“When the holy Abba Anthony lived in the desert he was beset with akedia (accidie), and attacked by many sinful thoughts. He said to God, “Lord I want to be saved but these thoughts to do not leave me alone; what shall I do in my affliction? How can I be saved?” A short while afterwards, when he got up to go out. Anthony saw a man like himself sitting at his work, getting up from his work to pray, then sitting down and plaiting a rope, then getting up again to pray. It was an angel of the Lord sent to correct and reassure him. He heard the angel saying to him, “Do this and you will be saved.” At these words, Anthony was filled with joy and courage. He did this and he was saved.” (Sayings of the Desert Fathers:The Alphabetical Collection, trans. Ward, page 1)
What is the council for people attacked by akedia? The advice that is given is to act as if you are faithful and that you believe no matter how you feel. What is asked of us is a standing, an enduring. It is not thinking. You endure the thoughts (in Greek: logismoi) without analyzing them. You don’t try to figure it out. All we can do is be illumined by God when we are attacked by thoughts and depression. You do your work and you say your prayer and you don’t move. Work and Pray. You do what you have got to do. Be faithful in little you inherit much. Do what is before you to do, with a prayer, you just do it.
The value of a close friend who knows everything about us (father confessor, therapist certainly can be a help in this area) can not be underestimated. What we need is to have someone who is near us. To beat this demon we need an encourager. We have got to have joyful people around us.
I know it sounds a little like white knuckling it. But doing the work that is set before us is not trying harder it is just simply waiting.
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.