying. They are happy when they see a person, who managed to cope with his material desires and who is asking now for something spiritual. And they are in mourning, when someone is praying for material goods, leaving spiritual things unattended.
Saint Ignatius Bryanchaninov

When you begin to pray, you have to suppress all the thoughts which distract you. Then, on the medium stage, you should form your thoughts into the words you will speak or think. But the highest level is when you are glorifying God.
Saint John the Climacus

Read the prayers slowly. Try to give heed to each word, and make each word reach your heart: you have to understand what you are reading and feel what you understand. In this case your prayer will please the Lord.
Saint Theophan the Recluse

There is a necessary condition to succeed in your prayer – you have to cast aside all your passions. When you are trying to make your heart pure, the reading prayer turns into the mental and hearty one. St. Theophan the Recluse once said, that “when the hearts is pure, then the prayer is just”.
Archimandrite Georgiy Tertyshnikov

Mind yourself while praying, so that your inner man prays as well. Despite your depravity, you have to pray no matter what. Ignore temptations sent by the devil, and overcome his scheme. Remember about the deep of kindness and mercy of our Lord. The devil will strive to show you God as unkind and rejecting your prayer and penance, but you recall the words of the Savior: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John, 6:37) and “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew, 11:28).
Saint John of Kronstadt

We can compare long-lasting but inattentive prayer to the heavy rain pouring on the metal roof. The water flows down no matter how much and how long it drops. It has no effect on the roof. On the other hand, attentive prayer can be just like beneficial rain, which irrigates the field, which will later provide people with a rich harvest. 
Saint Ignatius Bryanchaninov

Translated from: http://www.diveevo.ru/668/

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