Up to a certain point, our salvation depends on us. It is up to us to say “yes” to Christ, so that He will have the right to enter into our lives and bring about our resurrection. But because man has been given the gift of freedom, he must repeatedly affirm and provide proof of his complete and voluntary bondage to Christ. God will not agree to take captive a heart that has not suffered, wept, and been broken. He seeks only the heart that is broken and humbled (Psalm 50:17), for such a heart shows that it lives for nothing else but divine captivity.
From the moment we give God the right to enter our lives; His grace and power begin to operate, granting us divine knowledge grounded in experience. Not that God’s grace was ever absent: it has been with us since baptism, but it was active in proportion to our voluntary death, to our spiritual labors, and to the extent that we are prepared to accept God.
Having voluntarily emptied ourselves (Philippians 2:7), we need to demonstrate our desire, our longing, if we wish to enter the place of God’s grace and power. The first thing that God asks of us is that we should manifest our desire through all prayer (Ephesians 6:18). This does not mean that we should make use of and endless variety of different prayers, because that would be something earthly. Instead, it means that, in the end, our entire life should become a prayer, so that we “breathe Christ always.” Thus it is not a question of reciting this or that prayer, but rather that everything within us should become a prayer, that we should be praying in everything, through all prayer. Prayer is the assimilation of the intellect to God, the transformation of the intellect into God’s chariot (Psalm 67:17; Ezekiel 23:24). Just as it is the proper function of my eyes to see, of my hands to feel, of my mouth to speak and sing to the Lord, so too the proper and primary purpose of the intellect is to pray.
But there is more, for Saint Paul does not simply say through all prayer; but through all prayer and supplication (Ephesians 6:18). I make supplication to someone when I feel a deep need, when I feel that I am deprived, naked, persecuted, wounded, stripped of everything it is then that I turn to someone and seek help, assistance, and refuge. Thus, through all supplication means that I have to recognize my utterly miserable condition, my state of hopeless, inner disarray; that I feel naked of God’s grace and deprived of His power; that I am not accomplishing works of power (Galatians 3:5; Ephesians 3:7), because the grace of God does not find a place through which to enter into me and do what it wills. It wants to slap me, embrace me, blind me, and destroy me: to do whatever it wants. But for that to happen, I have to become a perfect instrument in the hands of divine grace.
We can also seek God’s grace and power by means of fasting. Fasting is a concrete, visible sign that separates us from all that is earthly, fallen, and demonic. Any slackening of the conscience, however slight, with respect to fasting, introduces an unhealthy relaxation into our entire being-body and soul- so that God is not able to speak to the heart of a person who does not fast. Fasting drives away demons. Fasting attracts the angels. Fasting makes the material spiritual. But fasting also requires complete attention and focus, for it places us in a state of heightened expectation. It means that now I live waiting for God, expecting Him in earnest, with patience, through all afflictions, with an empty stomach, an empty intellect, and an empty heart, knowing that they will all be filled by God.