By St. John of Kronstadt
As an ill-natured man, coming with a request to one who is kind, gentle and meek, for the greater success of his request tries to resemble him, so the Christian, approaching God with a prayer to Him, or to His most pure Mother, or to the angels and saints, in order to insure the success of his prayer, ought to try to resemble as far as possible the Lord Himself, or His most-pure Mother, or the angels and saints. In this lies the secret of drawing near to God, and of His speedily hearing our prayers.
In the saints we see the dominance of the spirit over the flesh, because they live by the spirit and see the spirit throughout the whole world, the Wisdom, the Omnipotence, and Goodness of God; they see in every phenomenon, in every work, the impress of the spirit.
The holy angels and other heavenly powers are full of pure, holy life, of unbroken peace, of unchangeable vigour, of eternal courage and strength, of indescribable beauty, light, and wisdom, of the purest love for God and men, of mutual friendship, of Divine light and enlightenment: such are also our holy guardian-angel. What a wonderful nature the angels have! But Christians who become worthy of attaining to the future life and to the resurrection from the dead will be equal to the angels, according to the word of the Lord Himself. Let us, then, zealously strive after that endless, unchangeable, undisturbed life.
In the same manner as objects situated at a great distance off on the earth, though they may be large, are quite invisible from afar if the sun is not reflected in them, whilst even small ones are visible a long way off if the sun is reflected in them, so it is also amongst men: those in whom the Eternal Sun of Righteousness, God, is not reflected in His perfections, are only noticeable when quite near by a very few; but if the Sun of Righteousness is reflected in them, then they are seen by all from a very great distance, they are glorified by all; they are people of all places and of all times (the saints); some of them shine like the sun, others like the moon, and others like the stars.
God's saints are near to believing hearts and, like the truest and kindest of friends, are ready in a moment to help the faithful and pious who call upon them with faith and love. We have for the most part to send, and have sometimes to wait long for earthly helpers, whilst we have not to send for nor wait long for spiritual helpers: the faith of Him who prays can place them close to his very heart in a moment, and he will as speedily receive through faith full spiritual help. In saying this, I speak by experience; by this I mean the frequent deliverance from affliction of heart through the intercession and patronage of the saints, and especially through the intercession of Our Lady, the Holy Virgin Mary. Probably some would say that this is the action of simple and firm faith, and a determined assurance in our deliverance from affliction, and not the intercession of the saints for us before God. No, it is not so. How can this be proved? It can be proved by the fact that if I do not call upon the saints known to me in hearty prayer, without making any distinction, if I do not see them with my spiritual vision, then I shall obtain no help, however great assurance I may have felt of being saved without their help. I recognise, I feel clearly, that I receive help through the names of those saints upon whom I have called, because of my lively faith in them. This happens just as everything happens in the usual order of earthly things. First, I see my helpers by means of earnest faith; then, seeing them, I pray to them also with my whole heart, invisibly but intelligibly to myself; after this, having received invisible help in quite an imperceptible manner, but sensibly to my soul, I simultaneously receive a strong conviction that this help has been obtained from them, just as a sick man, cured by a doctor, is convinced that he has been cured precisely by that doctor, and not by anyone else; that his illness has passed away not by itself, but through the help of this particular doctor. All this comes to pass so simply that it is only necessary to have eyes in order to see.
You do not understand how the saints in Heaven can hear us when we pray to them. But how do the rays of the sun bend down from Heaven to us, lighting everything throughout the earth? The saints in the spiritual world are like the rays of the sun in the material world. God is the eternal, life-giving Sun, and the saints are the rays of this wise Sun. As the eyes of the Lord are constantly looking upon the earth and upon terrestrial beings, so also the eyes of the saints cannot but turn towards the same direction as the provident gaze of the Lord of all creatures towards where their treasures (their bodies, their works, the holy places, and the persons devoted to them) are to be found. "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
You know how quickly, how far, and how clearly the heart can see (especially the objects of the spiritual world); you notice this in all the sciences, especially in the spiritual ones, where a great deal is adopted by faith only (the vision of the heart). The heart is the eye of the human being. The purer it is, the quicker, farther, and clearer it can see. But with God's saints this spiritual eye is refined, even during their lifetime, to the highest degree of purity possible for man, and after their death, when they have become united to God, through God's grace it becomes still clearer and wider in the limits of its vision. Therefore the saints see very clearly, widely, and far: they see our spiritual wants; they see and hear all those who call upon them with their whole hearts — that is, those whose mental eyes are fixed straight upon them, and are not darkened or dimmed when so fixed by unbelief and doubt; in other words, when the eyes of the heart of those who pray, so to say, meet the eyes of those they call upon. This is a mysterious vision. He who is experienced will understand what is meant. Therefore, how easy it is to communicate with the saints! It is only necessary to purify the eye of the heart, to fix it firmly upon a saint known to you, to pray to him for what you want, and you will obtain it. And what is God in reference to sight? He is all sight, all light, and all knowledge. He everlastingly fills both Heaven and earth, and sees everything in every place. "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good."
