St.Theophan The Recluse
Yes, when a man resolves to serve the Lord, all this cries out to him. It would be good if these were but light thoughts, but no — they penetrate to the depths of the soul, stun it and lure it to their side, just as a hook catches a live body and tugs it to itself. What can a man do?
Help is near.... Just use some effort and you will overcome it, but use force prudently. Prayerfully confirming yourself, as we said, in self-abnegating trust in God's will and all-powerful grace:
1) Hasten to banish all these thoughts from your soul. Push them out of your consciousness with special force of self-action, back into that hidden place from whence they came and return the calm to your heart; for until you calm your heart, you will not be able to do anything more. First of all, do not entertain them at all and do not enter into conversation with them, even though it be antagonistic. A throng of foolish people will soon scatter if you are tough with them from the start. If you say a condescending word to one of them, to a second or a third, they will gather courage and become insistent in their demands. The throng of tempting thoughts will also become more demanding if you allow them to linger in your soul, especially if you enter into conversation with them. But if you push them away from the start with strong force of will, refusing them and turning to God, they will immediately depart and leave your soul's atmosphere clean.
2) Though this dark horde of evil thoughts may be cast out, the heart is again calm, and the soul has become light, again you need to remember that your work is not yet done. These enemies are still alive. They are only squeezed out of your attention, and, perhaps they have intentionally hidden themselves so that they might attack at a more unexpected, opportune time and regain their victory even more securely. No, you must never stop here, otherwise you will have neither peace nor success. You have to kill them, draw them out and immolate them on the altar of determination.
Thus, again confirming yourself in prayerful self-sacrifice to God and His grace, call out each of these inspirers of sin, try to turn your heart away from them and direct it towards the opposite. By this they will be cut off from the heart and should die. For this, give freedom to healthy reasoning, and lead the heart also along its tracks. Enlightened by the truth and aided by the hidden action of grace, let your reasoning a) at first remember all the ugliness of these, we can say, children of hell; force your heart to feel repugnance toward them, b) Then clearly imagine the danger into which they will throw you; see them as your most evil enemies. Move your heart to hatred for: them, c) Then fully imagine before you all the beauty and sweetness of the life that they hinder you from entering, all the charm of freedom from these tyrants. Force your heart, which already has a repugnance and hatred for them, to turn away from them to the other, like a deer panteth after the fountains of water. This way you will attain the goal. It is a short program, but the matter may not be finished so soon. We only indicate here the aspects that the reasoning must focus on, while the thread of reasoning itself — to lead to the goal — must be understood by each person. Individual reasoning sees an effective and strong thought in one respect or another. You must know that the reasoning is a key factor, but the important thing is the changing of the heart. You could say that as soon as the indicated changes occur in the heart, we have reached the goal.
Taken from the book,"The Path To Salvation" By St.Theophan the Recluse