Church Fathers, Day Fifty-Two: St. John Chrysostom says expect Satan’s attack

st_john_chrysostom_1Expect Satan’s attack when you pray

Satan knows how much we gain by praying, says St. John Chrysostom, so that’s when he attacks us the most. We need to be on our guard and not let in the stray thoughts the devil suggests.

We talked yesterday about the power of prayer. I pointed out how the devil, that deceiver, lies in wait when we pray. For he sees how much we gain from prayer, so that’s when he attacks us the most, to break down our defenses and send us home empty-handed.

Earnest prayer is a light to the understanding and the soul—an inextinguish­able and perpetual light. For that reason, he throws countless trash-heaps of ideas into our minds, things we would never have imagined, putting them all together at the very moment when we’re praying and raining them down on our souls. Just as a wind rushing in from the opposite direction will put out the flame of a lamp as it’s being lighted, the devil, when he sees us lighting the flame of prayer, blows on it from every direction with gusts of countless thoughts, and doesn’t stop until he has put out the light.

But we should do just what you do when you’re lighting a lamp. What do you do? You put your finger over the hole in the lamp and keep the wind out. As long as the devil attacks from outside, we can stand up to him. But if we have opened the doors of our minds to him, and let the Enemy in, then we can’t hold him off even a little bit. He puts out our memory on all sides, and then, like a smoking lamp, we speak only empty words.

St. John Chrysostom, Homily Against Publishing the Errors of the Brethren, 5


When I pray, is my mind really concentrated on the prayer, or do I allow myself to be distracted?


Father, I put all my faith in your saving help. Protect me from the violence of the Enemy, and keep me safe from Satan’s attacks.

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