A character from "Brothers Karamazov" Abbot Zosima was Dostoevsky's portrayal of the real-life character named Father Ambrose. This character expressed many precious ideas concerning love and prayer.
Abbot Zosima said that one should not forget to pray, because each prayer, if it comes from the heart, renders or confesses a new feeling, and this feeling can be the spring of a new idea, that may have never come to you so far and which can give you courage and strength.
Thus, you can realize that prayer can bring some more wisdom. In this respect, he advised us to say something like: "Have mercy, Lord, on everyone who has come today before You" because there are thousands of people dying every hour and leaving this earth, and their souls ascend to heaven.
And so many of them leave this world feeling lonely and inappropriate, with great sorrow because there will be no one to mourn them, or maybe there is no one to care if they are still alive or not.
It would mean so much to the lonely heart that is about to present himself before God, to feel that at the moment of his final breath, there is someone in the world praying for him, another human being that loves him. And God will look at both of you with love and mercy, and maybe forgive that person for your prayers.
Abbot Zosima urged us not to be frightened or impressed in any way by other people's wickedness and malice, but rather to love them as they are, because in this way our love resembles the one God has for us. This is the highest level of humanly love. We must love all of God's creation, in its whole, and every grain of sand also.
We should care for every little leaf, enjoy every little sun beam. Also, love every creature on earth, the leaf of grass, any soulless being. Because by loving them, we can understand the divine mystery hidden in it and by discovering it and by unveiling this mystery once and for all, we can see it more clearly each day.
In this way only, we could be able to embrace the whole world with a perfect, all-covering love. We must love animals because God first directed His thought towards them and gave them a serene joy. We must not upset or torture them; we should never take their joy of living, for we may thus upset God.
Humans, according to Zosima, should not feel proud and above all the other living creatures, above the animals, as we humans leave dirty traces behind us. Also, we must love children especially, because they are innocent, like the angels and they live for filling our soul with tenderness and to clean our sinful hearts, by lighting us like a divine sign.
Father Zosima also said we should pray for God to bless us, by giving us joy. We should rejoice like children, like the birds in the sky. Zosima also advises us not to be scared by people's evilness and wickedness, or think that our efforts are in vain.
We should not say to ourselves that the sin is too great or strong that the evil around is too powerful, while we are alone and weak. Never consider that the evilness of the world will be an obstacle in our efforts to be good. The only way to get rid of this despair, of this hopeless attitude, is by considering ourselves responsible for the sins of others.
This is Zosima's solution, his antidote against vanity and evil - the humbleness and love, with which we no longer throw our own sloth, bad habits and weakness on others, but assume them, and even try to see the others innocent and us responsible.
Vanity comes from the evil one and we often have troubles realizing it, and because of that we can so often fall prey to it, and even think we did something wonderful and worthy of praise.