Why You Feel Your Prayers Are Not Heard


by St. John of Kronstadt

Even during prayer, man is for the greater part not the son of freedom, but the slave of necessity and duty. Look at any man you like, even at a priest. Do many of them pray with a free expanded heart, with living faith and love?

During prayer there sometimes occur moments of deadly darkness and spiritual anguish arising from unbelief of the heart (for unbelief is darkness). Do not let your heart fail you at such moments, but remember that if the divine light has been sent off in you, it always shines in all its splendour and greatness in God Himself, in God’s Church, in heaven and on earth, and in the material world in which “His eternal power and Godhead are visible.” Do not think that truth has failed, because truth is God Himself, and everything that exists has its foundation and reason in Him.

Only your own weak, sinful and darkened heart can fail in the truth, for it cannot always bear the strength of the light of truth, and is not always capable of containing its purity, but only it is being or has been purified from its sins, as the first cause of spiritual darkness. The proof of this you may find in yourself. When the light of faith or God’s truth dwells in your heart, only then is it tranquil, firm, strong, and living; but when this is cut off, then your heart becomes uneasy, weak as a reed shaken by the wind, and lifeless.

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Do not pay any attention to this darkness of Satan. Drive it away from your heart by making the sign of the life-giving Cross! Do not spare yourself, but pray earnestly, even if you have been toiling all day. Do not be negligent in holy prayer; say it to God unto the end from your whole heart, for it is a duty you owe to God. Having put your hand to the plough, do not look back. If you allow yourself to pray carelessly, and not from your heart, you will not fall asleep (if you pray at night) until you have wiped out by tears your sin before God. This is not so with everybody, however, but only with the more perfect. Take care, then, not to put your flesh before God, and disdain, for His sake, bodily repose.

If you have made a rule to read so many prayers (whether they be long or short, fulfil the reading of all of them well), read the prayers with all conscientiousness, and do not do God’s work with your heart divided in two, so that only one half belongs to Him and the remaining half to your own flesh. God is a jealous God, and will not suffer your duplicity, your self-pity. He will deliver you up to the Devil, and the Devil will not let your heart rest for your neglect of God, Who is the true peace of your heart, and Who will always do that which is for your own good, so as to keep your heart near Him; for every insincere prayer removes your heart from God and sets it in opposition to you yourself, whilst every earnest prayer draws your heart nearer to God and makes it perpetually godly.

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Thus, be assured, if you hurry over your prayers, to give rest to your body, you will lose both spiritual and bodily rest.

Oh! by what labour, sweat, and tears is the approach of our heart to God gained! Is it possible that we should again make our very prayers (when careless) the means of our estrangement from God, and that God should not be jealous of this? For He pities us and our former labours, and He desires that we should again unfailingly turn to Him with our whole hearts. He wishes that we should always belong to Him.


About Fr. John A. Peck

Director of the Preachers Institute, priest in the Orthodox Church in America, award-winning graphic designer and media consultant, and non-profit administrator.
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