How should we keep the festivals? We must celebrate in them either the event (with a view of investigating the greatness of the event, its object, and the fruits it brought to those who believe) or the person; as, for instance, our Lord, the Mother of God, the angels and saints (with the view of investigating the relation of that person to God and to mankind and his beneficial influence upon God's Church in general). It is necessary to investigate the history of the event or of the person whose festival we solemnise, to approach it or him with, our whole heart, to absorb them, so to say, into ourselves; otherwise the festival will be incomplete, and not pleasing to God. The festivals ought to influence our life, to vivify and kindle our faith in future blessings, and maintain in us a pious and gentle disposition. Yet they are mostly spent in sin and folly and met with unbelieving, cold hearts, often wholly unprepared to feel the great mercies which God has vouchsafed to us through the particular event or person whose festival is celebrated.
In asking anything of the Lord, or of His Most-pure Mother, or of the Angels and Saints, it is needful to have such faith as the centurion of Capernaum had.  He believed that in the same manner as his soldiers obeyed him and fulfilled his words, so much more, at the Almighty Word of the All-merciful God, his request would be fulfilled. If creatures with their limited powers fulfilled that which He asked them to do, then will not the Master Himself through His Almighty power fulfil the requests of His servants who turn to Him with faith and hope? Will not the Most-pure Mother of God, the Angels and Saints, His true servants mighty through grace and in intercession with God, also fulfil our requests offered with faith, hope, and love? They will indeed; and I believe, with the centurion, that if I pray as I ought, and for what I ought, to any Saint: Grant me this, he will grant it to me; Come to my help, he will come; Do this, and he will do it. This is the simple, firm faith that we must have!
If you invoke any saint doubting that he is near you and hears you, and your heart is oppressed and contracted, conquer yourself, or, rather, overcome, with the help of the Lord Jesus Christ, the calumniator (the Devil) nestling in your heart; call upon the saint with the hearty assurance that he is near you in the Holy Spirit and hears your prayer, and you will at once feel relieved. Oppression and weariness of heart during prayer proceed from want of sincerity, from the deceitfulness and craftiness of our heart, in the same manner as when, during ordinary conversation with other people, we feel inwardly ill at ease if we do not speak to them from the heart, but untruthfully, insincerely. "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." Be true in heart always and everywhere, and you will always and everywhere have peace, but especially be true in your converse with God and the saints, "because the spirit is truth."
For instance, Saint Nicholas was, and still is, compassionate and merciful to men, by the grace of God. He always was, and still is, ready to hear those who call upon him sincerely, through the same merciful heart which he had during his lifetime, and which he still possesses, by the grace of God. Now, is not the Lord Himself compassionate and merciful, and much more compassionate and merciful? Infinitely more, as He Himself is infinitely greater than Saint Nicholas.
The Angels and the Saints are also near to us in their names, as their names and our faith in them are near to our hearts; for they are nothing else but the breath of God, and are "one spirit with the Lord."
What a close connection there is between the Church in heaven and the Church upon earth! What love the Church has! See: she unceasingly remembers, calls upon in prayer, and glorifies the Church in heaven for the great deeds accomplished on earth for God's sake; she unceasingly prays for the Church upon earth, and intercedes for the departed, in the hope of the resurrection, of the life eternal, and of union with God and the Saints. Her love is immense, grand, divine! Let us enter into the spirit of this love of our Mother, the orthodox Church, and let us be penetrated with the spirit of this love. Let us look upon all our brethren as our own members, upon ourselves and them as members of the one body of the Church, and let us love them actively, as ourselves; then we ourselves shall be living members of the Church in heaven, and she will be our active and speedy helper and intercessor.
