Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights. (James,1:17)
Saint John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria
Commemorated November 12th
Saint Silouan the Athonite
If our prayer is pleasing to the Lord, then the Spirit of God bears witness in our soul. The Spirit of God is pleasant and tranquil. But in the past I did not know whether or no the Lord had heard my prayer, nor how it is possible to tell.
Sorrow and danger have brought many people to prayer.
A soldier came to see me in the storehouse. He was on his way to Salonika. My soul took a liking to him, and I said to him:
‘Pray to the Lord that there be less affliction in the world.’
And he replied, ‘I know how to pray. I learnt in the war, when I was fighting. I prayed hard to the Lord to let me live. Bullets showered down, shells burst, and few of us were left alive; but I was in many a battle and the Lord preserved me.’ As he spoke he showed me how he prayed and by the attitude of his body it was plain how he had been utterly rapt in God.
Many people like to read good books, and this is right, but it is best of all to pray; while he who reads newspapers or bad books condemns his soul to go hungry – hungry because the food of the soul and her true satisfaction lie in God. In God are life, joy, gladness, and the Lord loves us ineffably, and this love is made known by the Holy Spirit.
The Lord gave us the commandment to love God with all our hearts, with all our minds, with all our souls. But without prayer how can one love? The mind and heart of man, therefore, must always be free to pray.
Prayer is the path to God. Through prayer we obtain humility, patience and every good gift.
Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), Saint Silouan the Athonite, translated by Rosemary Edmonds (Essex: Patriarchal and Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist, 1991)
Apolytikion Saint John the Merciful in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
In patiently enduring, you obtained your reward, O venerable father. You persevered in your prayers without ceasing; and you loved the impoverished and you satisfied them. We entreat you, intercede with Christ God, O blessed John the Merciful, for the salvation of our souls.