Prayer the Hardest Work

by Scott D. Hendricks

9. The brethren also asked him, ‘Amongst all good works, which is the virtue which requires the greatest effort?’ He answered, ‘Forgive me, but I think there is no labour greater than that of prayer to God. For every time a man wants to pray, his enemies, the demons, want to prevent him, for they know that it is only by turning him from prayer that they can hinder his journey. Whatever good work a man undertakes, if he perseveres in it, he will attain rest. But prayer is warfare to the last breath.’

~ Abba Agathon

from The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

Benedicta Ward, trans., The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: the alphabetical collection (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1975), 21-22.