Sunday, April 19, 2015
Once there was a prayer leader who was constantly engaged in prayer, songs and praise to God. He lived far from any inhabited area, but he would regularly visit the towns and villages. He would enter the home of somebody - usually a poor person or someone of little status - and talk to him heart to heart about the purpose of this world. For the truth is that there is no other purpose in life than to devote ourselves to serving God every day and to spend our time in prayer, songs and praises to God.
The prayer leader would speak to the person very inspiringly for a long time, until his words enter ed his ears and the person agree d to join him. As soon as he was willing, the prayer leader would take him to his chosen place far away from the city. It had a flowing river and trees and fruits. They lived off the fruit. As for clothing, the prayer leader didn't mind what they wore.
He would regularly go into the city to persuade people to serve God and follow his path of prayer. He would take whoever was willing to follow him to his place outside the city, and there they engaged in nothing but prayer, songs and praises to God, confessions, fasting, self-discipline and repentance. He would give them books he had on these subjects.
They continued following these practices until some of the people he had brought there were also fit to draw others to serve God. Eventually he would give one or two permission to go into the city to bring people closer to God.
The prayer leader was constantly busy drawing people closer and taking them from the city. He began to make an impact and the matter became public knowledge. Suddenly people started noticing that someone or other had gone missing from the city and no-one knew where they were. Somebody's son or the like would go missing and no-one knew where they were. Until it became known that a prayer leader was going around persuading people to devote themselves to serving God.
However, it was impossible to recognize or catch him, because this prayer leader acted very cleverly. He used to change the way he looked, and he would appear to each person differently. To one he looked like a poor man, to another like a merchant, and to someone else he would appear in a different guise.
Sometimes, when speaking with people, he saw that he could not succeed in his purpose . He would intentionally mislead them so they would not understand his real goal. The truth was that his only intention was to bring people to God. But if he saw he was accomplishing nothing with someone, he would steer the conversation in a different direction, making it impossible for the person to understand his real intention.
The Prayer Leader was making an impact and people were on the lookout for him, but it was impossible to catch him. He and his men lived far away from any human habitation, engaged in nothing but prayer, songs and praises to God, confessions, self-discipline and repentance.
This Prayer Leader had the ability to provide each one with what he needed. If he saw that one of his men thought he needed to serve God wearing golden clothes, he would provide him with them. Conversely he would sometimes attract a wealthy person and take him away from civilization, and he understood that this rich man needed to go about in cheap, torn clothing. He would lead each one according to what he knew he needed.
In the eyes of the people he brought to God, a fast or a great penance was more precious than all the pleasures in the world. They had more pleasure from fasting and repentance than all the pleasures in the world.