Friday, May 8, 2015
The Orthodox Method: The Jesus Prayer
One of the foremost prayers in Orthodoxy is the Jesus Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. You're supposed to repeat this prayer as often as possible until it becomes a part of you and you just... pray. I learned this prayer around 13 or 14 and immediately attached to it. It's a beautifully simple yet profound prayer, one that changes with you. When I first started on this prayer I had a pretty large amount of anxiety and the Jesus Prayer helped calm me. Repeating it over and over and over made me feel watched for, loved, and safe. God was watching over me.
Now, again, you're not supposed to stop saying these words. So when I started to doubt my faith midway through college I just kept saying it over and over again. After awhile my principles started changing and I found myself doubting the idea that God was love at all. But still I prayed. The Jesus Prayer became a prayer of desperation of a man who wanted to keep believing but didn't know how. Finally, at some point in the last few weeks, something clicked in my head. Christ was someone who wanted to save me and all that He wanted was for me to ask. The words didn't change, but I did.
And that's the brilliance of the Orthodox method. Unlike the Latin method, which uses differing words and topics to reach the person where they're at the Orthodox ask for the person to mold to the words, to the ethos that's behind the words, to the Spirit in the Word.. The Spirit and the Word call upon us to mold ourselves to them.
The words don't change. I do.