Do the saints, whom we call upon, pray for us? They certainly pray for us. If I, a sinful man, a cold-hearted, sometimes wicked and malevolently disposed man, praying for others who have instructed or have not instructed me to pray for them and do not doubt, do not weary of saying their names during prayer, although sometimes not heartily, then will not God's saints — those lamps and torches, burning in God and before God, full of love to their earthly brethren — pray for me and for us when we call upon them with faith, hope, and love, according to our strength? They, our speedy helpers, pray also for our souls, as our Divinely-enlightened mother, the Holy Church, assures us. Pray, therefore, undoubtingly to God's saints, asking their intercession before God on your behalf. They hear you in the Holy Spirit; only pray in the Holy Spirit, from your soul for when you thus sincerely pray, then the Holy Spirit breathes in you, Who is the Spirit of truth and sincerity, and is our truth and sincerity. The one same Holy Spirit is in us and in the saints. The saints are holy through the Holy Spirit, Who sanctifies them and eternally dwells in them.
How vividly God's Saints represented God to themselves! — the Saints who through the Holy Spirit compiled prayers for their own and our guidance. In what fear and trembling they stood before God in prayer, but also with what love and hope! Every word of their prayers says: "God is with us; and God within us hears each of our words, sees every thought, every wish, every tear."
When we call upon the Saints in prayer, if we pronounce their names from the heart, it already means that we bring them near our heart itself. Therefore ask their prayers and intercession undoubtingly for yourself. They will hear you, and will speedily lay your prayers before the Lord, in the twinkling of an eye, for He is omnipresent and omniscient. When the Oblation you call in prayer upon the Lord Jesus Christ, or upon His Most pure Mother and the Saints, or when you commemorate the living or the departed, then the portion taken from the Bread, that has been offered, represents, and as if replaces by itself the Lord, or His Most-pure Mother, or some particular Saint, or many Saints conjointly; also the living or the departed commemorated, while the name thought of represents and replaces by itself the soul of the being invoked or commemorated. Thus, in a small form, on our lips and in our hearts, the beings of the higher and lower worlds are reflected, and all this through faith, by the Holy Spirit, who alone is being everywhere and filling everything. 
At the end of your morning and evening prayers in your home, call upon the Saints: Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Prelates, Martyrs, Confessors, Holy Fathers, the Ascetics, the Unmercenary, so that seeing in them the realisation of every virtue, you may yourself become the imitator of every virtue. Learn from the Patriarchs childlike faith and obedience to the Lord; from the Prophets and Apostles, the zeal for God's glory and for the salvation of the souls of men; from the Prelates, zeal to preach God's word, and in general to assist through the Scriptures, to the possible glorification of God's name, to the strengthening of faith, hope, and love amongst Christians; from the Martyrs and Confessors, firmness for the faith and piety before unbelieving and godless people; from the Ascetics, to crucify your own flesh, with its passions and desires, to pray and think piously; and from the Unmercenary, not to love gain, and to give gratuitous help to the needy.
God's Saints are represented in their inward actions as listening to the inward Guest, Who works within them — the Lord — venerating Him, smiling from inward sweetness and tenderness, and enjoying heavenly rest. "Ye are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."
God's saints had "the eyes of their understanding enlightened," and with these eyes they clearly saw the wants of our sin-corrupted nature; clearly saw for what we should pray, for what we should ask, for what we should give thanks, how we should praise the Lord, and they left us the most perfect examples of prayers of various kinds. O, how beautiful these prayers are!
If, being in an assemblage of men, you call a person known to you, and he comes to you; if you ask one or many men subservient to you to do anything for you within the limit of his or their capability, and they fulfil your request, satisfying it according to your desire, and even beyond your desire, then be assured that, likewise, in God's Church, in that great house of God divided into two halves — the heavenly and the earthly — any of the members of the Church in Heaven whom you call upon will come to your spiritual help conformably to his grace and the abundance of his love. Ask him to do anything for you that you please, especially anything relating to the Kingdom and righteousness of God, and he will do it through his close association with God, the Source of grace and power. God's saints also hear you — as, for instance, the whole congregation hears you when you pray or speak the Word — for they are in the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit is everywhere present, and fills all things.
All the Saints in heaven and all true Christians upon earth are "one body and one spirit," this is why the prayer of believers is heard so easily and speedily and truly in heaven, and why there is so much hopefulness in calling upon the Saints; but in order that our prayers should be always easily and speedily heard by the Saints, we must have the same spirit as them, the spirit of faith and of love for God and our neighbour, the spirit of meekness, humility, abstinence, purity and chastity, brave, valiant, thirsting after righteousness, the spirit of compassion, heavenly and not earthly.
