Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Making the Prayer of the Heart Come Alive

Like Father Artemy Vladimirov, I find it very difficult to pry myself away from the newscast on TV.  It becomes addictive. I even find myself talking back to the television set, and often not in polite terms.  Why do I do this, I wonder.  Why do I spend so mch time listening and watching entertainers whose only purpose is to stir up my passions, make me angry, dislike others and so forth?  There is no practical action I take from this.  In fact the views of the commentators change from week to week, so what kind of truth do they profess?  There is no continuity of thought other than to arouse the watcher––me.  One thing for certain is that it does not calm my mind and bring me peace.  It is really nothing but a distraction from a prayerful way of life.  

Fr. Artemy says, "If you want to calm your mind and ease your heart, try calling instead on the most holy name of Jesus Christ, without haste and with only one intent: to attract His attention and repent of your sins."

The Jesus Prayer is the most powerful spiritual practice I have found.  Father says,
To stand before the face of God, to cleanse your heart and sanctify the space of your life by invoking His name, this is your aim. We don’t know how God cleanses our heart by His name, but we believe that He does so in a supernatural way. In saying the Jesus Prayer, it is not so important whether you are “a monk or a drunk,” but you are to be very steadfast, attentive, humble, mild, and concentrated.
Have you ever tried to take a spiritual walk by walking and repeating the Jesus Prayer?  I quite often take a walk with my wife down in Falls Park in downtown Greenville, SC.  As I walk I recite the Jesus Prayer to myself.  This transforms the walk into a walk with God.  There are no bad thoughts to distract and each encounter with the natural environment and others you meet become an encounter with God. 

Father Artemy says,
You may even do this somewhat mechanically, knowing that this tradition has been sanctified by generations of saints, but as you walk and pray, try not to think of anything else. Just walk in the presence of God. ...you will find that your fevered mind is soothed, that the noisy bazaar of your thoughts has become light, clear, and direct, and that your heart has begun to say other prayers in a manner that satisfies you. You pray, you breathe, you speak to God; you are not just repeating empty words. What does it mean to have your mind in your heart? It means that you are to control your feelings. You are not to admit invaders into your heart, but are to check your heart with your mind, to observe everything that takes place there. To have your mind in your heart is exactly what our Lord prescribes to us in His commandment: When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret…”.

You can read Fr. Artemy's complete article "Notes on the Jesus Prayer" that was published in Road to Emmaus magazine here: (http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/29430.htm)
Info on Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov


  1. A good article on the Jesus prayer, please provide us with more.

  2. Has anyone read the Elder Porphyrios books? Or the woman mystic Tarso? Please send your communique to Christienyc@yahoo.com