The Prayer Of The Heart: The Jesus Prayer

Every soul needs to find that peace which passes understanding. Once this inner stability has been established you can go anywhere and do anything without the outer chaos and confusion affecting you in any way. Eileen Caddy.

The goal of one who begins to pray the Jesus Prayer is to fulfill St Paul’s injunction to the Christians of Thessalonica to pray without ceasing.

” When we pray this prayer, we are making a house for Him in our heart and when God enters, he brings sublime peace with Him. Once united to God, we are never alone, and we never need fear anything again. God becomes our protector, the foundation of our whole life. This is a marriage of body and soul. This is a purification of your body by prayer. It is already an accelerated way of silence because you arrive at a point where your mind is still because it has surrendered to Jesus”. Father Teolfil, Brancoveanu Monastery, Transylvania.

On St Athos, St Gregory of Sinai felt the mystical experience was the birthright of all Christians, a gift bestowed at baptism, one that often lay dormant until something awakened it. A desire to draw closer to God, to live a less worldly life, will awaken the mystical gift and the practise of the Jesus Prayer, also known as The Prayer of the Heart, helps the novice mystic along the way.

This prayer remains the foundation stone of Orthodox Christians, and is practised by some monks and nuns of the Roman Catholic tradition, but it has been largely lost to the rest of us, especially those of us within the congregations of Catholic and Protestant denominations and those without affiliation to any Church who also seek their relationship with the Creator. To my mind, it is the prayer that removes all glass ceilings from our worship and experience, as it takes us into the space of relationship with God whereby God then takes over His showing to us and His teaching of us and leads our relationship with us as He wills. We are freed to follow Him, and positively interact with Him, without dogma or doctrine getting in the way; and to follow him with our heart as He instructs. In this we follow the principles of enclosed monks whose desire is to let God fully exist inwardly and to let God control their lives accordingly.

In the East for 2000 years the devout and spiritually enlightened have drawn upon the power of the Jesus Prayer to experience continually a direct mystical union with God. Originating with the apostles it provides a true and complete method of peace, liberation and salvation.

Archbishop Justinian Chira Maramureseanul of Baia Mare believes that the Jesus Prayer originated with Christs Apostles: “after the Ascension of Christ into heaven, the Apostles stayed alone and they started night and day to say this prayer: Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy. It was the only way to keep contact with the One who had ascended to heaven, through thought, image and sound”. 

 The form recommended by the Archbishop of Constantinople, Ecumenical Patriarch is ” Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me”. This is known as the short form of the Jesus Prayer. This is the form I use. It is the one which to me feels right and is the earliest form.

The longer form which is also practised by many is Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner” and this dates from the second century. St Antony of the Desert practised this longer form.

In the videos below, which are each about ten minutes in length; Norris Chumley and Father John document their search for ancient wisdom and spiritual practises that have been fundamental to Orthodox Christians for 2000 years. In their conversations, the monks and nuns revealed what mystics everywhere have known for centuries; that God is found in the silence and through the constant interior repetition of the Jesus Prayer, The Prayer of the Heart.

The Jesus Prayer. Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

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It is perfectly possible to hear and see God; though what we see and hear may well be but the smallest glimpse of His supreme vastness! Nevertheless, it is possible for us all, religious and lay alike to have the intimate relationship, we seek.  This is indeed what He calls us to do, to draw ever closer, to experience ever more of Himself.