As a passionate man is one spirit with the Devil — -and this I and many others feel and experience — so a virtuous man is and remains one spirit with the Lord, and this he feels and experiences, saying: "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me"; or, as it has been said by the Lord himself: "He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood dwelleth in me, and I in him"; or, again, as the Apostle said: " Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you?" Thus God's saints are one spirit with the Lord; likewise all those who live piously upon earth. This is a great mystery and a great honour for earthborn creatures. But, also, what shame and destruction it is to the sophistical and disobedient! They are one spirit with the Devil, from whom, Christ our God, deliver us all!
As in the earthly life there are poor and rich, so also in the spiritual life", in the spiritual order, there are also poor and rich. As the poor ask charity of the rich and well-to-do, and cannot live without their help, so also in the spiritual order the poor must have recourse to the spiritually rich. We are the spiritually poor, whilst the saints, or those who shine even in this present life by their faith and piety, are the spiritually rich. It is to them that we needy ones must have recourse. We must beg for their prayers that they may help us to become simple as infants; that they may teach us spiritual wisdom, how to conquer sins, how to love God and our neighbour. And therefore pray for me, saints of God — prophets, apostles, martyrs, prelates, venerable and righteous men — that I may become like unto you!
God's Saints are great through their spiritual disposition, through their faith, their firm trust in God, and their burning love to God, for Whose sake they despised all earthly things. O, how null we are, compared to them; how unlike unto them! They are great by their great deeds of abstinence, vigilance, fasting, unceasing prayers, their diligence in studying the Word of God, and in pious meditation. O, how unlike we are to them! How deeply we must venerate them! With what reverence we must ask for their prayers for us! But in no case must we regard them lightly, irreverently, remembering their godliness and their union with the Godhead.
God's Saints are — beautiful, incorruptible, fragrant flowers. Do not touch these flowers with lips defiled by sins — that is, pray to them with a pure heart and pure lips, not carelessly, not with distracted thoughts, but with reverence, and without haste. They are speaking heavens; they led a heavenly, wonderful life on earth, doing great deeds, they lived in great love, in deep humility, gentleness, patience, self-denial, loving God above all things.
How worthily reverenced and loved should the temple of God be! How God's Saints loved it!
How fragrant are the bones of the Saints! What a wonderful perfume the relics of God's Saints emit! What a great blessing it is to gain the sweet-smelling grace of the Holy Spirit and the life eternal! Why do we run after corruption? Why have we loved the stink of sins, of poisonous passions?
Lord in our prayers to Thee, we ask the intercession of the Saints, these spiritual sweet scents, that fragrance of Thy perfumes! Accept their prayers for us, fragrant with love and purity, and save us from the evil odour of sins, for our hearts are unclean and our mouths impure, and we are unworthy of most sweet converse with Thee. Everything in us is — earthly, corrupt, impure, and evil, whilst they, Thy Saints, are the purest fragrance; and, above all, Thy Most Pure Mother, Thy living, light-bearing abode, She is purer than all the brightness of the sun, more fragrant than all perfumes, for heaven and earth are full of the fragrance of Her holiness and of Her Divine virtues.
If we call upon the saints with faith and love, then they will immediately hear us. The faith is the connecting element on our part, and love on theirs, as well as ours; for they are in God, and we are in God, Who is Love. 
When your faith in the Lord, either during your life and prosperity, or in the time of sickness and at the moment of quitting this life, grows weak, grows dim from worldly vanity or through illness, and from the terrors and darkness of death, then look with the mental eyes of your heart upon the companies of our forefathers, the patriarchs, prophets, and righteous ones — St. Simeon, who took the Lord up in his arms, Job, Anna the Prophetess, and others; the Apostles, prelates, venerable Fathers, martyrs, the disinterested, the righteous, and all the saints. See how, both during their earthly life and at the time of their departure from this life, they unceasingly looked to God and died in the hope of the resurrection and of the life eternal, and strive to imitate them. These living examples, which are so numerous, are capable to strengthen the wavering faith of every Christian in the Lord and in the future life. Those Christian communions who do not venerate the saints and do not call upon them in prayer lose much in piety and in Christian hope. They deprive themselves of the great strengthening of their faith by the examples of men like unto themselves.
Live as the saints lived: by their prayers, wisdom, and virtues; in meekness, humility, and gentleness, not sparing yourself, but renouncing yourself, your rest, ease and enjoyment, for the love of God and your neighbour, in patience, courage and struggle — have their faith, hope and love. "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding."
