Do not forsake prayer, for just as the body becomes weak when it is deprived of food, so also the soul when it is deprived of prayer draws nigh to weakness and noetic death. Saint Gennadius of Constantinople.
Free will is the power of a deiform soul to direct itself by deliberate choice towards whatever it decides. Let us make sure that our soul directs itself deliberately only towards what is good, so that we always consume our remembrance of evil with good thoughts.
St. Diadochos of Photiki
Prayer is the breathing of the soul, just as air is the natural breathing of the body. We
breathe by the Holy Ghost. You cannot say a single word of prayer with the whole heart
without the help of the Holy Ghost. When praying, you are conversing, mouth to mouth,
with the Lord; and if the mouth of your heart is open by faith and love, then it is as though you breathed into yourself, from Him, the spiritual blessings you ask for by the Holy Ghost.
St. John of Kronstadt
Abba Moses said: “Strength, for a person who desires to acquire virtues, consists in not losing heart when he happens to fall, but in continuing once more upon his way. Not to fall is characteristic only of Angels.”
If you are leading an ascetic life and struggling against the enemy, (which we should all be. -Fr. P) should you notice the demons weakening their warfare or even retreating, do not rejoice in your heart that the evil spirits are now behind you, for they are preparing a battle that is worse than the first. They are moving behind the city and ordering their troops to be still. If you oppose them by attacking them, they run away from you, feigning weakness. Then if your soul feels proud that it has chased them away and you abandon the city, some of them appear from behind while others attack from the front, thereby leaving the poor soul surrounded and with nowhere to escape.
Now the city in this case is the act of surrendering oneself before God with one’s whole heart, for He will save you from all the attacks of the enemy. If you pray to God about a particular struggle in order for Him to remove it from you, and He does not hear you, do not lose heart, for He knows better than you what is of benefit to you. If you pray to God generally in the time of spiritual warfare, do not say ‘Take this from me’ or ‘Give me this’, but pray as follows: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, hep me and do not allow me to sin before you, for I am deceived. Do not let me follow my own will. Do not let me become lost in my sins. Have compassion of your creature. Do not overlook me, for I am weak. Do not abandon me, for I have sought refuge with you. Heal my soul, for I have sinned against you. All those who trouble me are before you, and I have no other refuge but you, Lord. Save me, Lord, on account of your mercy. Let all those who have risen against me be put to shame, for they seek to destroy my soul. For you, Lord, are mighty in all things and through you is glory given to God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Amen.’
Then your conscience will speak in secret with your heart as to the reason why God is not listening to you. Your duty is not to feel contempt, but simply to do what He commands, for it is impossible for God not to hear you unless you, first, disobey Him. He is not far from us, but our desires prevent Him from listening to us. Therefore, let no one deceive you. Just as the earth cannot be fruitful without seed and irrigation, so, also, it is impossible for us to be spiritually fruitful without ascetic discipline and humility.
Abba Isaiah of Scetis, Ascetic Discourses
If someone says “I weep over my sins”, but commits another, he is foolish. If he says “I weep over my sins”, but keeps another (sin), he is deceiving himself. The person who searches for quietness, but does not take care to remove the passions, is blind to the holy building of the virtues. The one who ignores his sins but is anxious to correct another is lazy in his requests of the heart and his exhortations to God.
Abba Isaiah of Scetis
We who ourselves used to have pleasure in impure things now cling to chastity alone. We who dabbled in the arts of magic now consecrate ourselves to the good and unbegotten God. We who formerly treasured money and possessions more than anything else now hand over everything we have to a treasury for all and share it with everyone who needs it. We who formerly hated and murdered one another and did not even share our hearth with those of a different tribe because of their customs, now, after Christ’s appearance, live together and share the same table. Now we pray for our enemies and try to win those who hate us unjustly so that they too may live in accordance with Christ’s wonderful teachings, that they too may enter into the expectation, that they too may receive the same good things that we will receive from God, the Ruler of the universe.
St. Justin the Marty, First Apology