|Posted by livingchrist on May 26, 2011 at 1:25 AM|
Years ago I read WAY OF A PILGRIM and found it primitive, yet moving in several ways. I have since realized that the Jesus Prayer on which the pilgrimage is based is anything but primitive. My page JESUS PRAYER on my website (livingchrist.webs.com) gives quite a bit of information on the prayer. Be sure to click on the links which come near the beginning of the page. I also highly recommend Rev. George A. Maloney, SJ’s books, especially PRAYER OF THE HEART. The book is truly profound and will give you many hours of deep and fruitful reflection.
On a truly personal note, since I chose the Jesus Prayer as a personal practice, I have grown so close to the Lord. It would take many hours to explain how the various parts of the prayer (though it truly is short) will echo and strike a chord in your heart during various parts of your life. I can say it over and over again hundreds, even thousands of time over days, weeks, months, years,and I never tire of it. The prayer keeps me in the presence of God, in His face. When I am exhausted, it refreshes. When I am discouraged, it lifts me. When I am ashamed of having yet again fallen in my personal pilgrimage of seeking the face of God, it comforts me.
I love and am also drawn to the “Magnificat” of Our Lady (see Luke 1, 46-55). I’ve noticed in that prayer that God is drawn to lowliness, to the hungry, to the humble. Poverty of spirit, a deep and abiding understanding of our unworthiness before the God of Gods and the Lord of Lords is like a magnet drawing God to us. He cannot resist the humble and the poor in spirit. Central to the Jesus Prayer is this spirit of poverty: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a poor sinner.”
I have prayed this little prayer so much that I think I sometimes pray it in my sleep. It has worked its way into my bones. Even when I am not totally conscious that I am praying it, the prayer works on me. The key is to WILL to pray—whether the mind participates or the imagination strays is not totally relevant. The point is to will yourself before God through the prayer and to return to it whenever you get the chance. This is why the Jesus Prayer is the prayer of the heart; you just return to the Lord of your heart using the Jesus Prayer as a kind of door. As often as you say it you open that door and enter into your tabernacle.
Another wonderful aspect of praying the Jesus Prayer is that it seems to me it encompasses the whole of Scripture within it; yet it is so simple, non-technical, requires no books, no computer, no beads or accounting. Some of the fathers of the desert used beads to keep count of the numbers of times they prayed the prayer and attempted to say it literally thousands of times, but I don’t find that essential. Keep the prayer in your heart, and return to it any time you have a few seconds and can remember to do so. Jesus will work on you; never fear!
Let me say also that you don’t have to adhere to the precise formula: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a poor sinner.” This formula is great and has a perfect rhythm when you are walking. I use it often. But I have used other forms:
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.”
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God,
have mercy on me and on the whole world.”
(Making of it an intercessory prayer.”
Sometimes I just repeat slowly, “Lord Jesus Christ…Lord Jesus Christ.” Just His name is healing—I can hardly finish with a sentence; there is too much I need to say and don’t know how to say. At a certain point, adoration moves beyond words. His name is all.
In short, what saying this prayer will do for you, among other things, is to make you a deeply prayerful person, lead you to contemplation, humble you, and comfort you. If I were dying, I would be happy to have these simple words on my dying lips. If I were being martyred, I would be happy to have these simple words on my dying lips. If I were, this day, before the judgment seat of the almighty God, I would be happy to have these simple words on my lips.
This orthodox website contains some wonderful information about the history and meaning of the prayer, as well as ways of praying it. Be sure to see the recommended sites at the bottom of the page.
I particularly liked this one:
I have, by no means, read all of the articles or seen the websites; but I look forward to doing so!