(This part is a continuation of On Jesus prayer: Emergence of Jesus Prayer)
According to St Meletius the Confessor, “Those who see nothing during their prayer see God”
In order to experience the true essence of Jesus prayer we must come into union with God, resulting to a total agreement with God’s will. If we consider the extreme monastic life, One of the important rule in monastic life is poverty . It is certainly obvious that if a monk acquires material things, his mind and heart are still with the things of the world. So monks deny every possession of their life and accept the life of poverty in the monasteries. This denying of our self and expecting God’s will is very much required even when we pray.
St Ignatius Brianchaninov states that when reciting the Jesus prayer we should strive to keep our mind free from images, concepts and distracting thinking. We must feel the embracing presence of our savior, his tender Love. Concepts and imagination while reciting Jesus prayer become a curtain and a wall which separates the soul from God. In some western chanting tradition like reciting the novena with Rosary, imagination of very biblical events are required . In Contrary, while reciting Jesus prayer, preferably with Prayer rope, we must not see it as a method of meditation on specific incidents in the life of Christ. Reciting Jesus prayer with prayer ropes is not at all similar to rosary or other western techniques because it leads to delusion.
Our Aim , while practicing the Jesus Prayer ,is to be only in union with God and gradually increasing the essence to be like God. In the monastery of St Catherine, mount Sinai, Egypt, there is very ancient Icon, famously known as “The icon of Divine ascent” . In this Icon St John Climacus, describes his teachings and present it as ladder toward God. The ladder shows some monks who have almost reached the summit as being tempted by demons and falling. The depiction of the monks falling off can also be seen in our life where we get inclined toward worldly thoughts when God is encouraging us to ascent toward him. Jesus prayer helps us to remain this contact with God.
As Elder Paisios of Mount Athos said,
“We should constantly and unceasingly repeat the Jesus prayer. Only the name of Christ must remain inside our heart and mind; when we neglect our prayer, that is our communication with God, the devil finds the chance to confuse us with negative thoughts. Thus, we end up not knowing what we want, do, or say.”
Is there any technique to achieve this goal?
Many people consider grace of Jesus prayer as an outcome of Prayer ropes. In another sense, making it more materialistic as a result of human effort. It is on contrary a gift from God, the free gift of his grace, showered on those whom he choose . In the words of St Ignatius Brianchaninov,
“With the union of the heart and the mind the ascetic receives the power to resist all passionate thoughts and feelings. Can this be the result of any technique? No ”
It is the grace of God which makes it possible. In Prayer ropes or any sacred art, the power which is in them is transferred through the prayer of the person who makes it. Jesus Christ is also title as ALPHA and OMEGA(First and the Last) similarly Prayer ropes are made revealing the extent of Christ’s presence in every single step, from alpha(first step of making prayer rope) till omega(completion of a prayer rope making). In Prayer ropes, the person who makes it, is liable to keep the sacredness of these steps because every step we call out the all powerful name of God through Jesus prayer
To be Continued……………….
Reference: On Prayer of Jesus, Ignatius Brianchaninov
Wikipedia: Icon of Divine ascent and contents
The Jesus Prayer: Ancient desert fathers
Christinity and Monasticism