Abba Isaac the Syrian: “Essay on sensations, in which temptations are also included”
If you happen to pray to God for a certain thing and are not heeded swiftly, do not be sorrowed; for you are not wiser than God. This happened to you, either because you are not worthy of acquiring your petition, or because the sentiments of your heart are not analogous to your petitions, or because you have not yet reached the appropriate measures, so that what you petitioned may be given to you – inasmuch as we must not ask ahead of time great measures for ourselves, lest God’s gift be degraded if received too quickly - a thing that is easily attained, is also easily lost; but whatever is acquired with pain in the heart is also guarded with the greatest attention.
Thirst for Christ, so that He might inebriate you with His love. Shun the pleasant things of the present life, so that you may be made worthy by God for peace to reign in your heart. Abstain from those things that your eyes see, so that you may be made worthy of spiritual joy.
If your works do not please God, then do not ask of Him glorious and great things, lest it appear that you are taunting Him; for your prayer and your petition must be in accordance with your conduct, because one cannot – as long as he is tied to things of the earth – ask for .things of the heavens, nor can one who is preoccupied with things of the world ask for divine things. Because each one’s desire can be discerned from within his works, and whatever things he shows interest in, for those he will struggle and pray. Besides, the one who wants and desires lofty things does not preoccupy himself with base things.
Become free, and show Christ the freedom of your obedience while still joined to the body.
Become prudent through your meekness, lest you be snatched by the demons.
Love humility in all your works, to free yourself from the hidden snares of the enemy, in which the supercilious stumble.
Do not avoid the tribulations and the sorrows, because it is through those that one arrives at the realization of the truth.
Do not fear the trials, for it is through them that you find what is most valuable.
Pray that you do not enter trials of the soul, but also prepare yourself with all your might against the body’s trials; because without trials, no-one can approach God, for divine repose is found inside trials, and whoever avoids trials, flees from virtue. By “trials” here, I mean not those of desires, but of tribulations.
Source: The Ascetic Words of Abba Isaac of Syria (book)
Republished from: http://www.oodegr.com/english/pateres/Handling_trials_Isaac_Syrian.htm