St. Ignatius Brianchaninov on Prayer

Do not delight in visible nature; do not contemplate its beauty; do not waste precious time and your inner strength acquiring the knowledge given by human sciences. Use your strength and time to acquire prayer, serving God in the depths of your inner cell. There, inside yourself, prayer will reveal such a vista that will absorb all your attention; prayer will give you knowledge that the world itself will not be able to fit, the existence of which it does not even have the slightest idea.

The feelings that arise from prayer and repentance consist of a clean conscience, a calm soul, peace with all your near ones and contentment with the circumstances of life, mercy and cosuffering toward all men, abstinence from all passions, coldness toward the world, submission to God, and strength during the fight with sinful thoughts and inclinations. With such feelings, in which one can foretaste salvation, you should be content. Do not seek exalted spiritual states or prayerful ecstasy before their time. They are not as you imagine them to be—the activity of the Holy Spirit, who gives high states of prayer, is not comprehensible to a worldly mind.

Bring to God quiet and humble prayers, not fiery and passionate ones. When you will become a mystical priest serving at the altar of prayer, then you will be able to enter God’s sanctuary, and from there you will fill the censer of prayer with divine fire. Impure fire—the blind, fleshly warmth of the blood—is forbidden as an offering to the all-holy God.

Do not search for exalted experiences in prayer—they are not proper to a sinner. Even the desire of a sinner to feel exalted is already delusion.