Weeping for sins

edited December 1969 in Faith Issues
God bless you all. I pray you are having a blessed Lent.

Today in my church is the Sunday of St John of the Ladder. The Bishop preached about something he said that often has me thinking. He said we will not be judged on the miracles we have not performed but whether we have wept for our sins.

I have never been close to weeping for my sins, although I aknowledge myself as a sinner. I believe tears is a gift that I pray for only when I am reminded of their importance.

So what do you say? Is the absence of tears enough to jeopardise are salvation? If so how do we work with the Lord on this one and walk the path of genuine, heartfelt contrition?

Please pray for me to receive the gift of sorrow.


  • hi aidan,
    thanks for raising this subject. i think it's easy for us to worry about whether we have repented sincerely if we are not crying like in the films of saints. however, God knows out hearts even better than we do and He does not need a show of emotion to convince Him that we are sincere.
    if you are lacking in tears, ask God to show you how much He loves you. look at creation and the smiles of your friends  :)
    and then spend time in prayer. 'be still and know' that He is God. then you may cry.
  • absence of tears will definitely NOT jeopardize our salvation BUT the absence of true repentance will definitely

    it the tears come they do if they don't they don't

    there are many examples in the Bible of people who wept like Peter, the woman who wept at Jesus' feet, and David who writes in the psalms "I drench my couch with tears"; however, if you don't weep, that doesn't mean that your repentance is not accepted or not deep enough and will jeopardize your salvation.

    I think
  • Tears are gift from God. Buddy, persist and persist in your prayer. You will one day find yourself on your knees, with your head sunken, and your strength defeated, feeling like you are Israel between the red sea, vicious Egyptians, desert and a rocky mountain. You will be trapped- and you will experience a miracle- really God will grant you an escape that you could never have thought of- and all the glory will be His. You will cry out to God most High; and you will cry. Trust me. Just persist- pray for poverty of spirit, every prayer you pray, and you will find God will lead you there- either with something as obvious as a pillar of cloud, or life circumstances. Just persist. It is such a blessing- because when you are there- man, your mourning turns into comfort in the Lord, only by the grace of God.
  • There's definitely a place for tears in repentance.

    I, like Aidin am not sure though whether tears are a milestone in your relationship with God. If you don't cry, does that mean, you're not close to Him.

    The only time, I ever cried in prayer, was because I felt I was being overtaken by sin, and that was a low in my spirituality. So, does crying come as part of the package  ???
  • Just remind me of “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” Matthew 5:4. How hard must it be to mourn, tears :'(  or no tears :(.
    St. John of the ladder (c 525) discusses mourning in detail in his book The Ladder of Divine Ascent. Interesting to read.
    In Christ
  • [quote author=Theophilus 1 link=topic=7778.msg101769#msg101769 date=1239586119]
    Just remind me of “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” Matthew 5:4. How hard must it be to mourn, tears :'(  or no tears :(.
    St. John of the ladder (c 525) discusses mourning in detail in his book The Ladder of Divine Ascent. Interesting to read.
    In Christ

    Do you know where to get this book??
  • Here is a link: http://books.google.com/books?id=HiTaxR0EU2MC&dq=The+Ladder+of+Divine+Ascent+book

    In Christ
  • Tears... an interesting subject...

    I do not mean to exalt myself (God forbid, let all the glory be his), but if I don't cry in my prayer I always feel as if I haven't prayed fervently enough. That is to say, if I do not cry, I feel as if my spirit has not repented fully. However, that is because I am a very emotional person (maybe even excessively emotional), and my tears are very close. Do I have a twin out here?
  • i am only a cousin in this respect...
    but, seriously, women tend to show more emotion (not to feel more emotion) and north africans are also emotional types. british people are particularly bad at it (except me, maybe i should check out my family tree again!) and japanese are not great either.
    makes me think, can you imagine people of european descent ululating in the resurrection mass?
    no, i can't either  ;)
    so i think as long as your heart is crying when you repent, this is what matters most.
  • Hmm well that's interesting... However the excess emotion certainly helps lots in prayer. I wonder...
  • [quote author=the_least link=topic=7778.msg101389#msg101389 date=1238371172]
    absence of tears will definitely NOT jeopardize our salvation BUT the absence of true repentance will definitely

    it the tears come they do if they don't they don't

    I believe crying for previous committed sins isn't an easy thing since most sins committed are usually part of daily life. I think the most important part is realizing that after true repentance that you'll actually start repenting the sin and slowly you'll find it very difficult to commit. Now depending on what kind of person you are (sensitive or not) after the fact of realizing how much the sin hurts your spiritual growth, you'll cry because you're upset on how much you went far with it and how many times you've done it.

