We are living in favourable times: we can go to church and take communion without the risk of being shot to death or thrown into jail. In spite of that, the inner struggle increases. We attempt to defeat the sin inside us but it pushes back. It's hard to say whether the struggle inside is better than pressure from the outside. Anyway, God will never abandon us if we put our hopes on him.
We often expect to defeat the sin by sheer willpower, and we sometimes even succeed for a while. However, a person who relies on his or her own strength will lose the battle. When you read biographies of saints, you see them struggling with sin for decades on end, day after day. The steps that they used to take were tiny but at least, they were invariably moving forward. Of course, they had their own failures, too; God who is able to see a person's heart sees something we cannot recognise. We see a sinner and condemn him or her. For instance, he keeps smiling and having a good time but we are at a loss: we saw him commit a sin why doesn't he weep for it? What we don't know is that he repented a while ago.
There was a young novice who came to a monastery. He was just an ordinary guy, at least as far as observers could tell from his outward appearance. After he died, the monks of that monastery saw him in a dream. He was shiny and elated. They were surprised: How could that be? It turned out that he had never judged anyone in his entire life. Each person has his or her own measure to shoot for.
Sin is when we are away from God. As soon as we call upon God and begin to repent, the broken connection is restored, and the sin is devoid of its power. It has no place in the hearts of those who stay with God and take communion, thus accepting him into their hearts.
How not to lose the connection with God and not to break that union? You've got to work hard but it'll make you happy. Some people recite the Jesus Prayer, while others just think about God. As long as you keep reconnecting with God in your thoughts, it's your prayer. While we think about him, we are with him. As soon as we go away from him, we lose the connection. Of course, there are so many times in our lives when we lose that connection. In spite of that, the Lord has given us the opportunity to come and say sorry and accept him in our hearts again, to be filled with him and move on towards the Light, step by step. Of course, we're in for quite a few storms and downfalls but we'll win if we stay true to him.
Christ rose from the dead and showed us the entry into the Kingdom of Heaven: a road of love, which He grants to all in abundance and which He teaches us to share, preserve, and be grateful for all things.
Priest Valery Zakharov