Tag Archives: Abba John the Dwarf

Silence and Focus

Abba John the Dwarf was very fervent. Now someone who came to see him praised his work, and he remained silent, for he was weaving a rope. One again the visitor began to speak and once again he kept silence. The third time he said to the visitor, ‘Since you came here, you have driven away God from me.’

—– sayings of the desert

Prayer and closeness to God is important to all believers. We have been taught Silent Prayerfor centuries that silence is a very vital avenue to a close relationship to our Creator. Today we exist in a world of clutter, noise and interruptions. The men and women who went to the desert felt very much the same about their world. Their journey was to escape those distractions to have a deeper and closer relationship with God. People who don’t observe silence have a difficult time understanding and respecting those who do. This saying deals with that issue.

Abba John the Dwarf was focused in his work and prayer, the calling of a monk.(a Christian) The well-meaning visitor seemingly wanted to engage the monk through his compliment. He apparently had no sense that the way to truly engage the Abba was to join in his work and silence. In that apparent void was the presence of God. The continual “noise” drove God away. Through our conversation, our constant chatter, we crowd out the presence of God. Our challenge is simple. We must give God space in our lives. Don’t insist that God comes on your terms but rather take time to be silent enough for Him to sit beside you.


Lord help me learn this lesson from the desert. Silence my lips and let me feel your presence. In my silence you fill the void instead of me filling my life so full that it crowds you out. Amen

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Filed under Desert Fathers, Monasticism, Prayer

More Thoughts on Fasting


Abba John the Dwarf said, ‘If a king wanted to take possession of his enemy’s city, he would begin by cutting off the water and the food and so his enemies, dying of hunger, would submit to him.  It is the same with the passions of the flesh: if a man goes about fasting and hungry the enemies of his soul grow weak.

 —sayings of the Desert Fathers

The old man makes a really good practical argument for fasting. We seldom think of self-denial in our world, because it is so contrary to our culture. When put in a wartime context it makes good sense. To have as your goal to starve your adversary into submission is a plausible plan. The real challenge is how do we apply this to our lives? I would venture to say that if you fasted once a week and turned your hunger into prayer, you would feel closer to God and more distant from the world. John is saying that a man who is fasting has little time for temptation, but he who is full has energy and desire for sin. This may be a way that you can turn your attention away from some of the less desirable aspects of your life

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Filed under Ascetics, Desert Fathers, Fasting