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An Inner Step Toward God: Writings and Teachings on Prayer by Father Alexander Men

Edited and Introduced by April French
Translated by Christa Belyaeva
According to Father Alexander Men (1935-1990), the Russian Orthodox priest and popular spiritual teacher who was tragically murdered in 1990, prayer is “the flight of the heart toward God.” This work, available for the first time in English, is a collection of his writings, lectures, and sermons on prayer. You will discover both ancient and modern wisdom, and you will see how one Eastern Orthodox priest taught his parishioners to pray.


An Inner Step Toward God is an absorbing, inspirational guide to Father Alexander Men’s teachings about a prayerful life. But, even more than that, it offers insight into many of the deepest and most profound aspects of Russian Orthodox theology, elements that reach much beyond Russia, past and present. Skillfully translated and presented, with instructive notes and a glossary of terms unfamiliar to a non-Orthodox audience, the book gives access to the inner recesses of the mind and heart, providing a bridge across an abyss that is often described as unbridgeable.
Dr. Wallace Daniel, Department of History, Mercer University

A timely and universally useful spiritual primer. Fr. Men has so much to tell us, whatever our spiritual journey. On every page we sense his rootedness in his own deeply reliable tradition. But those deep roots permit a complete freedom from all sectarianism, pettiness, and attachment – a freedom that may surprise and refresh us. Reading this brief but rich book of well chosen and thoughtfully translated gems, we are invited into that groundedness and that freedom, invited to take an inner step toward God.

Peter C. Bouteneff, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary


More than 20 years after his untimely death, there seems to be no end to the treasures still being unlocked from Fr Alexander Men’s spiritual cornucopia. The introduction to his work by the editor, April French, is a jewel and her selection of his writing on prayer puts him in the same category as Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, who is frequently quoted. The comparison is the highest recommendation for the Western Christian who wants to become closer to the Eastern teaching on prayer.

Canon Dr. Michael Bourdeaux, Founder of Keston Institute


Prayer is the great mystery in our relationship with God. In An Inner Step Toward God, Fr. Alexander Men helps us to fashion our unique key to unlock this mystery and enter the kingdom of the heart. Not only does he discuss the need and workings of prayers, but he also sets us on a path by giving practical suggestions how to begin and live in the world of prayer. This book will be of benefit for all to deepen their understanding and personhood in Christ.

Father Silouan, Superior of Monastery of St. Michael, New Mexico


Seventy years ago, when I was privileged to become both friend and housemate of Nicholas Zernov at Oxford, it changed my life as a Christian. Father Men’s wonderful book on prayer may hopefully change the prayer life of many Evangelicals like myself, for we need wider vision to appreciate the prayerful lives of martyrs like Father Men. I commend this as a wonderful enrichment of our Western Christianity. Enlarge your vision of the life of prayer by a richer appreciation of the communion of Nicene Christians, like the saintly Father Men.

James M. Houston, Founding Principal of Regent College, Vancouver


Fr. Alexander Men's intensely practical guidance on prayer has that absolute authenticity which comes from a life which was itself a lived prayer. This most universal of Christian teachers does not seek to convert to some system or method or set of ideas, but rather shows the way to friendship with God. It is that rare book which can be life changing. I welcome its appearance with great gratitude.

Bishop Seraphim Sigrist, Author of A Life Together: Wisdom of Community from the Christian East



See readers' reviews of the book on Amazon.
Initial response from poet Scott Cairns
Fr. Alexander Men's simple but profound teaching on the absolute necessity of a prayer life could change the world.
Reviews from bloggers
Archimandrite Vasilios Papavassiliou
James Matichuk
Very Rev. Dr. Donald P. Richmond
Fellowship of St. James
Excerpt from a review by Gerald Munk
Reading An Inner Step Toward God was like sitting down for a few hours with a beloved spiritual father. . . . This book . . . is rooted in love: love for Jesus Christ, love for all who follow Him (whatever their tradition), and love for those who have yet to know Him. I highly recommend this book for Christians (Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Christians) who want to take a step closer to God.
Excerpt from a review by Michael Plekon
Baruch College, City University of New York

This is a most welcome collection . . . for an ecumenical readership, because Fr. Alexander was himself radically ecumenical and able to put not only the scriptures but church history and teachings as well as the sacraments into very accessible language. . . . The collection is full of what is typical for Fr. Men – direct, uncomplicated language about prayer and honest, humane reflections on difficulties, distractions, the fickleness of our emotions, our wandering minds and attention. . . . One is able to listen to the "voice" of Fr. Men in a number of different registers or keys given the diversity of texts translated and included in the volume. . . . And running through all the texts is Fr. Men's emphasis on a relationship with Christ that is joyful, that shows itself in love and forgiveness, and peace rather than agitation or judgment of others. By now a number of selections of Fr. Alexander Men's sermons, talks and writings have been published. Some have become difficult, even impossible, to access. This new collection reminds us of the gifts of this modern teacher, pastor and martyr and makes me hope that there will be more awareness of his lucid vision of how the Gospel is to be put into practice in everyday life.
Excerpt from a review by Erich Lippman in East-West Church & Ministry Report 22, no. 4 (2014), 13-14.
St. Mary's University of Minnesota
The current volume has much to offer Western Christians looking for an accessible Orthodox guide to prayer from one of Soviet Russia's most acclaimed religious figures, and [to] those with a scholarly interest in Soviet religious history. Christa Belyaeva provides a direct but approachable translation of Men's words. . . . This volume gives a valuable glimpse into the mind of a figure whose importance continues unabated in contemporary Russia. 
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