Monday, November 28, 2005

The Jesus Prayer and Orthodoxy - again...

A while back I commented that there are no links to Orthodox teaching on the Jesus Prayer on this site. Well I'm glad to say that 'an orthodox' has posted some helpful links:
Orthodox Church in America on the Jesus Prayer
On the Prayer Rope
On practising the Jesus Prayer
St. Theophan the Recluse on Prayer

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Jesus Prayer and repetition...

Is using the Jesus Prayer 'heaping up empty phrases'? When Jesus' followers asked him to teach them to pray, Jesus said: 'When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.' (Matthew 6:7)

I thought it might be helpful to explore this issue and so I asked Bishop Simon Barrington-Ward, joint author of Praying the Jesus Prayer Together for his comment and he kindly replied:

If you look up 'vain repetion' in its context in Jesus' teaching you will see that it is associated with 'heaping up phrases' and wanting to be heard not by God, but by other people, to impress them!

The Pharisee in the Temple was uttering vain repetition in this sense, Jesus's sense.  The Tax Collector 'repeated' one sentence over and over 'God be merciful to me, a sinner' and daren't even lift up his head to God.  Jesus comments, 'I tell you this man went home justified rather than the other'. 

Short prayer pierces heaven and if it is repeated out of an overwhelmed heart, if it carries all the weight of an inexpressible prayer as praying in tongues can also do. It is like the short phrases that we utter and repeat when we feel more than we can ever say, be it 'Thank you, oh thank you!' or 'I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry' which convey our heart's fullest feeling which can be beyond all words. 

The Jesus Prayer helps us to concentrate our thoughts beyond any words and to express our gratitude, love and longing all at once.  And the name repeated itself, the name above all names, miraculously invokes the presence and love of the One named.

Jesus' teaching about prayer has so much to do with the sincere desire of the heart, and if we want to want to have a sincere love for Him, however distracted we are and however faint and feeble our longing, He will reach out and lift us up to Himself.

The Jesus prayer then becomes a way into 'hesychia', stillness in the presence of the one 'Lord Jesus Christ' who leads us to the Father, 'Son of God' and through whom in the power of the Spirit the love of God is poured out into our hearts! 'Have mercy upon us!' even if we feel or know ourselves to be unworthy - that love enfolds us utterly - 'Have mercy upon me, a sinner.'

The prayer of longing to long more fully, like the Tax Collector's or blind Bartimaeus's prayer can never be in vain!  Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift to us in Jesus Christ our Lord!
Love and Prayers  +Simon

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

New Scientist on Meditation

Steve Wynkoop has noticed an article reporting that scientists have found meditation does more than help us feel good and calm down - it helps us perform better and alters the structure of the brain: see New Scientist article. Intrigued, I noticed an earlier article suggesting that practising spiritual meditation helps people relax more and be better able to withstand pain than people performing secular meditation: see article. I've found I get restless and unsettled if I don't pray or meditate for a while - I wonder if any of my readers have noticed health and wellbeing improvements as a result of prayer and meditation? Andrew

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

the seamless garment of silence...

From Celtic Daily Prayer comes this:
'There is a contemplative
in all of us,
almost strangled
but still alive,
who craves the quiet
enjoyment of the Now,
and longs to touch
the seamless
of silence
makes us whole.

(Alan P. Tory)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Jesus Prayer and Orthodoxy

While away on Lindisfarne I met a group of Orthodox pilgrims - it dawned on me that there aren't any links or references to the Jesus Prayer on this site relating to the Orthodox church - what an omission! Do you know a good Orthodox site with accessible teaching on the Jesus Prayer I could link to? Let me know in a Comment. Andrew

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Poll: prayer beads/ropes/cords

Around 500 people visit anamchara each month - I thought it would be interesting to find out how many of you are new to the concept of prayer beads/prayer ropes as an aid to prayer and meditation? Maybe like me, you already use one? Please vote in the new Sidebar Poll (you also might be interested to see the results so far - they pop up after your vote...) I look forward to hearing from you: Andrew

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Back from a thin place...

In truth, I found it hard to relax on this trip - what have I learned from that? I think maybe it's about living a lifestyle of peace and sensible relaxation at home and not saving up all those expectations for a time away - I'm determined to experiment with ways of living a more balanced life now at home. Is that something we all struggle with? The BBC TV programme:

showed that the monastic lifestyle was dramatically able to meet the needs of contemporary people - there were lasting lifestyle and faith changes. Here are five tips for Meditation from Worth Abbey - to help you find a place of sanctuary in the day.