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JESUS PRAYER

Patience is not a simple task. Reflect on difficulty you


Remember, this is a process and you will go through encountered in developing other disciplines you
stages. Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov reminds us have learned in your life, whether it relates to your
that our simple attentive beginnings lead us to the work life, home life, or a sport. You will find that
temple of the heart. the same is even more true for your spiritual life.
The practice of the Jesus Prayer requires a firm
It is one thing to pray with attention with the commitment, much effort and time. The practice of
participation of the heart; it is another thing to descend the Jesus Prayer must become a daily practice and
with the mind into the temple of the heart and from engrained in your daily life. It is not something that
there to offer mystical prayer filled with divine grace you can allow yourself to ever say, “I am too busy "LORD JESUS CHRIST SON OF
and power. The second is a result of the first. The
attention of the mind during prayer draws the heart
today”, or “I feel too tired for prayer.” It must GOD, HAVE MERCY ON ME A SINNER,"
become just like other things you do without fail,
into sympathy. With the strengthening of the attention, like the simple act of brushing your teeth, taking a Numerous Church Fathers tell us that the Jesus
sympathy of heart and mind is turned into union of shower, and other such activities that are not Prayer is "essential" to our spiritual growth. It
heart and mind. Finally, when the attention makes the treated as options in your life. If you skip it you proclaims our faith and humbles us by asking
prayer its own, the mind descends into the heart for the should have the same unclean feeling as if you mercy for our sinfulness and is thought to be as
most profound and sacred service of prayer. skipped your shower or brushing your teeth. This is old as the Church itself.
All this is accomplished under the guidance of the grace how daily prayer needs to find its place in your life.
of God. It is harmful to strive for the second before It needs to become an integral part of your life. Metropolitan Anthony Bloom says the Jesus
acquiring the first. Prayer, “more than any other,” helps us to be able
(On the Prayer of Jesus, p 48) Jesus Prayer is Not a Form of to “stand in God’s presence.” This means that it
Eastern Meditation helps us to focus our mind exclusively on God
How long to pray The practice of this Prayer should not be confused
Be sure to consult your spiritual Father on the with “no other thought” occupying our mind but
with methods used in Eastern Yoga or meditation. the thought of God. At this moment when our
amount of time you should devote to the Jesus In all Orthodox Prayer we are seeking a
prayer. As a general rule you should repeat it for a mind is totally concentrated on God, we discover
relationship with a personal God based on faith and a very personal and direct relationship with Him.
minimum of 15 minutes at any one prayer session. love. The difference from “New Age” practices or
Any less will not help you develop the attention Eastern yoga meditation has been described by Jesus Prayer is both a discipline and a prayer. As
needed for prayer of the heart. You should then using the analogy of a framed masterpiece. We can a prayer it proclaims our faith in God and seek
fairly quickly work up to a period of thirty minutes. admire the beautiful frame of a masterpiece, but the his mercy for our recognized sinfulness. As a
You will need to measure your time to make sure frame is not the masterpiece. The similarities discipline, its practice helps us to control our
you fulfill your desired time. One way is with a between the Jesus Prayer and various meditation mind and its many wandering thoughts so that we
clock. Another way is to use a prayer rope. A practices can be considered to be like the frame of a can focus our attention on God more and more
prayer rope has 50 or 100 knots typically. Holding masterpiece. The masterpiece in the practice of the frequently during our daily life. The aim is to
it between your thumb and index finger you can Jesus Prayer is union with Jesus Christ. The frame become one with God and have our entire life
index one knot at a time each time you complete is only the methods used. There may be similarities become one continuous prayer dedicated to act
one complete recitation of the Jesus prayer. with postures, techniques and other acts of the with the will of God.
Practice of the Jesus Prayer is A outer form of this prayer, but the content and aim is
totally different and uniquely Christian. Theological Foundation
Long and Difficult Path
The prayer begins with the name of our God and
A struggle is required in the practice of the Jesus Lord, Jesus Christ. In the book of Acts we are
Prayer. Saint Maximos said, “Spiritual knowledge told, “There is no other name under heaven given
without ascetic practices is the theology of the SAINT GEORGE GREEK ORTHODOX among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
demons.” (A Night in the Desert of the Holy CATHEDRAL The power in the prayer comes from our
Mountain, p 61) To transform our being and free 406 N ACADEMY proclaiming the Lord’s name. In its simple form
our mind from domination by passions, and to bring we confess our faith in Jesus Christ as our God
GREENVILLE, SC, 29601
it into the heart to be aligned with God as its focus and Lord.
