Does God require more in terms of prayers, fasting, devotion, etc., from the father monks than from laypeople?
Yes, undoubtedly. More is required of the monks because they are in a situation of complete dedication to the Lord, in contrast to laypeople who have other commitments which distract them. Even so, all are required to strive for holiness and perfection.
The Lord Jesus said: ” be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48) This commandment was intended for all people, long before the monastic orders arose.
The degrees of perfection and holiness which each person can attain, however, differ from one individual to another.
When it comes to prayers, the seven prayers are required of every Orthodox believer, and David the prophet, even though he had many responsibilities as king, used to pray them, as he says in his psalm: ” Seven times a day I praise You, Because of Your righteous judgments.” (Ps. 119:164) Likewise the night prayers are required of all, and David prayed them too. (Ps. 119:148).
The rituals of the monks, though, involve constant, uninterrupted prayers.
This is something which laypeople cannot do because of their need to spend time in work and with their families and in various activities and services. Nevertheless, the commandment is to, “pray without ceasing,” (1 Thes. 5:17), and, “men always ought to pray and not lose heart. ” (Luke 18:1), and this was addressed to all people, long before monasticism.
Every individual ought to persevere in prayer as much as they can.
When it comes to fasting, all Orthodox believers, except for babies, children, pregnant and nursing women, old people and those who are unwell, are all required to observe all the fasts of the Coptic Church.
The monks, on the other hand, have their own special ritual which involves certain degrees of abstinence. Some of them might abstain wholly from food for days and do not eat any tasty kinds of food. And there are monasteries where no flesh foods are eaten at all.
The asceticism of the monks also with regard to their garments again differs from that of laypeople who live in a society with all its particular demands.