    I think my thought goes with what you said in this reply.

  • There is a great chapter on tears in prayer in Orthodox Prayer Life by Abouna Matta el Meskeen

    Father Petre
  • Father Peter,

    Should that chapter be read with much discretion or is it free from theological/dogmatic/spiritual errors?
    Also, where can I find an English translation?
  • Orthodox Prayer Life can be purchased here:

    Ladder of Divine Ascent:

    P.S. This site is run by the Coptic Orthodox Church of Washington D.C.-- it's safe to buy from it, I have before.
    (same church that does orthodoxsermons.org)

    On the topic, I don't think tears are a must. I think that at some point in your relationship with God, they should come, particularly when you repent for the first time or when you truly feel that you are ensnared by sin and want to change your life. Then I think it is a must. But if you're not regularly crying, I don't think (this is my opinion) that this is bad. I think that if you cry everyday, it almost might make it worth less. Some people (I've been in this group previously) hear the importance of tears and then might try to force them. This is not the way. Try to keep clsoe to God at all times. If the tears come, they come. If not, don't sweat it.
  • I've started to feel like you. In the very beginning of my true life with God, true and genuine tears were a normal part of my conversation with him. However, if they come it only means that my heart has been moved enough towards God where I am inclined to weep. However, I know that this differs from person to person, which is why I believe that God will never condemn anyone on the basis that they did not pray. However, I feel that a relationship with God should make the heart more sensitive, and thus the tears should come at one point or another in one's life with God.
  • Oh, and I thought that all Matta el Meskin's books were banned from Coptic bookstores. Can anyone verify that?
  • Thats not necessarily true since he himself was not excommunicated, As far as I know SOME of his doctrine was considered wrong but not all and like i said he was not excommunicated. I would for sure ask your FOC to be on the safe side whether you should read his works or not. He will know whether or not to recommend them for you.
  • He really says that as servants, we should be able to read anything with discretion.

    Besides, that wasn't really the issue for me- I have read many Eastern works which might also have some contrary belief to our faith. I was really just curious.
  • I don't have Arabic so I have only read those of Father Matta's books and booklets which are translated into English.

    I have never read anything in them which I considered error and have often given Orthodox Prayer Life to those who are seeking to learn about our Orthodox Faith.

    As you say, it is possible to read almost anything with discretion and find benefit in it, but I find the writings of Father Matta (those in English which I have read) entirely helpful. Many of his booklets are available for purchase in English from the St Macarious monastery website.

    Father Peter
  • Father Peter


    Christ is Risen

    Going off the track here, we seem to be talking about Fr Matta. I've just read (twice) The Titles of Christ. How did you find it? He says things that seem original from an Orthodox perspective but not from an Evangelical one (as far as I understand it) Like salvation being a done deal offered to us gratis. In other places he seems to say, for example, that the Kingdom of Heaven will not open to us if we are not gentle.

    Its a fantastically rich book. Could you, Father, or anyone else who has read it summarise some of his points.

    I guess the talk of him being a heretic or something has bothered me when trying to get to grips with what he is saying.

    Ignore this if the book is unfamiliar

    In Christ
  • Dear Aidan

    The Lord bless you.

    He is risen indeed.

    I haven't read that yet, but I will order it.

    I have read Orthodox Prayer Life, Communion of Love and lots of his smaller booklets.

    I find that he is very evangelical in the sense that he presents a simple Gospel that is good news and not an abstruse philosophy. In Orthodox Prayer Life he is writing a guide to prayer, a course for ordinary people to follow, and yet he leads ordinary people up to the heights of spirituality.

    There is a certain type of old fashioned evangelicalism which has much in common with Orthodoxy - it seems to me at least. I knew an old brother whose whole life was steeped in prayer and the Scriptures. He would ring me up, a young man about 50 years younger than he, and would share what he had found in the Scriptures that day. When he spoke it was always of the Scriptures, and with tears in his eyes.

    I think that authentic Orthodoxy requires a strong rootedness in the Scriptures, and a firm commitment to preaching a Gospel in which Christ is all and in all. When I read the Fathers I see that they were very evangelical in many ways, not least their knowledge of scripture. I see the danger for me is in knowing things about the Fathers and not knowing God as the Fathers themselves.