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Practice of the Jesus Prayer Three Stages of Practicing the
The way our holy Fathers tell us to use the
Jesus Prayer is to say it over and over Guidelines Jesus Prayer
There are three stages of progress in the
hundreds of times as part of our daily use of the Jesus Prayer. You begin with
1. Commit to daily Prayer verbal prayer, then it becomes silent or
prayer rule. It is best to add it to your
morning prayers as this is when the mind is 2. Select a quiet place for your prayer mental and finally a continuous prayer in
the quietest. Begin by saying it verbally the heart. We begin with vocal prayer.
focusing on each word. Repeat it 3. Prepare to enter into a conversation with
your God Humility is Essential When
continually for 15 minutes at first and then Using the Jesus Prayer
expand to 30 minutes as you begin to see 4. Sit or stand quietly and let go of all
the challenge in dealing with your thoughts of your daily life. The practice of the Jesus Prayer assumes
thoughts. Attention is important. Be sincere you are a regular participant in the worship
in your prayer with contrition. It is that 5. Repeat the prayer slowly over and over services of the Church, in her Sacraments
simple! for at least 15 minutes working up to 30 and aware of your sinfulness. Be sure to
minutes. consult with and follow the advice of your
Two functions spiritual Father. Humility is a prerequisite
6. Concentrate on the prayer with vigor.
The first is worship with repentance like all for all prayer.
When you find your mind wanders
prayer. In this regard it must be repeated immediately bring your attention back to Attention of the Mind
with total sincerity. It must be coupled with the words of the prayer. You can expect to be bombarded with
an attitude of repentance coupled with thoughts like a swarm of gnats. When your
humility. We must also have a feeling of 7. Use of a prayer rope can help you mind is distracted from the prayer by
awe when calling on God’s name, concentrate. thoughts, and its will, be polite and gentle
recognizing His perfect love and His
8. When finished with your payer sit but firmly nudge your mind back to the
awesome power. At the same time we must
quietly for a few minutes before going onto concentration on the prayer and seeking
be fully aware of our limitations in being
other activities. God. When you recognize your mind is
able to live the way He intended for us at wandering do not let it continue on this
our Creation. We know from the story of 9. Participate regularly in the Divine path. Don’t accept even good thoughts. Let
our creation in Genesis, He made us in His LIturgy and Holy Communion, fasting on your soul take charge and move your focus
“image and likeness”. So we have an Wednesday and Friday, and also back to the words of the prayer.
incredible potential to live up to. If we participate in Holy Confession at least two
honor this and recognize how far we miss times each year. Saint John of the Ladder puts it this way:
the mark, we will approach Him with a Try to restore, or more exactly, to enclose your
contrite heart and along with a sincere 10. Seek guidance from your spiritual thought in the words of the prayer. If on
desire to be helped and transformed so we father on the above. account of its infancy, it wearies and wanders,
can live up to this beautiful potential He lead it again. The mind is naturally unstable.
gave to each of us. But He Who orders all things can control it. If
through our five senses based on hidden you acquire this practice and constantly retain
The second purpose of this prayer is to help assumptions programmed in its inner it, He who sets the bounds of the sea of your
us concentrate our inner life, calming it, so workings. The repetition of this prayer is mind will say to it during your prayer:
we can focus our attention totally on God an ascetic discipline to help us focus the Hitherto thou shalt come, and shalt go no
and his teachings. We may refer to this as a attention of our mind on God rather on the further (Job 38:11). It is impossible to bind a
form of spiritual purification. If we study endless stimulation of our senses and our spirit. But where the Creator of that spirit is
human behavior we know that our brain is biased orientation to seek pleasure and present, there everything obeys Him.
very active and easily distracts our mind as avoid pain. (Ladder 28:17)
it continually reacts to various stimulus