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The Way of a Pilgrim: And "The Pilgrim Continues His Way"

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  2,336 ratings  ·  167 reviews

The 19th century Russian spiritual classic on prayer, "The Way of a Pilgrim," and its sequel, "The Pilgrim Continues His Way," have long fascinated those who have stumbled on this winsome tale. First published in Russian in 1884 under the title, "Candid Narratives of a Pilgrim to His Spiritual Father," this religious masterpiece recounts the adventures of an anonymous Russ

Hardcover, 169 pages
Published March 1st 1990 by Hope Publishing House (first published January 1st 1860)
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I'm fairly sure that I stumbled upon this while studying Dostoevsky for my final year dissertation at university.

The first text, The Way of a Pilgrim, has a timeless feel. The pilgrim wanders across Russia from one place of pilgrimage to another. The pilgrim holds to the practise of continual prayer, first praying 'Christ have mercy on me', building up to 'Christ have mercy upon me, a sinner' and finally reaching 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me, a sinner'. The pilgrim walks. The words of
Found this years ago through my reading of Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger. Franny is obsessed with the book, and it sort of makes you want to see what all the hoopla is about. (Funny story about that sometime) I re-read this during a book purge, and I think ultimately it is a wonderful little book-- approachable from both a literary or a religious viewpoint.

Basically it is this, an anonymous journal/biography of a young man's search for God through the Jesus prayer. This is set in 1860's Russia
tonight's my night for reviews about books that nearly drove me crazy.

this is one of those books. i had loved franny and zooey but i didn't think that the little book that nearly drove fanny crazy was anything more than a plot device. and then one day i walked into a bookstore i'd never been in before, and there it was. franny's special book, the one that changed everything. it was real.

i'd been struggling to maintain some kind of faith at that point. i wanted very badly to believe, and that ne
Another book I encountered when stugying Christian Mysticism and Eastern Orthodox practices. Like "The Cloud of Unknowing" it makes use of the "Jesus Prayer"

The Jesus Prayer (Greek: Η Προσευχή του Ιησού) or "The Prayer" (Evkhee, Greek: Η Ευχή - the Wish) is a short, formulaic prayer esteemed and advocated within the Eastern Orthodox church:
“Κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, Υἱὲ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐλέησόν με τὸν ἁμαρτωλόν.”

"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

The prayer has been widely taught an
Carsten Thomsen
By the grace of God I am a Christian man, by my actions a great sinner, and by calling a homeless wanderer of the humblest birth who roams from place to place. My worldly goods are a knapsack and some dried bread in it, and a Bible in my breast pocket. And that is all.

So begins this russian pilgrim his tale of spiritual search. He walks from place to place seeking advice on mysticism and the prayer life. He acquires The Philokalia, a collection of writings by eastern orthodox church fathers, and
Of course I first came across this book in "Franny and Zooey". I later found it at a place called Urban Ore. I love how virtuosic the pilgrim is with his humility, how open he is to learning secrets from everyone he meets along the road, and how clearly he describes attaining unceasing internal prayer as an experiment of the imagination--to picture your heart beating in your chest and to slowly travel inwards with your creative intellect until you reach it, to sit silently in the spaces between ...more
This book lets the reader enter into the spiritual life of the 19th century Russian Orthodox Church. The narrative form makes it enjoyable and easy to read, even if the stories are more allegorical than autobiographical. The best insights from this book come from the extensive quotes from the "Philokalia", the ancient Greek Christian manuscript about deep spiritual prayer. The narrative just keeps the text from being too dense, and provides a real life practical example of what these teachings w ...more
Evan Hays
Thanks to Barrett for making me think of putting this one on here. Read this one about five years ago, and enjoyed it immensely. It was the first book I had ever read on Orthodox spiritual life, and it was a major blessing to me. The faith of the peasant in the story to persevere and seek to learn what true prayer was reminded me of our connection with the great cloud of witnesses. Furthermore, I have learned much from the Jesus Prayer, and still use it frequently in times of stress or just to s ...more
Vincent Chough
I found myself travelling with the Pilgrim while reading this book. It is a story about a simple man on a humble journey of profound faith. It reads like a series of parables. While the Orthodox aspects might not be for everyone, there is a universal desire expressed here by all believers: to experience God's presence continually.

I enjoyed this book immensely, and it is in itself a type of prayer/meditation. My faith was enriched by the experience, and I plan on rereading it.

