Often we ask ourselves, ‘If Christ Himself said that our prayers will be answered ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened’ (Matthew 7:7-8), why is that my prayers for help in my daily struggle remain unanswered? Perhaps the answer to this question is provided by the following account and saying from the desert fathers.
An ascetic Elder said that in Sketis there lived a monk. He performed with perfection and exactitude his prayers and services. He was, however, negligent in the rest of his duties. Now, one day Satan appeared to one of the Elders and said to him sarcastically: ‘You want to know something strange? There is a certain monk who keeps me under his arm, so that I cannot flee from him and so that I can do all that I wish. Nonetheless, at every hour he says to God, “Lord deliver me from the Evil One.” ’
Abba Moses said: ‘If what one does is not in agreement with one’s prayer, then one labours in vain.’ One of those who heard him say this asked: ‘What is meant by agreement between action (practice) and prayer?’
The Elder answered: ‘To succeed is to no longer do that from which we pray to God for deliverance. When a person abandons his will, then God converses with him and accepts his prayer.’