A disciple once came to Abba Joseph, saying, “Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, my little fast, and my little prayer. And according as I am able, I strive to cleanse my mind of all evil thoughts and my heart of all evil intents. Now, what more should I do?” Abba Joseph rose up and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He answered, “Why not be totally changed into fire?”

I found this short little story about Joseph, one of the Desert Fathers, in Richard Foster’s book “Prayer.” I’ve kept Foster’s wording because it stunned me in my tracks. What a beautiful illustration of a fundamental truth of the spiritual life- that it is about more than just participation, it is about transformation. We miss the point when we think small. The goal of our little prayers, and our little fasts should be to be completely transformed by the one who is the Consuming Fire!

Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear…

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