Standing Before the Lord

How should you order yourself inwardly so as to enjoy peace of soul? Secure for yourself inner solitude. But such solitude is not a mere vacuum nor can it be gained simply by creating complete emptiness in oneself. When you retreat into yourself, you should stand before the Lord, and remain in his presence, not letting the eyes of the mind turn away from the Lord. This is the true wilderness — to stand face to face with the Lord. This state of standing before the Lord is something that supports and maintains itself. To be with the Lord is the aim of our existence, and when we are with him we cannot fail to experience a feeling of well- being; this feeling naturally attracts our attention to itself, and through this, to the Lord from whom the feeling comes.

It is good to withdraw from distractions under the protection of four walls, but it is even better to withdraw into solitude within oneself. The first without the second is nothing, whereas the last is of the utmost value even without the first. It is an excellent thing to go to church, but if you can accustom yourself to pray at home as if in church, such prayer at home is equally valuable. Just as a man sees another face to face, try thus to stand before the Lord, so that your soul is face to face with him. This is something so natural that there should have been no need to mention it specially, for by its very nature the soul should strive always towards God. And the Lord is always near. There is no need to arrange an introduction between them, for they are old acquaintances.

— From the writings on prayer of Theophan the Recluse (1815-1894)



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