I gaze upon the icons in the temple — upon Thy holy icon, my Lord, upon that of Thy Most Pure Mother, those of the holy Angels and Archangels, and upon the faces of the saints, adorned, resplendent with gold and silver — and think to myself how Thou hast honoured and adorned our nature, Creator and Provider of all! Thy saints shine with Thy light, they are sanctified by Thy grace, having conquered sin and washed away the sinful impurities of body and spirit ; they are glorious with Thy glory, they are incorruptible through Thine incorruptibility. Glory to Thee for having so honoured, enlightened, and raised our nature! Here are Thine Apostles and Hierarchs, living images of Thee, the Highest, Who passed through the heavens, Envoy of the Father, Hierarch and Chief of Shepherds; Thy goodness, Thy wisdom, Thy might, spiritual beauty, power, and holiness shine in them. Here are Thy martyrs, who by Thy strength overcame terrible temptations and endured fearful tortures; they have washed the garments of their souls white in Thy blood. Here are Thy venerable ones, who by fasting, vigilance, and prayer obtained Thy wonderful gifts, the gifts of healing, of discernment; Thy might strengthened them to stand above sin and all the snares of the Devil; Thy likeness shines forth in them like the sun.
The holy Angels and God's saints are our best, kindest, and truest brothers and friends, so often helping us in various circumstances in which no human beings can help us. As these brothers, who eternally live and load us with benefits, are invisible, whilst we, on account of our corporality, wish to have them before our eyes and as though always present with us, therefore we have images of them; and, looking upon these images, we represent to ourselves that they are with us, and we call upon them in our prayers, knowing that they have great boldness before God and help us in various circumstances. Thus the veneration of icons is most beneficial for us, corresponding with our nature and with common-sense, as well as with the Holy Scriptures themselves, for there were images of the Cherubim in Moses' tabernacle of the Old Testament. Icons serve as a constant reminder to us that the Lord is always with us ("I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" ); that the Most Holy Mother of God is always near us as the "First-Origin of the spiritual renovation" of the Church, as the Mother by grace of all true Christians. And therefore all true Christians have in their houses the image of the Mother of God, their Queen and Mother by grace, and abundantly, worthily, and rightly adorn it with silver, gold, and precious stones; for, after God, there is no one dearer and more reverenced by them than His Most Pure Mother. Both the Lord Himself and His Most Pure Mother continually prove to us by means of miracles, both inwardly and outwardly, that our true veneration of His saints, and of His Mother, and of His holy icons, is pleasing to Him and profitable to us in the highest degree.
Our Lady, the Mother of God, the Angels and all the Saints are as near to me when I call upon them with a pure, whole heart as my own soul, and hear me, as I hear myself: for we are all — one body, one spirit, one Church of Angels and men. The members of the Church have the same relation to each other as the members of the body: they serve each other, they help each other, support and save each other. (But is it thus with the Protestants?)
...By calling upon the names of God's saints in prayer, we move them to pray for us.
How do the saints hear us? They hear us as being one in the Holy Spirit with us — "that they also may be one in us," as members of the one Church of God, having for her head the one Christ, and animated by the one Spirit of God. The saints see and hear us in the Holy Spirit in the same manner as we see and hear with our bodily eyes and ears by means of light and air; but our bodily sight and hearing are very imperfect in comparison to spiritual sight and hearing. At a great distance we cannot see many objects and cannot hear many sounds, but spiritual sight and hearing are perfect; not a single movement of the heart, not a single thought, not a single word, intention, or desire escapes them, because the Spirit of God — in Whom the saints dwell, see, and hear us — is all-perfect, omniscient, all-seeing, and all-hearing, for He is omnipresent.
"As Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us." This is the reason why we must pray to the Saints: they are in God, and God is in them; and this is why they hear us, that is, owing to their being in the omnipresent God. "For holy art Thou, O our God, and Thou restest in the Saints."
As by means of the electric telegraph we speedily communicate with persons who are far away from us, so, likewise, by means of lively faith, as though through the telegraph wires, we speedily communicate with God, with the Angels and Saints. As we entirely trust to the speed of the electric current, and to its reaching its destination, so, likewise, we should completely trust to the speed of the prayer of faith and to its reaching its destination. Send your petition to God and the Saints by means of the telegraph of faith, and you will speedily obtain an answer. The answering signs of a telegraph are simple, but the experienced read them; the actions upon the heart of the God of all spirits, of all flesh and of the Saints, are likewise simple, but the experienced understand them.
