“The demons, who are always waging war against us, try to prevent us from performing actions that are within our power and that would help us to acquire the virtues, while at the same time they suggest ways of accomplishing things that in fact are impossible or else out of place. …
“With those who live in the world and are associated with the material things that feed the passions, the demons wage war through practical activities; while with those who dwell in the wilderness, where material things are rare, they fight by troubling them with vile thoughts. …
“Being servants of love and peace, the angels rejoice over our repentance and our progress in holiness. Hence they try to develop spiritual contemplation within us and they cooperate with us in achieving of every form of blessing. The demons, on the contrary, … rejoice when holiness diminishes in us, and they attempt to seduce our souls with shameful fantasies.” ~The Philokalia
You might thing that it is easy to tell demons from angels, but unfortunately, it isn’t. Likewise, it is often hard to tell, when we feel a desire to do something, if the desire originates with the whispering of the demons or the urging of the angels. This quote from “The Philokalia,” a sacred book of the Eastern Orthodox Church, can go a long way in helping us know.
The Ways of Demons
When it come to the manipulations of the demons, it is almost always to encourage materialistic pursuits instead of spiritual ones. Materialistic pursuits are not limited to buying material objects, but using them as well. You might be thinking about attending a spiritual convention, for example, but the demons will remind you that you will miss a big game on TV if you do. You may want to donate to a church or spiritual school, but the demons will try to convince you to buy a new car instead. And if they can’t control you in that way, they will try to turn people against each other causing the formation of tribes, clubs, gangs, and leading to wars. They will even go so far as to cause you to do things that will make you sick or cause injury to avoid you from getting involved in spiritual matters.
The Ways of Angels
Angels, unlike demons, do not try to force us to behave in a certain way because they believe that we should make those choices ourselves. What they will do, for the most part, is try to prevent the demons and devils from controlling us. Once we have committed ourselves to following a spiritual way of life, the angels will help guide us, but will seldom directly interfere. The angels and Beings of Light are only interested in saving our souls, not our bodies, not our brain-minds, not our egos. An angel isn’t going to help you win the lottery, or buy a house, or marry a rich guy. They may help you in a very limited way with such matters as finding a new job only when the lack of a job is preventing you from engaging in needed spiritual activities.
The Way to Pray
This should all help guide you in knowing how to pray properly. The purpose of prayer is to communicate with God and the angels, not to give them orders (as if God would actually take orders from us!). If you’re idea of prayer is to ask God to help you get a new car, or win the lottery, or win a football game, You are asking for the things of demons and therefore you are praying to demons, not God. When you pray to God, ask Him to awaken and nourish your soul with His Divine Light, the daily “bread” that Jesus asked for. Ask God to talk to you and let you know how you can better serve Him, don’t ask Him to serve you. When you pray properly, your prayers do get answered, just be sure you are praying to God and His Angels, and not to devils and demons.