Saint Serafim of Sarov was born in 1794. His teachings, life and works presaged have inspired many of the Orthodox faithful and laid the foundation of the Great Russian Religious Revival of the 19th century, as represented by St. Filaret of Moscow, St. John of Kronshdadt, St. Theophan the Recluse, and many other prominent names. The teachings of Saint Serafim addressed the central question of the meaning of life. He challenged the common understanding of those days that a good life just meant doing good deeds as being premised on the idea of seeking 'paradise on earth'. Instead, he argued that God's kingdom was not of this world, and we can only be fulfilled by seeking unity with God and by acquiring the Holy Spirit. Saint Seraphim wrote: "The Holy Spirit must enter our heart. Everything good that we do, that we do for Christ, is given to us by the Holy Spirit, but prayer most of all, which is always available to us."
He showed his entire life as a monastic, ascetic and hermit that this was not some abstract philosophical belief, but a practical way of living. In 1793, St. Seraphim was ordained a hieromonk, after which he served every day and received Eucharist for a year. St. Seraphim then began to withdraw into his "farther hermitage"—the forest wilderness about five km from Sarov Monastery. Wild animals—bears, rabbits, wolves, foxes and others—came to the hut of the ascetic. The eldress, of the Diveevo monastery, Matrona Plescheeva, witnessed how St. Seraphim fed a bear that had come to him out of his hand: "The face of the great starets was particularly miraculous. It was joyous and bright, like that of an angel," she described.
One notable legacy of St. Serafim is the practice of the incessant prayer at heart. He described it as follows: "Those who have truly decided to serve the Lord God should practise the remembrance of God and uninterrupted prayer to Jesus Christ, mentally saying: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."