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Jesus Prayer

Origins of the Jesus Prayer: – Originated in the Egyptian desert by Desert Fathers and Desert Mothers in the 5th century – Found inscribed in […]

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Origins of the Jesus Prayer:
– Originated in the Egyptian desert by Desert Fathers and Desert Mothers in the 5th century
– Found inscribed in a cell in the Egyptian desert
– John Chrysostom mentioned a similar formula in a letter in AD407
– Earliest explicit reference in the Philokalia by Philimon around AD600
– John Climacus recommended a one-worded Jesus Prayer in the Ladder of Divine Ascent
– Linked to the Christological hymn of Philippians 2:6–11
– Associated with the Hesychasm tradition in Eastern Orthodox Christianity
– Traces back to the teachings of John Cassian and the practice of repetitive prayer

Theological Significance and Practice of the Jesus Prayer:
– Apophatism (negative theology) is central in Eastern theological tradition
– Contemplative approach focusing on the experience of God
– Emphasizes the vision of God or theoria
– Considered a form of mystical prayer and contemplation
– Reflects the Orthodox belief in theosis or divinization
– Involves the repetition of a short formulaic prayer
– Focuses on the name of Jesus for spiritual growth and connection to God
– Aimed at achieving inner stillness and union with the divine
– Emphasizes the importance of humility and repentance in prayer
– Considered a way to combat the ‘mind-wandering’ tendencies during prayer
– Central to the Eastern Christian understanding of salvation and sanctification
– Regarded as a means of purifying the heart and mind

Impact and Influence of the Jesus Prayer:
– Widely taught and practiced in Eastern Christianity and Catholicism
– Integral part of the eremitic tradition of prayer known as hesychasm
– Considered a powerful method for cleaning and opening the mind and heart
– Widely practiced in Eastern Orthodox monasticism
– Gained popularity among Western Christians in the 20th century
– Advocated by spiritual figures like Theophan the Recluse and John Main
– Associated with the renewal of contemplative prayer in modern Christianity
– Used as a method for developing a deeper relationship with God

Variants and Levels of the Jesus Prayer:
– Three stages: oral prayer, focused prayer, prayer of the heart
– Prayer is a personal encounter with God
– Different number of levels (3, 7, or 9) in practice
– Levels are purely informative, learned under spiritual guidance
– Theosis achieved when prayer becomes self-active and constant
– History of different repetitive prayer formulas in Eastern Orthodox monasticism
– Flexibility in the practice of the Jesus Prayer
– Examples of repetitive prayer formulas in Eastern Orthodox tradition
– No imposed standard for the practice of the Jesus Prayer

Scholarly and Theological Works on the Jesus Prayer:
– Romanides’ studies on Jesus Christ and prayer have been influential
– Ignatius Brianchaninov and Kallistos Ware’s book delves into the significance of the Jesus Prayer
– The Catechism of the Catholic Church provides official teachings on Christian prayer and the name of Jesus
– Various writings by Pope John Paul II touch on prayer, theology, and the significance of Eastern traditions
– Antoine Guillaumont’s discovery of an inscription of the Jesus Prayer in an Egyptian desert cell adds historical depth to its origins
– Notable writings on the Jesus Prayer include ‘The Philokalia’
– Explored in works by theologians like Vladimir Lossky and Dumitru Stăniloae
– Linked to the teachings of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite
– Addressed in academic studies on mysticism and psychotherapy
– Included in catechisms and spiritual guides of various Christian denominations

Jesus Prayer (Wikipedia)

The Jesus Prayer, also known as The Prayer, is a short formulaic prayer, esteemed and advocated especially in Eastern Christianity and Catholicism:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Christogram with the Jesus Prayer in Romanian: Doamne Iisuse Hristoase, Fiul lui Dumnezeu, miluieşte-mă pe mine păcătosul ("Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner")

It is often repeated continually as a part of personal ascetic practice, its use being an integral part of the eremitic tradition of prayer known as hesychasm. The prayer is particularly esteemed by the spiritual fathers of this tradition (see Philokalia) as a method of cleaning and opening up the mind and after this the heart (kardia), brought about first by the Prayer of the Mind, or more precisely the Noetic Prayer (Νοερά Προσευχή), and after this the Prayer of the Heart (Καρδιακή Προσευχή). The Prayer of the Heart is considered to be the Unceasing Prayer that the Apostle Paul advocates in the New Testament. Theophan the Recluse regarded the Jesus Prayer stronger than all other prayers by virtue of the power of the Holy Name of Jesus.

Though identified more closely with Eastern Christianity, the prayer is found in Western Christianity in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It also is used in conjunction with the recent innovation of Anglican prayer beads. The prayer has been widely taught and discussed throughout the history of the Eastern Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church. The ancient and original form did not include the words "a sinner", which were added later. The Eastern Orthodox theology of the Jesus Prayer as enunciated in the 14th century by Gregory Palamas was generally rejected by Latin Church theologians until the 20th century. Pope John Paul II called Gregory Palamas a saint, a great writer, and an authority on theology. He also spoke with appreciation of hesychasm as "that deep union of grace which Eastern theology likes to describe with the particularly powerful term "theosis", 'divinization'", and likened the meditative quality of the Jesus Prayer to that of the Catholic Rosary.


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