On the Jesus Prayer

Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, 1913

Truly, we must ask ourselves what is the Jesus prayer in the understanding of the holy Orthodox Church? It is the invocation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as the blind man in  Jericho cried out calling upon “Jesus, thou son of David have mercy on me”; and he did not cease from crying, paying no attention until the Lord hearkened unto his prayers (“Lord, that I might have my sight”, etc Mark 10:46-52). So also, does the ascetic of noetic prayer unceasingly call upon the Lord Jesus with undoubting faith, with humility, and with continuous cleansing of the heart that Jesus might come and grant him “to taste and see that the Lord is good”. From the Holy Gospel we know that God does not abandon “His own elect which cry day and night unto Him” (Luke 18:7), for He gives them His grace, for (with the Father and the Spirit) “He cometh and maketh His abode among such” for Himself. Where the grace of the Holy Spirit is, there also are the fruit of the Spirit. “Wherever God is, here also is every good”, as a certain ascetic said, for the kingdom of God is there. Behold, this is what constitutes the source and cause and the entire interpretation of those exalted and sweet conditions which befit those higher degrees of noetic asceticism [prayer of the heart] which do not only possess the soul, but which are also manifested in the bodily life of man; they are the gift of the source of every good in response to our beseeching: an entirely free gift, explainable only by the goodness of Him who gives it; since he is free to give or not to give, to both increase and decrease, and also to take away completely His gifts… (trans. from the Greek as published in “Church Truth”, the official organ of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, June 15, 1913)