Prayer *and* Fasting

 

It seems that I can pray or I can fast but I have a hard time doing both. 

During Great Lent, it is easy for me to keep the fast.  As an old hippie,  I already have vegan leanings and relish the opportunity to dust off my old vegetarian cookbooks.   However, I find that I have a very hard time maintaining my prayer rule during Lent.  I asked a monastic friend, Father Lawrence, why this might be and he said it’s spiritual warfare.  What did Our Lord say to His disciples who were unable to cast out a particularly nasty demon?  “These come out only through prayer and fasting.”   Prayer and fasting are spiritual weapons that when used together can give us victory over demonic powers.  Therefore, it makes sense that we would be tempted to slack off in either prayer or fasting.    When I am overcome by feelings of despondancy and sloth during prayer time,  I need to remember that this is exactly the effect the demons are hoping to produce in me. 

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Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim

O Lord and Master of my life,
Take from me the spirit of sloth, despair,
lust of power and idle talk;
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience,
and love to Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my
own transgressions and not to judge
my brother, for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages.

Amen.