Elder Cleopa on Prayer

elder-cleopa-ilie1) – Oral prayer is the first step of prayer. When we pray with our tongue, mouth and lips, we are on the lowest step of prayer.

2) – The second step of prayer is Prayer of The Mind. At this stage we say the prayer with our mind and our entire attention is focused on the words of the prayer, but in the mind.

3) – The third step of prayer is Prayer of The Heart. At this stage of prayer, the mind descends into the heart and the mind and the heart are now united. The attention is now in the heart. The prayer that we say with our mouths, understand with our minds and feel in our hearts is spherical (cyclical) in the movement of our souls.

4) – The fourth step is Self-Moving Prayer. After a while, the prayer solidifies in the heart and the heart prays without saying the words of the prayer. As we eat, work, talk or sleep, the heart prays. This is what is said in The Song of Songs (5,2): “I sleep, but my heart is awake”. The one who finds oneself on this step has reached what Apostle Paul says in (1 Thessanoians 15,2): “pray without ceasing”. The heart of the Christian who has this prayer prays no matter where he is and what he does. When he speaks with people he mysteriously has another mouth that talks with God. This is the mouth of The Holy Spirit, as St. Basil The Great calls it. For The Holy Spirit when He dwells in a man, He never ceases to pray: “the Holy Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8, 26)

5) – The fifth step of prayer is Seeing Prayer. The one who reaches this prayer becomes a high seer of God. He can see with his mind the thoughts of people, the demons and the angels.

6) – The sixth step is Prayer in Ecstasy or Amazement. During this prayer, man’s mind is taken to Heaven. His face becomes like the sun and his hands and fingers like flames and his mind is no longer on earth, but in Heaven.

7) – The seventh step is Spiritual Prayer. The godly fathers call it spiritual vision and Kingdom of Heaven. This prayer is beyond the borders of prayer. It is oneness with God.  Apostle Paul says about this prayer that: “And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—  how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” (2 Corinthians 12, 3-4). At this stage the mind of man no longer works by its own power, but is taken by the power of The Holy Spirit into heavenly realms and can no longer think what itself wants.

(Exerpts from the teachings of Elder Ilie Cleopa  1912-1998)

h/t Romanian Orthodoxy in English


  1. I love reading about Orthodox prayer. Yet there seems for me to be such a wide chasm between where I am and reaching the goal. Is there a book/s you can recommend that will help the neophyte to grow in maturity with regard to prayer? I have been an Orthodox Christian for three years (Lazarus Saturday of this year). The manner in which I prayed previously as an Evangelical was quite different. I’ve had to leave behind many wrong ideas, i.e. – a Christians should pray their own prayers and not the prayers of anyone else. Now I have discovered that the prayers in the Orthodox prayer book lead me into prayer with a greater depth and longing. It is my soul’s desire to be a prayerful person at all times and in all places. – Peace to you, Father Peter!

    1. You could start with my book, info about that is on the blog page. There is also a little book called “A Beginner’s Guide to Prayer” by Michael Keiser.

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