St Paul of Thebes – Praying unceasingly

20160128_stpaulthebes_sqIn the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. We commemorate St Paul of Thebes of Egypt. May St Paul pray for us. Amen.

The monastics of old, gave us the practical wisdom of what the Apostle meant by “going into our room, close the door, and pray to our Father who is unseen. And then our Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (St Matthew 6:6). How did the monastics and Desert Fathers do that?

They went into the deep desert, and prayed unto the Lord. They did not ask God for favors, gifts or blessings, but only to repent before the Lord in secret, without drama to the world, and just sought to grow closer to God.

St Paul of Thebes in Egypt was the same, and was one of the fathers of Orthodox monasticism. He settled into an unknown cave, and pray unceasingly to God, day and night, for 91 years! He ate only dates and bread brought to him by a raven, and clothed himself against the cold with palm leaves. The saint lived a ripe old age of prayer, with revelations revealed to him by God, and he reposed when he was 113 years old in 341 AD.

When we reflect upon Isaiah 26:8-9 and Psalm 116:1-8, we are reminded to wait on the Lord, and be patient. We are not to imagine that our will prevails, but to be patient in waiting for His Will. Our Lord inclines His Ears to us, but it is also up to us to make the attempt to grow closer to Him in repentance and prayer, and not to simply succumb to our passions and desires. And in Psalm 116:1-8, we are reminded to be as little children – simple and humble, and then we will grow closer in reunion and reconciliation with our Lord.

Death comes to all (St Mark 9:10-16), and therefore, since we do not hold the knowledge to know when we will repose, we must be vigilant to pray, unceasingly if we can.

And as the Epistles remind us (Hebrews 10:35-11:7), we are to be confident, be courageous, and to leave all burdens with our Lord, who will lead us out of spiritual illness and death, and towards Him in healing and freedom.

Let us pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Let us close by praying the thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr Raphael+

Isaiah 26:8-9
Psalm 116:1-8
Hebrews 10:35-11:7
Mark 9:10-16