Tonight we came to the conclusion of Letter 47 on developing a prayer rule. St. Theophan begins by warning Anastasia that she must be even more diligent and concentrated in the evening. It is then that we often become sluggish and inattentive as we become more and more fatigued or after we have had the evening meal. It is at times like this that we can be subject to particular temptations. Therefore, Theophan tells Anastasia that she should increase her prostrations and petitions to God and that she should even seek to fall asleep with the Jesus prayer on her lips or reciting some psalm.
Along these lines Theophan encourages her to memorize a certain number of the psalms; in particular those that speak to her heart. She should allow herself to read through the Psalter and then select those that mean the most to her. And this way she will be fully armed for the spiritual battle. Most important of all, however, is that Anastasia sees herself standing before God with her “mind in the heart with devotion and heartfelt prostration to him.” All of his other suggestions are mere aids in the practice. What is going on in the heart is most important.
He then tells her that in her prayer rule she should set a distinct number of short prayers that she says as well as a set number of prostrations that are done. This will keep her from falling into laziness and help her to stretch herself in the development of her prayer. She should not speed through these and if she does she should add additional prostrations to her practice. Thus, she must have a certain spiritual maturity; not trying to cheat God.
As a brief conclusion Theophan tells her that he is sending her a prayer rope that he wants her to use. This is not a monastic thing, he emphasizes. In fact, Theophan received and heard about the prayer rope from a lay person. It is simply an aid to allow one’s love and devotion to be directed to God; one that adds a bodily element to that effort. For this reason it is invaluable.
Text of chat during the group:
00:28:58 Eric Ash: I'm reminded of a study that showed artist renditions of the last supper have been showing an increased portion size over the centuries as society's view of what a modest portion is has grown.
00:37:14 Scott: https://www.amazon.com/Psalms-New-Translation-Singing-Version/dp/0809116693/ref=sr_1_5
This Psalter is the same translation as the breviary commonly used in the US, which is a pleasant translation.
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