Abba Macarios on the ongoing struggle
If we want to draw close to Christ we must first drag ourselves forcibly towards the good, even though our heart may not wish it. 'The kingdom of heaven is subjected to violence, and the violent take it by force', said the Lord. And He also said: 'Strive to enter through the narrow gate'. We must, then, force ourselves even against our will towards virtue, towards love when we lack love, towards gentleness when we have need of it, towards sympathy of heart and compassion, towards patience in the face of insult and contempt, and steadfastness in the face of mockery, if we have not yet acquired the habit of these things, and towards prayer if we have not attained spiritual prayer. If God sees us struggling in this way and forcibly dragging ourselves towards the good even when our heart seem to oppose it, He will bestow true prayer on us, will give us compassion, patience, forbearance, and in general will fill us with all the fruits of the Spirit.