Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Jesus Prayer

I've had this book "Soul Shaper" by Tony Jones for years, and have read the first couple of chapters, but it's one of those that you can't just read, you have to let it simmer in you for a while. But I've picked it up again, and what I've read this week is the chapter on the Jesus Prayer.

Breathing in: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God; breathing out: Have mercy on me, a sinner.

The ancients would do this thousands of times a day, keeping track on a prayer rope. They didn't have clocks; I suppose we could set aside 15 minutes or half an hour to start with. I haven't been keeping track of number of repititions or time - I'm doing it while I'm driving, while I'm doing dishes, while I'm sweeping. Here are my thoughts as I start experimenting with this practice.

The purpose is partly to cry out for mercy, reminding us that we need it. Also, to practice praying without ceasing. (1 Thess. 5:17) It becomes more possible. The book recommends a quiet, dim room, where you can focus on allowing your thoughts / prayers to connect with your heart. Concentrating on that should guard you from distractions. Focusing on the words of the prayer, you pray from the heart and in the heart.

I think my first problem is that I have jumped in too flippantly. And yet, praying constantly as I do my daily tasks is not a bad thing. I want to add some quiet alone time where I can concentrate and do nothing else. It's supposed to flow to where it is on your breath day in and day out.

Another thought - there has to be a balance between praying this way and praying for others. Is my connection with God more important than my duty of praying for others? I'd say yes, but I can't neglect that either. I imagine that it might actually help, in that I'll be able to concentrate in prayer longer and deeper than I do now.

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