    Sorry, that doesn't answer your question. I will get the book and read it. I appreciate all that I have so far read by Father Matta.

    Father Peter
  • Whilst I await your reading of The Titles of Christ can you recommend The Orthodox Study Bible as a companion for ou journey (I guess your evangelical friend would have read the KJV) or have you discovered something better?

    Sincerely in Jesus
  • He was an old Plymouth Brother and may even have used the Darby version, which is good.

    I have found the Orthodox Study Bible useful, and used the Orthodox Study New Testament before that. Although I am not entirely happy with it. I am not sure what I am looking for. Perhaps I have some concerns that the OSB is not a fresh translation of the LXX? I have looked at the NETS version of the LXX which is available electronically online as well as for purchase.

    I guess that because I know the Scriptures so little I should worry less about the version (within limits) and should just concentrate on reading and praying the Scriptures as though every word really is 'inspired by God and profitable'.

    God bless

    Father Peter
  • i came across a verse that i think may be very beneficial to the topic of this forum. it is:

    For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)

    Therefore i think it's important that your heart is weeping and as for the tears on the outside, i don't think that it matters whether they exist or not.

    i haven't got a chance to read the Orthodox Prayer Life by Abouna Matta el Meskeen yet but i hope to when i get a chance. I don't think there is anything wrong in it because we sell it at our church and have published an excerpt from it in our church magazine.

    thanks and pray for me
  • hey i found this book called Tears in Spiritual Life by H.H. Pope Shenouda...i haven't read it yet but but from the title i can tell that it talks about this subject. Here it is:


  • About Fr. Matta, his books are sold at St. Macarius and I know many servants who love his book Orthodox Prayer Life.
  • [quote author=the_least link=topic=7778.msg102125#msg102125 date=1240370498]
    hey i found this book called Tears in Spiritual Life by H.H. Pope Shenouda...i haven't read it yet but but from the title i can tell that it talks about this subject. Here it is:


    That link is not working, can you please check it?
  • [quote author=Christ4Life link=topic=7778.msg102185#msg102185 date=1240448531]

    That link is not working, can you please check it?

    Here is the link:


    Then click on "tears in spritual life"
  • Thank you!
  • Hello my Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

    + Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! +

    It seems to me that we find ourselves in a time when things in the world must appear almost formulaic in order for us to trust in them; in basic scientific theory, for example, things are only to be truly trusted if they are found to be repeatably accurate. This does not necessarily carry over to all aspects of our Orthodoxy, nor should it. God has made us all with individual characteristics, though we are all made in His image and likeness. The realization of the likeness of God varies from person to person, but of course, has an unalienable foundation which must be maintained by all Orthodox Christians. Do I need to pray? You will say "of course!" But, concerning this topic, do I need to constantly, openly weep for my sins?

    Thank God that we are not always constantly aware of our sins nor of their gravity in their deterring us from our path towards God. If I were to be made aware of all of my sins, I'm sure that I would never cease in weeping... but is this beneficial to me? Indeed, if I knew the gravity of my actions as God knows them, perhaps (and this is a very likely case) I would fall into dejection and depression, I, the chief of among sinners. Does this then mean that my prayer is not acceptable before God, if I do not weep?

    There is a great book for those who are beginning to deepen their prayer life, and indeed, a book which remains useful to those who have progressed in their prayer life: "Beginning to Pray" by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom. I recommend that everyone beginning in their struggle for prayer obtain this book; you can often find it for only a few dollars, but it is extremely beneficial.

    Orthodox Prayer Life was mentioned earlier in this discussion, but I feel that it may be beyond most of us at this stage in our prayer life. Yes, there are several things that we can extract from the book that is of benefit to us, but there are also several topics discussed within the book which we can so easily say to ourselves that we can never reach, or that simply do not make sense to us spiritually at this point in our lives. Can you give a calculus book to a third grader and expect them to understand it? Sure, there are those which may, but they are quite rare.

    Living a life of prayer is one that takes a great deal of effort on our part, a submission of our will to God, and the grace of God working within our lives. Is it difficult? Yes, but fight the good fight. As I posted in another topic today, we find our strength in Christ.

    Is it necessary to weep for my sins each time I pray? Is it unacceptable if I don't? No. This topic is well addressed in "Beginning to Pray."

    Ask your father of confession for guidance in your spiritual life, your prayer life. May we all learn that it is not always in outward expressions that our hearts are revealed to God; truly, He sees all and knows what is in your heart.

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