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Coptic Orthodox Church
edited December 1969
At times i don't feel like praying. I feel spiritually empty. HAs any of u ever felt this way?
How can I get back into the "mood" and feeling of prayer.
pray 4 me
Read the Bible or some other spiritual writing. When I'm suffering from spiritual dryness I'll usually read some writings by monks such as the letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast or my book on the sayings of the Optina Elders. Those are not Oriental Orthodox books but Eastern Orthodox but they are really good. Find a book like those that inspire you and light the flame inside of you so that you will want to rush to prayer. Also, pray to God to help you out of this spiritual dryness and when He sees your struggle, He will send His grace and you will feel better.
Some sayings from the book
Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Optina Elders
that may help. These Elders lived in the Optina Monastery in Russia and in the 19th century there were quite a few holy Elders who shone forth from that holy place who played a large part in the monastic renewal in Russia. Fourteen of the Elders from that time were canonized by the Church of Russia.
"Enough of this childish faintheartedness: a serious matter is at hand-concerning your soul, concerning the eternal Kingdom, which your enemy, the devil, has lost. All the Heavenly Powers watch how you struggle with the prince of this world, and they implore the Almighty to help you. Yes, He will help, only do not despair! The Lord is near!" - St. Anatoly
"Without divine help, we are not in a condition to pray on our own; we cannot pray as we should and we do not know how and for what to pray." - St. Nikon
"Do not forget prayer-it is the life of the soul." St. Nikon
"It is good to pray while standing before the crucifixion, recalling the sufferings of the Savior: the spitting upon, the slapping, the mocking, the beating. The spirit is humbled in this way." St. Ambrose
"In the struggle of prayer, it is absolutely necessary to force oneself, and compel oneself to pray." St. Barsanuphius
"When melancholy attacks you, read the Gospel." - St. Ambrose
above all the thing that I've found to be most useful is guidance from a spiritual father or father of confession. Sit with him and set a bare minimum "amount" that you should pray daily - this will solve SOME of the problem (i.e. keeping to the discipline and praying even when you feel like you don't want to)
Secondly, don't be discouraged by the spiritual dryness - it does happen! Many of us find excuses not to pray when we don't feel sincere - "oh what's the point of praying if I'm so spiritually dry at the moment that it won't be sincere?" NO! Even a routine in itself can be cleansing; remember the story of the young monk and the basket! (If you don't know this story, I'll post it later). Compel yourself to pray, even if you don't feel it.
Listening to some moving hymns or spiritual songs is a good way to "get yourself in the mood". Music is a very powerful way to touch the heart, which is why we utilise this by singing the whole liturgy in the Coptic church. Singing your prayer or singing Psalms may help too.
A little tip a priest gave me once was to spend some quiet time facing an icon and meditating on a small verse in candlelight. I find that, practically, praying in low light helps me to open my heart much more. There are lots of sermons online that you could listen to as well to prepare yourself for prayer, also lots of videos of the lives of saints.
Use all these means and see what works, but above all - FATHER OF CONFESSION
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