Once upon a time there was a holy man who prayed and often grieved over the sins of the people. And it seemed strange to him why it happens that people go to church, ask God, but still live as badly, sin does not diminish. “Lord,” he thought, “don’t you heed our prayers? People are constantly praying to live in peace and repentance, and they just can’t. Are their prayers really useless?”
One day he fell asleep with those thoughts. And it seemed to him that a glorious angel, embracing him with his wing, lifted him high, high above the ground. As they rose higher and higher, the sounds from the ground became weaker. There were no more human voices, no songs, no shouts, the whole noise of earthly life subsided. Only occasionally harmonious gentle sounds flew somewhere, like the sounds of a distant car.
– “What is this?” the old man asked.
“These are the prayers of the saints,” replied the angel, “only they will be heard here.”
- “But why do they sound so weak? Why are there so few of these sounds? After all, are all people praying in the church now? “
The angel looked at him and his face was sad.
– You want to know? Look.
Far below stood a large church. Miraculously, its vaults were opened and the holy man saw all that was going on inside. The church was full of people. A large choir was seen in the church. In front of the altar stood a priest in full clothing. A service was held. I couldn’t tell what was going on because I couldn’t hear a single sound. You could see the deacon standing on the left reading something quickly, clapping and moving his lips, but the words did not reach there. The tall deacon slowly entered the pulpit, adjusted his hair with a smooth motion, opened his mouth, and … not a single voice! On the balcony, the choir leader shared notes: the choir was preparing to sing.
“I can probably hear the choir,” the old man thought. The conductor struck his knee with a fork, lifted it to his ear, held out his hands, and signaled to begin, yet there was complete silence. It was surprisingly strange to see it: the choir director waved his hands, trampled on his feet, the basses flushed with effort, the tenors stretched their toes, raised their heads high, everyone had their mouths open, but the singing sound could not be heard.
“What is this?” thought the old man. He looked to those who prayed. There were many, of different ages and statuses: men and women, old people and children, merchants, and ordinary peasants. Everyone worshiped, many whispered, but nothing was heard. The whole church was dumb.
Why is this so? the old man asked.
Let’s go down and you will see and understand, said the angel.
They descended slowly, invisibly into the church building. The beautifully dressed woman stood before the whole people and apparently prayed earnestly. The angel approached him and touched him gently with his hand. And suddenly the old man saw his heart and understood his thoughts.
“Oh, that disgusting postmaster!” he discussed. – “With a new hat again! The husband is a drunkard, the children are out of hand, and he is forcing them! “
A merchant stood nearby in a proper coat and looked thoughtful. The angel touched his chest, and his hidden thoughts immediately appeared to the old man: “… What a pity! He sold it cheaply … You can’t buy this product right now! It’s not that I lost a thousand or maybe a half … “
Next was a young peasant. He hardly prayed, but kept looking to the left, where the women stood, blushed, and shifted from foot to foot. The angel touched him, and the old man read from his heart, “Oh, good Dunyasha! .. She has everything: a beautiful face as well as character and work … I wish I had such a woman! Will I succeed or not?”
The angel touched many and all had similar thoughts, empty, idle, earthly… They stood before God but did not think of God. They were just pretending to pray.
– Now you understand? the angel asked. “Such prayers do not reach us. That’s why they all seem mute.”
At that moment, the sudden child’s voice said clearly:
– God! You are good and gracious … Save, have mercy, heal my poor mother!
A little boy stood in the corner, kneeling against the wall. Tears welled in his eyes. He prayed for his sick mother. The angel touched his chest and the old man saw the child’s heart. There was sadness and love.
“These are the prayers we hear,” said the angel.