Anger: Impediment to Prayer

“When you are disturbed [angry], do not sin; ponder on your beds, and be silent” (Psalm 4:4)

What happens to you when you get angry? Actually you surrender to anger or, better stated, you indulge yourself in anger. Everyone except the frustrated parent can smile and ignore a child in the throes of a temper tantrum. But anger at any age or stage of life is just a reversion to the infantile self-indulgence of a tantrum. The result is that the anger like a raging fire feeds on itself. Your anger increases.

That’s not the end. You are drawn into a demonic state. You’re out of control, the Holy Spirit lies dormant in your heart, your guardian angel is helpless and remains silent, and you welcome the power of evil in your soul. The question often asked: If God is good and created only goodness, how did evil happen? You know the answer instinctively—because your instinct to surrender to anger is proof that evil comes from the need for satisfaction of your wrath.

You are offended, and you want justice. Somebody consciously or unintentionally hurt or humiliated you, and you demand retribution. You resent having been injured. The renowned teacher of spiritual progress, Evagrius, [Praktikos 11] noted four signs that come with the feeling of resentment:

  1. Your mind and soul are disturbed, and the annoyance will not leave you in peace. You ponder over the matter all day long. You may be speaking with others, you smile and put on a show of interest in what they are talking about, but all the while part of your mind is ruminating over the agony of humiliation and the cause of it;
  2. You hold up the face of the offender constantly. You may try to read, or watch television, or perhaps close your eyes and try to escape in some imaginative way, but that person’s countenance won’t go away. Even when you are praying, you realize that you are muttering words without meaning;
  3. You wake up at night shocked by what went on in your dreams. They are not comforting, because your soul is troubled. You find yourself out of control and in places that you cannot escape. Others are acting in a routine manner, but you are not one of them. And no wonder: You are indeed imprisoned by the passion that possesses you. You have lost your way to the Kingdom, caught on a path leading to chaos. You have no inner peace. All of that your mind is explaining through the dream process, but you aren’t listening—and you don’t want to hear the wisdom of forgiveness and the restoration of the inner serenity that enfolds your soul;
  4. Worst of all, you lose the ability to contemplate. Just to sit alone and sort out the jumbled visions that pass across your mind’s eye is impossible, because the face you hate and plans of revenge dominate your good sense and short-circuit the positive energy flow that you were given at birth and augmented at baptism.

Here are the reasons why the memory of slights is a barrier to prayer. Satan like any astute general in battle acts to cut his enemy off from the source of his supplies. When you lose contact with the Holy Spirit within your heart, you are defenseless. Anger prevents you from prayer, frustrates contemplation, makes of Bible reading a mixture of confused words before your eyes, and leaves you in despair and misery.