Silence and the Jesus Prayer / Stille und das Jesus Gebet / Silêncio e Oração de Jesus / Silencio y la Oración de Jesús

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

When you pray, you yourself must be silent; let the prayer speak –

To achieve silence: this is of all things the hardest and the most decisive in the art of prayer. Silence is not merely negative – a pause between words, a temporary cessation of speech – but, properly understood, it is highly positive: an attitude of attentive alertness, of vigilance, and above all of listening.

The person who has attained inner stillness or silence, is par excellence the one who listens. He listens to the voice of prayer in his own heart, and he understands that this voice is not his own but that of Another speaking within him.

‘In my beginning is my end.’ The purpose of prayer can be summarized in the phrase, ‘Become what you are’. Become, consciously and actively, what you already are potentially and secretly, by virtue of your creation according to the divine image.

Become what you are: more exactly, return into yourself; discover him who is yours already, listen to him who never ceases to speak within you; possess him who even now possesses you. ‘You would not seek me unless you had already found me.’

The Jesus Prayer is not limited only to monastic life or to clergy. Anyone may practice this prayer, laypeople and clergy, men, women and children.

The Jesus Prayer may be practiced under the guidance and supervision of a spiritual guide especially when psychosomatic techniques (like rhythmical breath) are incorporated.

In The Way of a Pilgrim, the pilgrim advises, as you draw your breath in, say (orally or mentally), ‘Lord Jesus Christ,’ and as you breathe again, ‘have mercy on me.’

Another option is to say (orally or mentally) the whole prayer while breathing in and again the whole prayer while breathing out and yet another, to breathe in recite the whole prayer, breathe out while reciting the whole prayer again.

One can also hold the breath for a few seconds between breathing in and out.

The Jesus Prayer can be used for a kind of psychological self-analysis. According to The Way of a Pilgrim account and Mount Athos practitioners of the Jesus Prayer, one can have some insight on his current psychological situation by observing the intonation of the words of the prayer, as they are recited.

Which word is stressed most. This self-analysis could reveal to the praying person things about their inner state and feelings, maybe not yet realised, of their unconsciousness.

While praying the Jesus Prayer, one might notice that sometimes the word ‘Lord’ is pronounced louder, more stressed, than the others, like: Lord Jesus Christ, (Son of God), have mercy on me, (a/the sinner).

In this case it means that our inner self is currently more aware of the fact that Jesus is the Lord, maybe because we need reassurance that he is in control of everything.

Other times, the stressed word is ‘Jesus’: Lord Jesus Christ, (Son of God), have mercy on me, (a/the sinner).

In that case, we feel the need to personally appeal more to his Human nature, the one that is more likely to understands our Human problems and shortcomings, maybe because we are going through tough personal situations.

Likewise if the word ‘Christ’ is stressed it could be that we need to appeal to Jesus as Messiah and Mediator, between Humans and God the Father, and so on.

When the word ‘Son’ is stressed maybe we recognise more Jesus’ relationship with the Father.

If ‘of God’ is stressed then we could realise more Jesus’ unity with the Father.

A stressed ‘have mercy on me’ shows a specific, or urgent, need for mercy.

A stressed ‘a sinner’ could mean that there is a particular current realisation of the sinful Human nature or a particular need for forgiveness.

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