An Angelic Confirmation of Saint Gregory Palamas’ Teaching on Unceasing Prayer

St. Gregory Palamas

St. Gregory Palamas

The divine Gregory had a beloved friend named Job, a very simple man of great virtue.  Once when they were conversing, Gregory told him about prayer, that each Christian individually ought always to make an effort to pray, and to pray unceasingly, as the Apostle Paul exhorts all Christians in common, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), and as the Prophet David says, even though he was king and had all those cares of ruling his kingdom, “I behold the Lord ever before me;” that is, noetically, by means of prayer, I see the Lord in front of me all the time.  And Gregory the Theologian teaches all Christians, that we should remember the name of God in prayer more often than we breathe.  Having said all this and more to his friend Job, the Saint added that we ought to obey the injunctions of the saints, and that we ourselves should not only always pray, but we should instruct also everyone else to do the same: monks and lay people, educated or not, men, women, and children; and should encourage them to pray unceasingly.

When the Elder Job heard this, it seemed to him that it was an innovation, and he began to argue, and to say to Gregory that to pray always was only for the ascetics and the monks living away from the world and its distractions, and not for lay people who have jobs and so many cares.  The Saint responded with more examples and irrefutable proof, but the elder Job was not convinced.  So, wishing to avoid talkativeness and argument, Gregory held his tongue, and each went to his cell.

Later, as Job was alone praying in his cell, an Angel appeared before him, sent from God, Who desires the salvation of all men.  The Angel sternly rebuked him for arguing with Gregory, and for opposing what was obvious, and that clearly affects the salvation of Christians.  He admonished him on behalf of God to be careful from now on, and to beware never again to say something against such a soul-edifying work, for in so doing he would be opposing the will of God.  Not even mentally should he ever again dare to harbour any thought contrary to this, or think otherwise than the divine Gregory had told him.  Then that most simple elder went at once to Gregory and, falling at his feet, begged forgiveness for contradicting and arguing; and he revealed to him all that the Angel of the Lord had said to him.

* This excerpt is from “Early Fathers from the Philokalia” translated by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H Palmer

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