Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: anonymous

“A brother who had quarreled with a certain other brother went to his neighbor, an elder, and confessed to him: “Such and such a brother, Father, greatly embittered me and the thought of seeking revenge plagues me.”

“Lock yourself in your cell, brother, and do not cease, day or night, to pray for him. Only in this way will you be released from the passion that seethes in you,” the elder advised him.

“The brother obeyed and, within one week, he found peace in his soul.”

We all can relate to the experience of this brother who is just so angry, he wants revenge.  In other words, he wants to respond to the violence done to him with another act of violence. Which would have the inevitable result of only creating additional acts of violence.

The elder wisely advises the brother to go to his cell and pray for the one who so angered the brother.  It is hard to pray for someone with whom one is furious.  That has been my experience.  Has it been yours?

What has also been my experience is that while my prayers may have no effect whatsoever on the other person, those prayers change me.

Which leads me to one of my cherished convictions about prayer.  Even if we pray to God to give us stuff we desperately need, the act of prayer changes our relationship with that for which we pray. Prayer changes us.  The more we allow prayer to change us, the closer we come to realizing within ourselves the person God had in mind when God created us.


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