Apart from cutting off and scorning thoughts, it is necessary to chase them away, and this is done mainly by prayer. St. Gregory of Sinai teaches that a beginner cannot chase a thought away unless God does it…. “When thoughts come, call to our Lord Jesus, often and patiently, and they will retreat; for they cannot bear the warmth of heart produced by prayer, and they flee as if scorched by fire.” In prayer the name of Jesus is pronounced, which flogs the devil, and the presence of divine grace creates warmth of heart. These things burn evil thoughts and drive them out of the nous. If anyone lacks the energy to pray, let him imitate Moses: lift his hands and eyes to heaven, and then God Himself will drive the thoughts away. Just as smoke is dispersed in the air, so evil thoughts are dispersed by the invocation of the Name of Christ.
We cannot rid ourselves of demonic thoughts by means of human thinking. We must abandon every thought, even if we are wise, and rest all your hope in God, saying “Lord, arrange the matter as you wish and as you know…” In time of temptation many people attempt to confront it with human intelligence. However powerful intelligence is, it cannot be more powerful than the devil’s thought For in the struggle against a thought we are fighting against the devil and not against a simple thought.
If the enemy’s seed is fire, hope in God through prayer is the water which puts out the fire. Abba John the Dwarf said: “I sit in my cell and I am aware of evil thoughts coming against me, and when I have no more strength against them, I take refuge in God by prayer and I am saved from the enemy.
An effective method of getting rid of thoughts is to confess them. St. John Cassian says that “just as a snake which s brought from its dark hole into the light makes every effort to escape and hide itself, so the malicious thoughts that a person brings out into the open by sincere confession seek to depart from him. Nothing so harms a Christian and brings such joy to the demons as hiding his thoughts. In this way his whole spiritual fie is twisted and he becomes a plaything in the hands of the devil, who can do what he likes with him. Any thought that tarries in you and engages you in warfare, reveal in Confession, and with God’s help you will be healed. When we speak of a persistent thought, we mean one that does not go away in spite of our objection, scorn, and prayer, but continues to wage war against us.
Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos: “Orthodox Psychotherapy”
hat tip: Sunday Bulletin Holy Theophany Orthodox Church