BTW, I read the Span
This book was first published while the Tsars were ruling in Russia, in 1793, about six years before the death of George Washington here.
At first, saying the Jesus Prayer sounded like a mindless mantra, but in 'The Pilgrim Continues His Way' the speakers discussed all my theological objections. The point seems to be that by adding true faith and personalizing a formal prayer, it comes to have real spiritual power instead of just being a dead religious exercise.
What I really liked about thes
I had read this before, but it had been years. However, reading this was exactly what I needed this Lent - some very big a-has for me and some life-changing thoughts.
Nissa Rachmidwiati
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

I came across this book from Salinger's Franny and Zooey. The Way of Pilgrim plays a central part of the story. Reading TWOAP makes me have a depth understanding to Franny and Zooey and see the novel even clearer. This book makes Franny deals with her spiritual crisis. No wonder though, this book is a great 'wake up call'. The orthodox part is not for everyone but even if you're not a Christian, this book will speak to you in its own way (a non-Chr
The Way of a Pilgrim - Author Unknown

This book plays a central part in Franny by J.D. Salinger.

I had intended to only skim, but found this far more interesting than i would have expected; i'm not the sort that you'd normally find reading a book with a picture of an angry Christ on the cover! The book is a combination of an account of a man's itinerant journey in 19th century Russia and the people he meets along the way, and his religious life - in particular his learning to pray without ceasing
The anonymous confessions of an early 19th century Russian aestetic to his spiritual adviser, THE WAY OF A PILGRIM is a classic of Orthodox Christian spirituality and contains within its humble account a message accessible to every reader. Far from being a highfaultin' work of theology, its theme is simply the ability of any individual to dwell in the presence of God.

The author of the account speaks of how one day in a sermon he heard St Paul's exhortation to "pray without ceasing", and he wonde
This book simultaneously illustrates the beauty of focusing your life on being in God's presence AND the danger of becoming so absorbed in personal formation that you cease to see opportunities to love. It is the narrative of a pilgrim in Russia in the 1800's who develops a singular obsession with fostering unceasing, inner prayer, with the use of the Jesus Pray "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner."

The prayer appears to draw his heart closer to God, and provide him with wisdom, yet at
I can see why I was so taken with this book the first time I read it. Then it opened doors into prayer which I never knew were possible. Now, years later, it seems less profound but still sweet and full of wonderful little vignettes about the possiblities that a life of constant prayer can offer.


Read this MANY(!) years ago
Martin Schoffstall
I'm now reading this again and studying it with another person. I wish I had read this when i was 16 instead of Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress".
This book helps one contemplate on the pursuit of God (borrowing from Tozer), the pilgrim's focus on prayer leads him down the path of many interactions and many ministries. While a true Eastern Orthodox disciple would disagree, one could imagine that focusing on love, hope or faith, might do the same thing - place us in Kingdom pursuits that are unsuspect
James Moes
It's quite remarkable to follow the pilgrim's transformation from a simple seeker to a wise teacher/healer. A life rich with thankfulness & prayer & hospitable conversations.

Franny and Zooey led me to this book, and now this book has me facing the prospect of reading the Philokalia (in its four large volumes), but more importantly: of learning thankfulness, of slowing down, of inviting more people into our home, and of praying unceasingly.
Connor Searle
Hesychastic prayer is a wonderful means of cultivating a prayerful spirit. By continually calling on the name of Jesus with every breath, every heart beat we learn to go about the mundane activities of our daily lives with an increased awareness of God's presence. The way of the pilgrim provides simple, practical guidance on this topic in the form of an inspiring narrative.

Much as I have enjoyed this short work, and much as I have benefited from it, I highly doubt the practice of hesychasm is w
Story of an anonymous wanderer who set out on a journey across nineteenth-century Russia with nothing but a backpack, some bread, and a Bible, with a burning desire to learn the true meaning of the words of St. Paul: "Pray without ceasing."

A true inspiration on prayer that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
John Michalski
We probably all have one or two books that so completely change us - and set us off on such a different course - that we can divide our lives into "before I read it" and "afterwards."

This is one of those books for me.
This was one of the first books I read about "The Prayer of the Heart" or Jesus Prayer. I will definitely read this one again.