As our Creator and God is one, therefore He brings together and unites all things, and, for a believing soul, there is nothing far away that He cannot bring near by means of faith. Do you wish to converse with — -not to speak of God, Who is everywhere, but with the high and heavenly powers, principalities, archangels and angels? You can do so. In accordance with your prayer they will instruct, enlighten, strengthen you in your faith. Or do you wish to converse with the departed Saints? You can do so. They will be with you at your first heartfelt call — especially the most Holy Virgin, Mother of God, our most speedy Mediatrix. " We unceasingly glorify Thee, O Christ, Who hast indescribably joined the earthly to the heavenly, and hast established one Church for the angels and men." Christ is the head both of angels and men. With such a Head, what then cannot be near to us? And how near to us must the Head Himself be in order to hear us! Experience convinces us that He hears us, as the saints also hear us.
The Lord especially highly esteems the works of His hands, gifted with reason and free will, that is, the angels and saints, and works through them for our sanctification and salvation. Therefore do not say: I always have recourse straight to God alone with my needs, with my prayer. It is sometimes also necessary for you to have recourse to the saints as His instruments and organs. God Himself does not wish that these holy temples of His grace, of His Divine Spirit, should remain inactive in the work of our salvation.
If we sinners pray and make supplications to the Lord for ourselves and others; if, when living upon earth, the saints pray for others and ask God for what is needful for them, then much more will they do so when they are transplanted to eternity and are face to face with God. By virtue of the great mediatory sacrifice of the Son of God, the prayers of the saints, especially those of His most pure Mother, possess, by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the power of mediation. This is the Lord's recompense for the merits of the saints.
From our own experience of lively, heart-felt prayer, we may know that the saints are received into the closest union with God. Also, by our own experience we know that during our communion with God, by means of the prayer of faith, our mind is enlightened in an extraordinary manner, and acquires the widest scale of action. At this time it sees that which it does not see in its ordinary state. From this, it follows that the saints, being in union with God, being also pure, detached from the body, have the most clear, far-seeing mind. They hear our fervent prayers; and if these prayers are pleasing to God and profitable to us, they will unfailingly fulfil them.
God and the saints hear us during our prayer as men hear each other when talking among themselves, or as people standing in church hear the preacher, or soldiers the voice of their commander, with the difference that God and the saints hear our prayers incomparably better and more perfectly, because when we hear the words of an ordinary man we do not know what is in his heart and thoughts, and it may happen that a person, says one thing whilst he has quite another in his heart.
But with God and the saints it is not so; they see all that is in our thoughts and in our heart — God Himself by His omniscience, and the saints by the grace of the Holy Spirit, in Whom they eternally rest. They see whether our words really correspond to the feeling of our heart, and if so, and the heart itself on its part is a believing, contrite, and humble one, burning with love and zeal (for " we earnestly have recourse to Thee "), as well as with a desire to obtain what we ask for, then they are favourably inclined to accept our prayer and give us what we desire. God and the saints wish that during our prayer we should represent them to ourselves as living, present with us; that we should see them with our spiritual eyes. God is living. " For He is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto Him."
As, during a conversation between men, the air, which is everywhere and fills all things, serves as a medium between the word of one and the word of another, and the words of one reach the hearing of another through the air, and it would be impossible to speak and hear without air — so in spiritual respects the Holy Spirit, "Who is everywhere present and filleth all things," is a similar medium in our communion with the bodiless ones. We do not thoroughly understand how, by means of air, our words are heard by others, sometimes at a great distance, yet we know that they are heard; likewise, we do not understand how the holy angels and saints hear, in the Holy Spirit, the wail of our hearts; yet we know that it is heard. As in the first case we may be assured of our words having been heard by others from the answers, so in the latter we are similarly assured by the answers we receive. In the first case we see the person with whom we speak with our bodily eyes, and in the latter we see the person with whom we converse with our spiritual eyes. An image is presented to the bodily eye and to the spiritual eye — an invisible person or spirit. For corporal beings there is distance, whilst for the Holy Spirit it does not exist.
Call upon the name of the saint with your whole soul; he will hear you, and will manifest his miraculous power in the image. The name of the Saviour, called upon with faith, works wonders. It drives away the demons, quenches the fire of the passions, heals sicknesses. The names of the saints, called upon with faith, by the grace of God also work wonders. And what is there astonishing in this? They are all in the Spirit of God, and the life-giving Spirit of God is everywhere present and fills all things. The saints all work wonders by the Holy Spirit, because the one Spirit of God is the Spirit of wonders.
