A single sigh for the pain of another is a heartfelt prayer

BESIDES everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.

Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

2 Corinthians 12:28-29.

Elder Paisios the Athonite

Elder Paisios the Athonite


— ELDER, how do you go about prayer on any given matter?

THE whole foundation on which prayer rests is that a man should feel pain.

If he does not feel pain, he can sit for hours with a prayer rope and his prayer will not have any result. If he feels pain for the matter about which he is praying, then even with a single sigh he makes a heartfelt prayer.

Lots of people, if they have no time at the moment when others ask them to pray for them, pray with a single sigh for their problem. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t pray, but, if it happens to be that they haven’t the time, a single sigh for the pain of another is a heartfelt prayer — equivalent to hours of prayer.

You read, for example, a letter, you see a problem, you sigh and afterwards you pray. This is a big thing! Before you pick up the handset, before you even make the call, God hears you! And the other person finds out. See how the possessed understand when I pray for them, and cry out wherever they may be.

Effective prayer starts with a pain: it is not gratification, “nirvana”. What pain is it? It is for a man to be tortured, in a good sense. He hurts, he groans, he suffers, when prays for whatever it may be.

You know what he will say he suffers? Yes, he suffers, because he shares in the general pain of the world, or in the pain of a particular person.

This sharing, this pain, God rewards with his divine exultation. Such a man of course doesn’t seek divine exultation, but the divine exultation comes as a consequence, because he has shared in the suffering of another.

Elder Paisios the Athonite. Original at Απόψεις για τη Μονή Βατοπαιδίου (και όχι μόνο). This is my amateur translation.

During the Greek civil war (1946-1949), Paisios acted as a radio operator. He employed the metaphor of radio communications more than once, for speaking about prayer.


MAY Lord keep thee: may the Lord be thy defence upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not scorch thee by day, nor the moon by night.

May the Lord keep thee from all evil: may the Lord keep thy soul.
May the Lord keep thy coming in and thy going out, from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Psalm 120(121):5-8. This translates the Greek liturgical text. See Analogion.


2 thoughts on “A single sigh for the pain of another is a heartfelt prayer

  1. I’ve been studying english for not much time but I can’t wait to be able to write you all my thoughts. I’m Romanian but I’m living in Italy. I descovered here what a desert souls of people become living religion as “law” but not “faith”. It’s all so artificial, theatrical and so vacuous.
    I love your blog. Thank you so much!

  2. Hi Mina, thanks so much for your comment! I’m delighted that you’ve enjoyed reading my blog. I understand completely what you mean about law and faith. I too have found the legal view very difficult, and Orthodox spirituality has been so much help to me. Thanks again.

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