Sometimes in his heart a man draws near to God, sometimes he goes far from God, and therefore he experiences either peace and joy, or fear, disturbance, and oppression. The one is life, the other spiritual death.
We draw near to God mostly in time of affliction, from which no one can save us but God, to Whom we then turn with our whole heart, and thus approach Him sincerely;
whilst we go far from God in times of ease and abundance of earthly blessings, which make the old carnal man proud of himself, and – especially when he thirsts for riches, glory and distinction, and has attained all these – he loses faith from his heart and forgets God, his Judge and Recompenser, forgets the immortality of his soul, and his duty to love God with all his heart and his neighbour as himself.
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 ensure 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.
The Holy Trinity sees and hears me; this is the most life-giving assurance for my heart, penetrating it with peace and joy.
The benign Mother of God, the Word also sees me, and hears my prayers, and my sighing towards Her, and this is another comforting assurance, constantly realised.
Thus will I walk, with the feeling of God’s omnipresence and omniscience.
John of Kronstadt (1829-1908; Russian Orthodox): My Life in Christ