A Life in Prayer
Words from Matta El Meskeen
The Life of Matta El Meskeen (1919-2006)
Matta, later tonsured with the name of Fr. Matthew, was a key figure in the revival of Egyptian monasticism in the twentieth century. He was a theologian, and author of 181 books on biblical exegesis, liturgy, and spiritual matters. In 1948, he embarked on a life of solitude, pursuing silence and pray before all else. He writes, “Renunciation of the world and its possessions had been my greatest concern. I thus left the world without keeping the least connection with it. My belongs were nothing more than a Bible, a copy of St. Isaac the Syrian, and some empty notebooks…Prayer was now the only profession of my life…Prayer become now my only anchor” (10).
Rest in Thee
“Whenever physical hunger turned cruel against me, I found my gratification in prayer. Whenever the biting cold of winter was unkind to me, I found my warmth in prayer. Whenever people were harsh to me…I found my comfort in prayer. In short, prayer became my food and my drink, my outfit and my armor, whether by night or by day.”
Why this Book?
“The world now thirsts to see living faith in the person of Jesus Christ; not simply to hear about it, but to live it. So many books tell about Christ; so many preachers speak about Christ; but so few people live and speak with Christ. The Church cannot live on principles of faith to be studied. Faith in Christ is not a theory. It is a power that changes lives. Everyone in Christ should have this power. One must be able to change one’s own life and renew it through the power of Christ. But our faith in Christ will ever remain powerless until we meet him face to face within ourselves” (13).
Fervent prayer brings day-to-day change
“Prayer is spiritual contact with God. God’s purpose in urging us to pray without growing weary is that prayer progressively brings about an essential day-by-day change in us. Prayer must be made with constant zeal in order that we should be changed into something higher than our nature…This is what summons us to more pleading and urgency until our prayer is answered” (14).
Prayer is the End in Itself
“Prayer is the most powerful effective spiritual work and has its own spontaneous reward without the evidence of feelings. Prayer could not have an end or an aim higher than itself. It is the highest aim of the highest work” (15).
The journey of prayer brings you from death to life
“The experience of prayer is not all delight, nor power, nor tangible gain. To reach maturity under God’s hand, man has to undergo countless stages of purifying and discipline. God puts to death to bring back to life; he breaks to bind up, wounds to heal, smites to embrace, and banishes to restore to his bosom…He who enters into a covenant of prayer with the Father in the name of Christ has first to consign himself to ‘Chastisement Kindergarten,’ then to ‘Suffering Primary School,’ then to the ‘Higher Institute of Affliction,’ ‘For it was fitting that he…should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering’ (Heb. 2.10). For it is impossible to share his glory without first sharing with him in his sufferings” (17).
We must enter the room of prayer for God, ourselves, and the world.
“We have thus no choice but to enter the inner room of prayer, not to isolate ourselves from the perishing world, thus escaping destruction and saving ourselves, but to attack the destruction that is in the world and redeem it...The arrival of any soul at the kingdom of God is a gain for the world in a mystical way. A trodden way is easy to walk along; and people of prayer are firm landmarks that shine along the way for ever more” (18).