Prayer and compassion can only be thought to be separate when we are mistaken about what prayer is.

This lovely story about the Desert Father, Abba Poemen, illustrates the point.Some old men went to Abba Poemen and asked, “If we see brothers sleeping during the common prayer, should we wake them?” Abba Poemen answered, “If I see my brother sleeping, I put his head on my knees and let him rest.”

For Abba Poemen prayer and compassion could not be separated: prayer is compassion and compassion is prayer. You might even say that a compassionate life, centered in God, is itself prayer.


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