We all know that it is important to spend time in God’s Word. We may even want to spend time reading his word, listening to him, speaking to us again, and enjoying a loving relationship with him. Then why don’t we do it as often as we should? The simple answer is deferment.
Acedia definition – what does Acedia mean?
The word Acedia is a Greek word that literally means “without worry”. The next equivalent English word is sloth. Suppose you were asked to name seven of the worst sins. How would you react to that? I am almost certain that you would immediately think of the common list known as the Seven Deadly Sins.
When this was created, the desert fathers placed the world “Acedia” in the center. Although Acedia sounds like a sloth when translated, it meant much more than that to the fourth-century desert fathers.
For them it was a depression that made it difficult or impossible to be spiritual, and it was characterized by boredom that led to falling asleep while reading the Word of God.
They also placed it at the center of the list to demonstrate that it was a sin that is common to all people and from which everyone else arises.
The story of the desert fathers
The term desert fathers (and also desert mothers) refers to a group of pious hermits, monks and ascetics who lived in the Scetes desert in Egypt in the third and fourth centuries AD. There are a number of well-known desert fathers, but “Anthony The Great” is probably the best known. Indeed, he is called the founder or father of the desert monastery. He was in the desert in AD 270 and stayed there until AD 271. At the time of his death, he had inspired thousands of monks to take the path to seclusion in the desert.
Christian monasticism was strongly influenced by these early hermits. For example Mt. The monastic traditions of Athmos and the rule of St. Benedict were largely influenced by the former desert fathers. While they are not so well known in today’s evangelical church, a look at church history shows that almost all of the renewal movements of the church were tied to some pious men and women who wanted to separate from ordinary worldly life to hear God more clearly. Examples of such innovations are the German Evangelicals and the revival of the English Methodists. Although each of these innovations had different effects and took different turns, they were all largely influenced by the Desert Fathers.
What started out as a man’s search for separation gradually developed into a community of monarchs. It started with monarchs merging into two or three, and over time it developed into full monarch communities. This development has produced monasteries that follow some rules and guidelines to improve discipline, guarantee silence, establish fasting and prayer. The monasteries also included works such as weaving baskets and clothes to cover their living expenses.
The Desert Fathers were led into the desert because of their determination and commitment to seek God. For example, when Christianity was legalized in the Roman Empire in 313, one of the fathers named Anthony decided to sell all of his possessions and go to the desert. In those early days, these monarchs believed that mixing religion and politics was not the method of creating a Christian society. For them, the only way to be a true Christian was to be spiritual, contrary to the aspirations of worldly things of the time.
The midday devil: distractions and delay
The desert fathers had only one goal – to obey the most important commandment:
One of the law teachers came and heard her debate. When he noticed that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him: “Which of the commandments is the most important?”
“The most important thing,” answered Jesus, “is this:” Listen, Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. “Mark 12: 28-30, NIV
For desert fathers, it was only important to love the Lord, and the best way to do that was to give up everything and everyone to fully focus on God. But then they realized something they hadn’t imagined – suddenly they realized that it was almost impossible to think of anything but the scriptures all day long. Even though they were out there in the desert doing nothing but focus on reading, praying, and fasting the Word of God, they often had wandering thoughts or grew tired all day, all of the time Week to do one thing. It didn’t take long for them to realize that this wasn’t working. This brought them to a new realization – that even in loneliness you could still lose focus on what led you to seclusion at all. It was an interesting challenge that needed a creative solution.
The biggest challenge was around noon when the sun was scorching hot. It was not easy to focus on God, and they often suffered from wandering thoughts. This phenomenon was so common that they called it the midday devil. One of the ways the Desert Fathers dealt with this challenge was to create a schedule and stick to it. As the monarch communities developed, it became necessary to do some work to keep the facility afloat. This also helped them plan their day and become more fruitful for their prayer time.