Still lives up to a 2nd reading. Quite an encouraging book to read for Lent.
David Withun
I have recommended this book to others more than any other book I have ever read. It is a MUST READ for anybody interested in prayer, spirituality, or just drawing closer to God.
Jan 04, 2008 Nate rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nate by: Dave Cooke
Great insight into Russian Orthodox spirituality's emphasis on the Jesus Prayer.
This is a book written in the 1800's by a humble man who was seeking to connect deeply with the divine through inner prayer. He seeks for someone to teach him how to pray constantly and ultimately comes upon a book called the Philokalia, which is a real book. In the Philokalia he learns the 'prayer of the heart' which is known as 'The Jesus Prayer'. Along his journey he meets many others, learning from some and teaching some. Toward the end of the book you'll be introduced to how to enter into t ...more
You can blame J.D. Salinger for this book appearing on my book list. Salinger featured this book in his novellas Franny and Zooey, which is where I first encountered the story of this book back when I was still in high school. I've read this book several times since then, both as a non-Christian and as a Christian. The premise of the book is that this is the story of a pilgrim in 19th century Russia, who wanders around that vast nation trying to learn the secret of continual prayer. He learns to ...more
Catherine Mullaney
When I read this book, I was occasionally blogging about it. Here is my first entry.
"As I was unpacking the few books that I have been lugging up and down the eastcoast, I felt the Spirit nudging me, you don't need this many. As I unpacked I also repacked some books. One book that I decided to not pack is The Way of a Pilgrim by The Russian translated by R.M. French. The first paragraph of the book says this,
"By the grace of God I am a Christian man, by my actions a great sinner, and by calling
Harry Allagree
This is a wonderfully readable translation (1991), by Olga Savin, of a true spiritual classic. It's a book meant to be read again & again, in conjunction with the Philokalia ("Love of the Good/Beautiful"): a collection of mystical/ascetical writings (originally in Russian & Greek, available in English) by the the Fathers of the Eastern Church. The most noted &, in the minds of the Fathers, essential feature is the "Jesus Prayer", repeated over & over. Called by the Fathers "the a ...more
Dave Lewis
Feb 20, 2015 Dave Lewis rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dave by: Trevor Hudson
Shelves: spiritual-life
Just began reading this book, and am finding it a good read! One cannot help but be impressed with the Author's (19th Century) sincere seeking and searching of what he believes was spoken to him from the Scripture. His pursuit is an excellent example for us, as Western Christians. We often do not follow with such persistence, enlightenment concerning areas of our faith, as we pursue our apprenticeship in Jesus!

The translation is not consistently good; there exists several terminology/translatio
One of Renovare's 25 Books Every Christian Should Read. This book written by an anonymous Russian Christian and first published in 1884 is a good chronicle of one person's quest for developing an ongoing interior prayer life.

I found it very refreshing the way that the Pilgrim took his spiritual mentor's advice to see an ongoing interior prayer and then rather than questioning, balking, trying to rewrite it in his own words, he simple set about to try and accomplish it. There is a wonderful lack
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2014-2015 Renovar...: Week 1, The Way of a Pilgrim 48 90 Nov 20, 2014 11:18AM  
The concept of constant prayer 4 31 Feb 16, 2013 04:53AM  
  • The Philokalia, Volume 1: The Complete Text; Compiled by St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain & St. Markarios of Corinth
  • The Mountain of Silence: A Search for Orthodox Spirituality
  • Beginning to Pray
  • The Orthodox Church
  • Father Arseny, 1893-1973: Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father: Being the Narratives Compiled by the Servant of God Alexander Concerning His Spiritual Father
  • The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection (Cistercian studies 59)
  • The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church
  • John Climacus: The Ladder of Divine Ascent (The Classics of Western Spirituality)
  • Great Lent: Journey to Pascha
  • Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives:  The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica
  • Facing East: A Pilgrim's Journey into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy
  • On the Divine Images
  • Everyday Saints and Other Stories
  • Wounded by Love
  • Christ the Eternal Tao
  • The Life of Moses
  • Bread & Water, Wine & Oil: An Orthodox Christian Experience of God
  • Revelations of Divine Love
The Way of a Pilgrim Slavery and Freedom The Pilgrim Continues His Way

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“He who lives among a certain sort of people becomes accustomed to that kind of habit, behavior, and morals. Consequently the cool become enthusiastic, the stupid become sharp, the idle are aroused to activity by a lively interest in their fellow men. Spirit can give itself to spirit and act beneficially upon another and attract another to prayer, to attention. It can encourage him in despondency, turn him from vice, and arouse him to holy action.” 0 likes
“The evidence that man does not love God and His Christ is that he does not keep His commandments.” 0 likes
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