Prayers of the Heart

A long-distance parishioners’ home’s beautiful Little Church during special prayers

Internal Prayer and the Jesus Prayer – Excerpts from our 2019 Parish Family Camp

In the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered. ~ Romans 8:26

St. Paul said it is necessary to attain a state of permanent prayer, to always pray. – …The Jesus Prayer is a short prayer containing many ideas in it, and by practicing repetition of the Jesus Prayer it is possible to attain a state of permanent prayer. The Lord’s Prayer is very long and contains many ideas. When repeating the Lord’s Prayer the mind focuses on the ideas so that prayer isn’t experienced by the heart. For prayer to be real it must not only be in the mind but also the heart and will (mind, heart, and will, are the three aspects of the soul). Real, permanent prayer does not come easily. It is necessary to make many very long and persistent efforts in order to attain permanent prayer. We must pray to learn to pray. If we attain permanent prayer we will be able to walk, talk, eat, drive, even sleep and still be constantly repeating the prayer. ~ Metropolitan Vitaly

The Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.”– Or “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” – Or “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on (Name).”

This simple, ancient prayer is rooted deeply in Church tradition and can be used anytime or anywhere. We recite it to permeate our hearts, to focus our minds, and help us follow God’s Will, instead of our own, usual, self-will. Prayer is the breath of the soul.

Begin by saying the Jesus Prayer sometimes, during the day or night. If the mind wanders, peacefully begin anew, attentively returning the heart again to the prayer. Ask God to calm the mind’s restlessness. Practicing this prayer with humility and patience, draws God’s grace to actively work within us.

Many Orthodox Christians use a prayer rope to help them concentrate as they repeat the Jesus Prayer. Prayer Ropes come in a great variety of forms and sizes. Some are knotted of wool or silk, others are made of wood. When you pray the prayer, hold the prayer rope with your left hand between the thumb and the index finger and move from knot to knot each time you say the prayer. In this way, your right hand is free to Cross yourself as needed while praying. St. Seraphim of Sarov once said the tassels at the end of some prayer ropes are for wiping away our tears. Of course, if we don’t have a prayer rope, we can still pray this prayer.

It’s not the quantity of times the prayer is said, but the quality of our prayer.

The Jesus Prayer is not a mantra to simply quiet the mind. One Jesus Prayer prayed slowly with all our heart and soul, is worth more than a million parroted prayers, repeated without any thought or without focus on what we are actually saying. When praying, we also remember God’s endless Love and Mercy, and thank Him for all our Blessings.

St. Hesychios, an Abbot of Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai who lived in the 7th century said, “Just as it is impossible to fight battles without weapons, or to swim a great sea with clothes on, or to live without breathing, so without humility and the constant prayer to Christ, it is impossible to master the art of inward spiritual warfare or to set about it and pursue it skillfully.”

Abbot Tryphon of the Christ the Saviour Monastery on Vashon Island in Washington says: “There is a common misconception concerning the word “mercy”, used throughout the liturgical services of the Church, as well as our private prayers, and the Jesus Prayer. It is a given that we are all sinners, but the asking for God’s mercy is not limited to asking His forgiveness, or begging God to overlook our sinfulness. When we pray forty Lord have mercies, we are recognizing that EVERYTHING proceeds out of God’s mercy. The air we breathe, the health we enjoy, the food on our table, the water in our tap, the friendships we treasure, our family, and everything good, flows out upon us through God’s mercy. Lord Jesus Christ have mercy.”

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner – contains our entire Orthodox confession of faith; all dogma is built on it. If you say it attentively, then the Lord will gradually purify your inner world.” ~ Fr. Nikolai Vedernikov

Every prayer must come from the heart, and any other prayer is no prayer at all. Prayer-book prayers, your own prayers, and very short prayers, all must issue forth from the heart to God, seen before you. And still more must this be so with the Jesus Prayer ~ St. Theophan the Recluse

Jesus Prayer sung in Slavonic (Women’s Voice)
Jesus Prayer sung in English (Women’s Voice)
Jesus Prayer sung in English (4 Part Choir)
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