A Call to Constant Prayer From St. Antony


Who is St. Antony?

St. Antony of Egypt lived from 251 to 356 AD.  As the first ascetic, he is important among the Desert Fathers, and by extension to the rest of the ascetic world.  He was born into a wealthy family. When about 20 years old, his parents died, and he inherited every cent.  Roughly around the same time, by God’s providence, he heard a reading from the Gospel of Matthew that challenged him and would change his life forever.  The lesson read, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell everything you have a give the money to the poor.”  Antony took this to heart, believing that he was the rich young man, and immediately decided to give away his possessions.  From here on out, his life was nothing but exemplary, one all Christian should hold in high esteem.

A Lesson for The Feast of St. Antony

On January 17, Anglicans observe his feast day.  In honor of St. Antony, we revisit his life in order to draw out a lesson that still rings true today as it did in his day. 

In St. Athanasius’ The Life of St. Antony, he recounts a story where Satan sought to tempt St. Antony to lead him away from his disciplinary life. Spiritually, the daily life of a Christian today is no different than it was in St. Antony’s day. We still face temptation, struggle with sin, and have to dodge the arrows of the enemy. By taking a look at how St. Antony responds to Satan in his temptation, we will learn a lesson on how to respond when he seeks to tempt us.  St. Athanasius writes,

“First [Satan] attempted to lead [St. Antony] away from the discipline, suggesting memories of his possessions, the guardianship of his sister, the bonds of kinship, love of money and of glory, the manifold pleasure of food, the relaxations of life, and, finally, the rigor of virtue, and how great the labor is that earns it, suggesting also the bodily weakness and the length of time involved. So he raised in his mind a great dust cloud of considerations, since he wished to cordon him off from his righteous intention. But the enemy saw his own weakness in the face of Antony’s resolve, and saw that he instead was being thrown for a fall by the sturdiness of this contestant, and being overturned by his great faith and falling over Antony’s constant prayers.”

-Athanasius, The Life of Antony, pp. 32-33

St. Antony’s Constant Prayer

Constant prayer is the mechanism in which we fight as Christians. St. Antony shows us the truth of this as St. Athanasius retells about the aggressive antagonism St. Antony had to overcome, or rather be helped overcome by the power of God. St. Paul’s reminder of the spiritual life is poignant. To the church at Ephesus, he wrote “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

By virtue of being found in Christ, we have access to the Father. The freedom to enter into the throne room of grace confidently is ours. In prayer, we have the ability to ask for God’s help.  God neither slumbers nor sleep, and so he is always ready to hear and act on our behalf.  St. Antony was not confident in himself, but in God, who is over all things.  When the Devil attacks us, we need to respond by seeking the face of God himself.

What does St. Antony teach us?

On this feast day, may we remember St. Antony’s example to raise all our cares, worries, and needs unto God.  May we be encouraged to go to prayer no matter the temptations we face today.

When tempted, a good way to put this into practice is to pray through Psalm 91, a psalm which extols God’s ability to cover, deliver, and be our safety in time of need.  The ascetic principle of constant prayer is the only way we can become more than conquerors.

If you can spare the extra time, pray the Collect for this feast day.

O GOD, by whose word outwardly sounding, and by whose grace inwardly moving, blessed Antony was stirred up to leave all, that he might be perfect: Grant unto all them that have set out on the way of evangelical perfection, so to run, that they may receive the prize of everlasting felicity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For more on why Anglicans celebrate Feast Days click here!

J. Bartolo Cruz

Our Mission

To multiply faithful servants of Christ; who will commit themselves to the worship and doctrines of the Anglican way, and who will work by God's grace and for His glory to disciple the nations through the ministry of the Church.