Lessons from the Desert Fathers
We may not agree with everything the Desert Fathers did, and we probably have no chance of retiring out in the wild. Nevertheless, there are some timeless principles that we can learn from the Desert Fathers and apply in our modern lives. Let’s take a look at some of them:
The power of separation
There is power in separation. If you look through the scriptures, you will see the pattern of separation – God would separate His people before using them for a great job. Consider the following Bible examples:
Abraham – God wanted to bless him, make his name great and bless the families of the earth through him. But before this happened, God asked Abraham to separate himself from his father’s house, his people, and his country. When Abraham obeyed, God fulfilled his promise (Genesis 12, 13).
Noah – Noah is a man with whom we can easily identify. He lived in a perverse generation. A generation so full of wickedness that God decided to wipe them out completely. But even though he lived in such a sinful environment, Noah was still a just and just man. He lived a separate life, so to speak. For this reason, God revealed to him his 100 year plan and gave him a way out of the punishment that God would release for humanity (Genesis 6: 8-9).
Moses – Moses was brought up as a king – in Pharaoh’s household. But he knew he was a Jew and he didn’t like how his people were mistreated by the Egyptians. So he took matters into his own hands and killed one of the Egyptians he caught abusing his people. This led him to flee glamorous life, and while he was in the desert, the Lord appeared and called on him (Exodus 3). Even after answering the call and successfully leading the Israelites out of bondage, he occasionally went up the mountain alone to hear from God (Exodus 19: 3, 24:15).
Samson – Samson is probably one of the most famous Bible characters. He was the strongest man who has ever lived, and he literally launched a one-man attack on the Philisteration and prevailed. He was so strong that he could tear a lion to pieces, carry the gates of a city up the hill, catch 300 foxes and attach a torch to their tails, and other exploits as recorded in the Judges’ Book. But what was the secret of its strength? The secret was that God had called him to live the life of a Nazi rite, a separate life from the day he was conceived until his death (Judges 13: 1-7).
Jeremiah – The prophet Jeremiah was called at a crucial time in the history of Israel, and his ministry helped restore the hope of the Jewish people, who were at a point of despair. When God called him, he was a little confused and wondered why God would call him so young and give him such a great and noble responsibility. Then God took him behind the scenes and told him how he had separated him straight from the womb for this assignment (Jeremiah 1: 5).
John the Baptist – John was the prophet who had the noble responsibility to prepare the way for the coming Messiah. His ministry was so phenomenal that even though he preached in the wild where there were no people, people literally flocked there to listen to him. Just like Jeremiah, God had put him aside from the womb, and in fact the angel who announced his birth said that John would be filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb (Luke 1:15).
Jesus – After John the Baptist baptized Jesus, he was led into the desert, where he stayed for 40 days and 40 nights. This moment of separation prepared him for public service and finally for his suffering, passion and death on the cross. The devil probably had no idea who Jesus was before, but when he was baptized, God announced him and everyone who was there heard it. The devil must have heard it too and from then on he tried every trick to tear down his ministry. But after the 40 days of separation, Jesus was ready to face any temptation the devil hurled at him.
Paul – Paul, who was originally called Saul, was one of the persecutors of the early church. However, one day Jesus appeared to him when he was on the way to persecute the Church, and what emerged from this experience was a radical transformation. Paul later became one of the primary responsible for the Bible after writing almost three quarters of the New Testament. But before he ever wrote his first letter or delivered his first sermon, he went through a period of separation. He stayed in the Arabian desert, where he probably received most of the revelations that he later wrote in his letters (Galatians 1: 17-18).
After all, I think it’s no surprise that Jesus said:
But when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your father, who is invisible. Then your father, who sees what is being done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6: 6
God is all we need
The second lesson we can learn from the Desert Fathers is the importance of making heaven our primary focus. The Desert Fathers knew that our life on Earth was temporary and that we were on the other side of death in a more glorious future. This understanding prompted her to sell her real estate and seek God in the desert. Even if God does not want you to sell your things to show him your devotion, He wants you to serve him with your possessions. The pursuit of happiness should never be our main goal in life. On the contrary, serving God should be the main driving force for our existence.
Just like the Desert Fathers, we should always remember that God is all we need. And there are many scriptures that remind us of that. One example is what Jesus said when he taught his followers how important it is not to be governed with concern. He said,
So don’t worry and say: What should we eat? or what should we drink? or what should we be dressed for?
