The struggle for prayer, not merely symbolizes, it actually is the struggle to pursue some of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, namely, lately for me at least, discipline – εγκράτεια – the discipline to avoid thoughts leading to behavior which is the antithesis of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

The struggle for prayer is putting up the good fight against Satan who nefariously works to sully your heart and mind with wayward thought which leads to fruitless action or inaction. We must constantly remind ourselves, even with the great aid of prayer, to conjure up our energy to display discipline so that we remain focused on what is really important.

As the prayer says “changing our minds” – μετάνοια – is a life-long process and we must constantly work as hard as our εγκράτεια allows towards accomplishing it, to reaching deeper levels of discernment and understanding.

And this is why we also have the liturgical life – ακολουθία – to guide us in our prayer. And if at all possible, whether layman or monk, try to maintain the discipline throughout the entire cycle of the day, the entire cycle of the ακολουθία, from the midnight hour to the ninth hour, until the shades of evening, until the last hour, until the Last Day.

Never let go the coat. Never let go the tools of your discipline – εγκράτεια -, Ακολουθία, Tradition, Scripture, Art, and your God-given talents within them, so that you may exercise them fruitfully in the spirit of Holiness.

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