Time is short, and it is unknown when it will expire. Therefore, let us struggle and be careful and expel every evil thought with anger and fervent prayer. And if we shed tears we shall benefit greatly, for tears cleanse the soul and make it whiter than snow. Let us stand ready for battle courageously, for we wrestle against the powers of darkness, which never make allies and never lessen their attacks. Therefore, let us also rouse ourselves and not be drowsy, for our eternal life is at stake. If we lose the victory, we have lost our soul, have utterly lost eternal rest and joy in God, and have condemned ourselves to the second death, which is eternal separation from God—may this not come to pass.
While practicing watchfulness, let us be vigilant with thoughts. We fall into sin because of our thoughts. So let us fight powerfully against our thoughts and not allow thoughts to become strong within us due to our negligence, but as soon as they arrive let us drive away the fantasy and with anger seize the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God—that is, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me”. So as we call on the sweet Jesus, He immediately rushes to help us and the demons flee at once. We must not, however, say the prayer negligently, but with a fervent spirit cry out from the depths, “Master, save me, I am perishing!” (Lk. 8:24 ).
The struggle to ward off thoughts in the beginning is small. If, however, we allow the thoughts to become stronger, then the struggle becomes difficult, and often we are defeated and wounded as well. But when we arise and cry out, the good captain Jesus comes again and steers our boat to the calm and peaceful harbor. It is in our thoughts that we either suffer damage and are defiled, or progress and become better. For this reason let us place our nous—that is, our attention—in our heart as a brave guard, armed with courage, the prayer, silence, and self-reproach.
If we struggle in this manner, the outcome will be sweet peace, joy, purity, spiritual philosophy, and the prayer, which as a most fragrant incense will cense the temple of God, the inner man. “Do you know”, says the Apostle Paul, “that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16 ). I write these things in order to rouse your souls to spiritual vigilance, so that you may find the inner peace of God and rejoice. Amen; so be it.
Elder Ephraim of Arizona