The Jesus Prayer

Excerpts from ‘A Night in the Desert of the Holy Mountain’

It is necessary that we live in Christ, the Word of God and become Christ and the Word of God in grace. This is achieved when we live in Church and participate in its holy mysteries. For, “Church is manifested in the holy mysteries, not as in symbols, but like the members of the body in the heart and like the branches of the plant in the root and, as the Lord said, like the vine branches in the vineyard” (Kavasilas).

This is achieved with the invocation of the name of Jesus and the reciting of the Jesus prayer. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”, especially as the Jesus prayer is very closely connected with the Holy Communion. All the theology of our holy Orthodox Church is hidden in this small prayer. That is why we would always meditate on the most sweet and joy-bringing name of Jesus. The Jesus prayer is not only for monks. Certainly, they have the possibility to live continually with it.

However, we, also, who are sinners can say it. Let us set aside a certain time for this purpose and begin by saying the prayer for ten minutes in the morning and ten at night, as undistractedly as possible. It is very important that we fix even a short time which we should not break.

In the course of time this certain hour will become longer and will sweeten the soul, the lips …. Let us say it even when we walk in the street and before falling asleep. Whenever we have spare time. Let man and wife or all the family say it in the morning and in the evening for a few minutes. One of them should recite it calmly and peacefully and the rest of them listen to it. Much grace will come then to the family. There are many couples and families that practiced it and saw miracles in their lives…. Those who want to go deeper in prayer need an experienced director. At the same time we should coordinate with His work and His teaching. By keeping the commandments we also receive grace, the entire Holy Trinity. According to St. Maximos, “he who has received and kept a commandment, has, mystically, the Holy Trinity”.

From the Epilogue of ‘A Night in the Desert of the Holy Mountain’, by Archimandrite (now Bishop) Hierotheos Vlachos.