Concerning honouring and invoking the saints in prayer (on the day of St. Nicholas). What is it founded upon? They are in God; they are rich in spiritual gifts; they are in the land of the living, and in the land of abundance; whilst we are in the land of death and of spiritual hunger. God has taken them unto Himself to preserve our life. " God did send me before you to preserve life," said Joseph to his brethren. Abraham — Noah. The rich man in hell begged Abraham to send Lazarus. Noah, the deliverer from the deluge. "Blessed is he whose race is in Sion, and who hath kinsmen in Jerusalem."
"O most holy Bishop, Father Nicholas, pray to God for us!" What is the reason that we ask the prayers of the Saints for ourselves? Do they really pray for us? and is their prayer effective? God Himself plainly declared His will to some persons not having nearness to Him, chiefly to sinful men, that they should ask God's people to pray for them. For instance, Abimelech, who took Abraham's wife, was commanded to ask Abraham to pray for him; Job prayed for his friends, in accordance with the evident revelation of God's will; Moses, Samuel, Elijah, and all the prophets prayed; the Lord Himself, in accordance with His human nature, prayed to the Heavenly Father for Peter and for all the disciples. The Saints are worthy of being intercessors for us before God, by their virtues, by their merits, and as those who pleased Him. If earthly justice requires that a certain man nearer to God (for instance, a priest) should pray to God for others, then why should it not be the same in heaven? All the Saints live in God and for us; in God they see our needs, they sympathise with us, they are ready, in accordance with our prayers, to help us. Why in accordance with our prayers, and not otherwise? In order to strengthen us in faith and prayerfulness. Besides, why do even living men wish that others who need their help should ask them for it?
What does the daily invocation of the Saints signify — of different ones each day, during the whole year and during our whole lifetime? It signifies that God's Saints, as our brethren, only perfect, live and are near us; that they hear us and are ever ready to help us, by the grace of God. We live together with them — in the one house of the Heavenly Father — only on its different halves. We live on the earthly, they on the heavenly half; but we both have a means of communication with each other: for us the prayer of faith and love, for them their spiritual nature, always ready for active help, owing to the love with which their souls are permeated.
The saints fulfilled the word of the Lord; the Lord fulfils their word; they worked for Him — He does so for them. The Lord Himself said: " With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." This is why the Lord speedily fulfils the prayers of the Saints for us.
"My servant Job shall pray for you; Abraham shall pray for thee . . . Moses. . . Samuel . . . Elijah." The prayers of the Saints for us are pleasing unto the Lord, as coming from His faithful servants. The Devil continually lies against God in our hearts, especially in respect to God's omnipresence, saying, "God hath forgotten: He hideth away His face;" also, in respect to His justice, "God careth not for it;" also even, in respect to His existence, "There is no God."
God's saints are great merchants, who have enriched themselves with all spiritual treasures, with all virtues: meekness, humility, abstinence, patience, great faith, hope, and love. This is why we ask their holy prayers, as poor men of rich, that they may help us in our spiritual poverty; that they may teach us how to pray and to progress in all Christian virtues; that they, having boldness before God, may pray for the remission of our past sins and protect us from fresh ones. We go to earthly merchants in their shops to buy their merchandise: shall we not have recourse to the heavenly merchants with fervent prayer, as though with silver and gold? Shall we not purchase of them their intercession for us before God for the forgiveness of sins and the bestowal of various Christian virtues? It seems very natural to do so.
"All things are possible to him that believeth," because he who believes is one spirit with the Lord. If everything is possible to the believer who lives on earth, though he isÂ°not quite perfect, then still more is it so to him who dwells in heaven in close union with God, and who is most perfect. To the saints God is everything, so that the saints are truly gods. "I [God Himself, Whose word is truth] have said: Ye are gods."
The priests praying on earth for men are the sign and testimony of the heavenly Church praying for us in Heaven, and of the Mediator Christ God Himself. The Saints are kinder than we think, and more speedily than we think they come to our help, in accordance with our prayer.
Do not be afraid of human talk and mockery about yourself. This is diabolical fear; think of what the Lord God says of you, what the angels and saints say of you.
Call upon the saints with faith unshamed and love unfeigned if you wish them to hear you and fulfil your prayer. Remember that like seeks after like. The saints have themselves pleased God by their faith and love, and wish to see the same in you. To faith and love add also the reverence due to them.
