Some monks called Euchites, or ‘men of prayer’, once came to Lucius in the ninth region of Alexandria.
He asked them, “What manual work do you do?” They said, “We do not work with out hands. We obey St. Paul’s command and pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17). He said to them, “Don’t you eat?” They said, “Yes, we do.” He said to them: “When you are eating who prays for you?” Then he asked them, “Don’t you sleep?” They said “Yes, we do.” He said, “Who prays for you while you are asleep?” and they could not answer him.
Then he said to them, “I may be wrong, brothers, but it seems to me that you don’t do what you say. I will show you how I pray without ceasing although I work with my hands. With God’s help, I sit down with a few palm leaves, and plait them, and say, “Have mercy upon me, O God, after they great mercy: and according to the multitude of they mercies do away with mine iniquity” (Ps 51:1). He asked them, “Is that prayer, or not” They said, “It’s prayer all right.”
He said, “When I spend all day working and praying in my heart, I make about sixteen pence. Two of these I put outside the door, and with the rest I buy flood. Whoever finds the two pennies outside the door prays for me while I am eating and sleeping: and so by God’s grace I fulfil the text, “Pray without ceasing”.
- De vitis Patrum, Sive Verba Seniorum, Liber V