Elijah: Prophet of Prayer

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Elijah is the Prophet of Prayer and whenever the word of prophecy opens the eye of the heart to pure prayer, the sacred tradition of Elijah is renewed.   The uncreated fire that consumes all that confuses us with God also cures all that separates us from God, because dissipation is determined by demonic division which hallowing communion alone can heal.  The Prophet of Prayer communicates uncreated energy wherever he turns and sees, emptying the seven hells of their power to confuse, uniting what hells divide.   Known in some ancient circles as the Green Man, the prophet renews sacred tradition by awakening the heart to pure prayer of the Holy Spirit in the midst, transforming divisive hells into transfigured, hallowing heavens.  When Elijah breaks bread with those who welcome his hallowing companionship, hearts turn and spirits ascend with him in his chariot throne, his wheels within wheels which Ezekiel saw as angelic ofanim and Isaiah had seen as winged, burning seraphim.  

There is no end to the renewing power of the Prophet of Prayer or to the catalytic energy of Elijah as he comes to regenerate tradition so that prophecy awakens spiritual prayer and the day of the Name dawns.  The uncreated energy of this awakening grace gives life to the dead bones of conventional religion and gently leads obsession with verbal prayers from its addiction to literal externals into the mysteries of the Spirit’s prayer in the heart, called prayer of the heart.  But the legacy of Elijah is often misunderstood, and the wisdom of stillness overlooked in circles that cling to the letter rather than the spirit of tradition.  In such circles, verbal prayer is the only prayer there is and the function of religion is to foster social cohesion, not to awaken hearts to the mysteries of glory.

Orthodox Hesychasm has often been reproached in conventional circles for its willingness to listen to Elijah and to the sons of the prophets who inspired the apostles, elders and saints, all of whom received the grace of prayer of the heart.  Wise stillness is often perceived as neglect of the duties of verbal prayer whereas elders introduced regimes of verbal prayer in times of degeneration when prayer of the heart was falling away, giving support that was designed to foster and restore the prayer of the heart among the saints.  When this is not understood, addiction to verbal prayer can sometimes usurp prayer in the spirit by imposing literal repetition of set verbal prayers, quenching the spirit and starving the heart.  Such misunderstanding can sometimes lead to the imposition of regimes of verbal prayer and external social interaction that can destroy monastic life, but this need not happen if the prophetic word is held in healthy balance with the spirit of pure prayer.

Until the eye of the heart awakens, verbal prayer can provide much needed support and so has always had a provisional place in the sacred order of the Church.  In large monasteries, the typikon of set verbal prayers offers this support for all but does not quench the spirit in those who are overwhelmed by the Spirit praying in their hearts.  There is in principle no division between the letter and the spirit but a living flow from the outer into inner realisation of what the outer is really all about.  In Christ, there is union of word and spirit of such profound coherence that the word of prophecy is fulfilled by prayer in spirit and in truth.  The spiritual legacy of the Beloved Disciple bequeaths this healthy balance of word and spirit to the whole Church, imbibing the spirit of Elijah and the prophets to the apostles through the Fourth Gospel, the three Johannine Epistles and the Book of Revelation.  The inclusion of this legacy in the canon was decisive for the ecclesial foundation of Hesycahsm and sustains the prophecy of prayer in the Church to this day.  The Prophet of Prayer has never ceased to be heard by prophets and apostles, nor neglected by elders and saints, for Elijah not only gives unbroken sustenance to all who withdraw into the desert to purify the heart, but inspires prayer of the heart in all so that the whole Church is renewed and transformed.