The saints of God live even after their death. Thus, I often hear in church the Mother of God singing her wonderful, heart-penetrating song which she said in the house of her cousin Elizabeth, after the Annunciation of the Archangel. At times, I hear the song of Moses; the song of Zacharias — the father of the Forerunner; that of Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel; that of the three children; and that of Miriam. And how many holy singers of the New Testament delight until now the ear of the whole Church of God! And the Divine service itself — the sacraments, the rites? Whose spirit is there, moving and touching our hearts? That of God and of His saints. Here is a proof for you of the immortality of men's souls. How is it that all these men have died, and yet are governing our lives after their death — they are dead and they still speak, instruct and touch us?
Also daily invoke the glorified saints, that they may enlighten your way by their prayers, and that they may intercede for the forgiveness of your sins; and that you yourself may remember that after death there is eternal glorification and bliss for good deeds, and eternal condemnation for evil ones.
How is it that the saints see us and our needs and hear our prayers? Let us make the following comparison: Suppose that you were transplanted to the sun and were united to it. The sun lights the whole earth with its rays, it lights every particle of the earth. In these rays you also see the earth, but you are so small in proportion to the sun, that you would form, so to say, but one ray, and there are an infinite number of such rays. By its identity with the sun this ray takes an intimate part in lighting the whole world through the sun. So also the saintly soul, having become united to God, as to its spiritual sun, sees, through the medium of its spiritual sun, which lights the whole universe, all men and the needs of those that pray.
Whomsoever you wish to pray to, before praying, first ask in your heart that you may be made worthy of offering Him your heartfelt prayer, praise, or thanksgiving, for we can only pray by the strengthening of the Holy Spirit, and by the strengthening of those saints, through whose intercession we wish to pray to the Saviour. Raise to Him before your prayer or praise a heartfelt voice, that He may grant you the grace of sincere prayer, that He may lay His easy yoke and His light burden on your heart, that they may destroy the diabolical pride and resistance of your mind and heart. If you wish to pray to Our Lady, call upon Her that She may make you worthy of offering Her your prayer, praise, or thanksgiving from the whole heart, unfeignedly. If you wish to pray to an angel, ask the Lord to make you deserving of worthily offering him your prayer, or of hymning the grace, brightness, and goodness of his nature; if to a saint, invoke the Holy Spirit, by Whose holiness the saints are sanctified, that you may worthily call upon him or ascribe praises and thanksgivings to him; for we all can only pray worthily and vivifyingly through the strengthening of the life-giving Holy Spirit. God's saints are the pure breathings of the Holy Spirit. "The wind (the Spirit) bloweth where it listeth." (That is, He breathes in any soul He pleases.) The Holy Virgin was superabundantly sanctified and purified by the Holy Spirit. The angels, too, are sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and live and breathe by Him, as we live by the flesh and breathe by means of air. Prayers, in their true aspect, are nothing else but the breathing of the Holy Spirit. "The Spirit Itself," it is said, "maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
 Exclamation taken from the Vespers.
 St. Matthew vi. 21.
 Proverbs xi. 3.
 St. Luke vii. 6 and following verses.
 Acts xxvi. 14.
 1 John v. 7.
 Corinthians vi. 17.
 The English reader who is unacquainted with the liturgies of the Orthodox Church can refer to the translations of Neale, Richardson, Robertson, and others.
 1 Peter ii. 25.
 Ephesians i. 18.
 Ephesians iv. 4.
 Galatians ii. 20.
 St. John vi. 56.
 1 John iv. 16.
 St. Luke xii. 35, 36.
 St. Matthew xxviii. 20.
 St. John xvii. 21.
 St. John xvii. 21.
 St. John iii. 24.
 Exclamation at Vespers.
 Canon to the Archangel.
 St. Luke xx. 38.
 Prayer to the Holy Spirit.
 Genesis xlv. 5.
 Isaiah xxxi. 9. (The text is thus rendered in the Slavonic version.)
 St. Matthew vii. 2.
 Job xlii. 8; Genesis xx. 7,17; Jeremiah xv. 1; 1 Kings xviii. 36; Psalm xcix. 6.
 Psalm x. 11, 14.
 Psalm xiv. 1.
 Psalm lxxxii 6.
 St. John iii. 8.
 Romans viii. 26.
Excerpts compiled from: My Life in Christ or Moments of Spiritual Serenity and Contemplation, of Reverent Feeling, of Earnest Self-Amendment, and of Peace in God, St. John of Kronstadt.