Over the course of the last few months we have been considering what it is to be someone whose life is given over to prayer. We saw in our first study that the practice of prayer, and growth in the virtues and in holiness must go hand in hand. To pray does not excuse us from ascetic effort. There is no special form of words which will suddenly transform everything about us. The one who wishes to practice prayer must be committed to a life time of struggle against our own will, against the passions, against the influence of the world around us, and against the wiles and snares of Satan himself.
To begin to pray is to set our hand to the plough, and we will not create a straight and firm furrow in the soil of our heart if we keep turning backwards and looking to the life we have left behind. And we have seen that to pray does indeed require us to leave our old life behind. Abba Isaac teaches us that to pray requires us to put aside all thought of earthly things and to turn towards God with thankfulness and humble worship.