Thursday, 3 May 2012

Jesus prayer

In All Things Made New, I write in detail about the Lord's Prayer and the Rosary, but not the "Jesus Prayer", which is an equally profound expression of Christian spirituality. The prayer is a form of rhythmic invocation using the divine name "Jesus" – at its simplest, the phrase "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me," or in expanded form, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner." Dmitru Staniloe, in his wonderful book Orthodox Spirituality, writes that one may first try to synchronize the words of the prayer with the beats of one's heart, and then – when that rhythm has become established – with a slow inbreath and outbreath ("Lord Jesus Christ" on the inbreath). But if the prayer consisted only of habitual repetition it could become mechanical. This is not the object, for the emphasis must be not on the words but on the "thought of each word" – the repetition of meanings, until "the heart cannot beat without the mind seeing Him" and one can understand the language of all God's creatures as they pray to Him each in their own way.

Icon of Our Lady of the Sign by Solrunn Nes.

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