(Because the heathen are looking for all these things 🙂 because your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But first seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all of these things will be added to you.
So don’t think about tomorrow; because tomorrow will think of things in themselves. To this day, the evil of it is sufficient. Matthew 6: 31-34, King James Version
Nothing steals time like striving for the things of the earth. And Jesus reminded his followers that priority was important. As long as our priority is to meet our needs, we will never have enough stuff. However, if we could make the search for God and His Kingdom our priority, he would be more than willing to intervene and ensure that we have everything we need. To emphasize this thought, the Holy Spirit repeated this in other parts of Scripture. For example,
Concentrate on the things above, not earthly things. Column 3: 2
As difficult as that may sound, it is not only possible, but a requirement for us. The only way to enjoy our daily path with God is to strive to focus our mind on the things above, not just earthly things. Peter also encourages us to do this.
But set Christ apart in your heart [as holy—acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as sir. Always be ready to give [logical] Defense for anyone who asks you to account for hope and confident certainty [elicited by faith] that’s still in you [do it] with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15
You are not alone
I think this is the most powerful lesson we can learn from the Desert Fathers. Even though they had taken rigorous measures all day to be closer to God, they were lost sight of. According to reports, they had to deal with wandering thoughts and thoughts if they were to meditate and pray. So don’t be too hard on yourself. You are not alone in this. Those who went before us went through dry spells and we will definitely have to experience them too. But then we should consider devotion as a discipline. In this way we do not rely on feelings, but on discipline. Once we discipline ourselves to have regular prayer, it doesn’t matter whether we feel like it or not. It won’t matter whether we feel close to God or not – we will continue to do our dedication and our persistence will eventually wear out any resistance.
We should turn to God daily in faith and say, “Lord, I know I am very busy with many things to do, but I still want to do your will. That is the main thing. ”
Always remember that when you start fighting in your prayer, you are not alone.
It is not entirely smooth
Another important lesson to learn from the Desert Fathers is that even if you choose to do more, you can still face challenges in your dedication.
Let’s say you went to a lonely place and were in God’s presence day and night for 40 days and 40 nights – what do you think the result would be? Maybe something really fantastic and spectacular like raising someone from the dead? But guess when Jesus finished his 40-day fast, the Bible says the devil has come to try him. This is not the answer you would expect, is it?
Likewise, you shouldn’t expect it to be completely smooth. Scripture says:
Many are the sufferings of the righteous; but the Mr frees him from everyone. Psalms 34:19
Obstacles will always be there, but the good news is that God is a pervasive help in times of need.
The Desert Fathers usually did most of the hard work in the morning when it was cooler, but when they sat down to relax and think at noon, their thoughts often wandered and they lost focus on God. The same thing must happen to us wherever we are. For example, you might be home and ready to begin your devotion, and then something happens. Your phone rings or someone knocks on the door, my husband asks for a cup of tea, etc. Even when you are in church, you can easily get distracted. For example, you could start praying and then a thought comes to your mind and before you know it, you are busy worrying and thinking about things at home.
Jesus had a fair share of distractions in his public service. If you read the gospels, you will find that he had to deal with many of them every day. A classic example is when he was on the way to heal Jairus’ daughter, only to be interrupted by the woman on the subject of blood. Although the Bible uses only a few verses to describe this interruption, it must have been lengthy because the servants of Jairus have managed to come up with the report that the daughter was already dead. In this example, as in almost all other cases where Jesus’ service was interrupted, he has always dealt with the interruption without losing focus on the original goal.
Although we are all looking forward to a time when we will be completely immersed in God’s presence, we only have to deal with people in our dedication with interruptions. As a rule of thumb, the interruptions should never decide whether you do your dedication or not. You have to choose to keep the main thing the main thing. There are many interesting things that will happen to us and some will definitely catch our attention. In other cases, they won’t even be interesting things, but they’ll still be important. In any case, we should never allow the interesting and important to ruin our personal path with the Lord.
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