How should we understand the “nature-energies”, or the “essence-energies” distinction in St. Gregory Palamas?
As I have already pointed out, for St. Gregory both the “nature of God” and the “essence of God” refer to one and the same thing: the inner being of God the Holy Trinity, that is, to what God is (see Question 3 above). Now in St. Gregory and the Holy Fathers, the “energy” or “energies” of God (Palamas uses the singular and the plural forms interchangeably), are synonymous with God’s grace, God’s life, God’s kingdom (reign) and power, etc. In other words, even though the “energy” of God is one, and signifies the presence of the One God, when St. Gregory refers to the “energies” of God (in the plural), he is referring to the many and different ways by which the One God is Himself involved in the life of His creature.
God is directly involved in our lives - He does not communicate with us indirectly, through created symbols and effects, as is believed by the Latin-speaking post-Augustinian theological tradition of the West - His grace signifies His immediate presence. So, when we pray to God - remember, the nature of prayer was the central question for the Hesychasts - God Himself is present; so His communication with us is direct and unmediated - God is Himself directly present in the world, He is present in the lives of His reasonable creatures: both the angelic powers and human beings.