It is nothing less than blasphemy, says St. Ephrem the Syrian, if you pray while you’re angry with your neighbor.
This is the first commandment: that you should love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul, and with your strength as much as you are able.
The sign that you love God is this: that you love your neighbor. If you hate your neighbor, your hatred is really for God.
It is blasphemy if you pray to God while you are angry. For your heart also convicts you that you multiply words in vain. Your conscience rightly judges that your prayers do you no good.
Christ, as he hung on the height of the tree, interceded for his murderers. But you, who are dust, born of the clay—rage fills you whenever you like! You keep anger against your brother, and yet you dare to pray? Even the person standing right beside you, though he is not neighbor to your sins, the stain of your sin reaches out to him, and his petition is not heard.
Leave off anger and then pray. Unless you would provoke further, restrain your anger, and then supplicate.
–St. Ephrem the Syrian, Homily on Admonition and Repentance, 4
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Is anger still lurking in my heart when I try to pray?
Have I tried praying for the person I’ve been angry with?
Lord, let me live the peace I proclaim to others, and unite me in heart and mind to all my brothers and sisters.
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