“Make us is to pray thankfully…………………Our father who art in Heaven”
Why continuous prayer is so important. How can prayer be a continuous process of day to day life? “Pray without ceasing ,”says St Paul (1 Thess 5:17) and Luke 11:1 says , “Lord, teach us to pray”. The latter is of course followed by one of the most profound words of Christ when he taught us to pray, “Our Father who art in Heaven”. But , did Jesus taught us only this prayer? . At the Last supper, Jesus taught his disciples to pray in his name:
”If you ask anything in My name, I will do it (John 14:14)……….ask and you will receive (16:24)”. This new prayer given by Christ on this day of his passion made significant turning point for the Apostles. Today we know this prayer as Jesus Prayer.
In this series of article, I will be sharing thoughts on Jesus prayer and the importance of Prayer rope in Orthodoxy.
- Jesus Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
As a matter of fact, there is no specific reference to the Jesus Prayer, until the rise of Monasticism in the fourth and fifth century. The Desert fathers of Egypt used to practice what is often termed as “Monologic” prayer, meaning the frequent repetition of a single word or phrase. According to St Augustine, “The Brethren of Egypt offer prayers that are frequent and brief” these prayers had the name of Jesus in it.
The first immergence of a defined prayer with name of Jesus in it , is found in St Diadochus of Photice. Where Diadochus teaches us that the frequent repetition of prayer with name of Jesus in it can help us to control our wandering imagination. Following this tradition, different fathers began using prayers,
Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me
Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner
And the latter phrase got universally accepted as the standard format of Jesus Prayer.
- The power of this Jesus Prayer
Whatever may be the format, varying specially in Russian and Greek churches . The ultimate purpose of this prayer is to use the most powerful name, the name of our Lord Jesus. The unchanging element in Jesus prayer is the Holy name of Jesus itself, which gives the prayer its uniqueness and force. In the words of St Theophan the Recluse,
“The Jesus prayer is like any other prayer. It is stronger than all other prayers only in virtue of the all-powerful name of Jesus, Our Lord and Savior”.
The idea is to spend every day practicing this prayer. No matter how many times we pray, more or less; not like a robot but sincerely. Jesus prayer when recited during other time helps us to sharpen the ability to “tune in” to the presence of God, just as we practice the scales to “tune in” to the musical pitch.
- How important is to share this knowledge of Jesus Prayer.
As I mentioned above , there is no reference of Jesus prayer until the emergence of Monasticism in the soil of Egypt and Palestine. But in many parts it was unknown for a long time. St Gregory of Sinai was once searching for someone who can teach him, Jesus prayer. He travelled from Jerusalem to Crete where he learned Jesus prayer and brought this tradition into Holy Mountain of Athos, where he spent his life in solitude reciting Jesus prayer.
See with gaining the knowledge about Jesus prayer , we get liable to teach and share this knowledge to other. Sharing doesn’t mean just by words but sharing through our experiences. Jesus prayer is one of the most powerful weapon to deal with worldly life because the very Name of God is power, which possess all authority. Its not magical but its sharpens us to be in tune with God, listening to even our own soul . As St Ignatius Brianchaninov says,
“How can we expect God to listen to us when we pray, if we do not take the trouble to listen ourselves?”
It’s not a magical word as St Theophan says,
“Jesus prayer is not a talisman, it’s power comes from faith in the Lord and from deep union of the mind and heart with him……… A mere repetition of the words does not signify anything.”
To be continued…….
Reference: 1)The Jesus Prayer: The Ancient Desert Prayer
2) On the Prayer of Jesus