Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dealing with Anger with the Help of the Jesus Prayer

One of the common issues we all face is becoming upset due to the actions of another person.  Often this involves the one we most love. When we are upset and angry we say and do things we wish we had not done.  We are like Saint Paul who said,
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. (Romans 7:15-19)
When we are angry we are separated from God. How do we as an Orthodox Christian avoid this kind of response which is definitely one taken out of self-interest and not our of love for the other person.


This is a situation where the Jesus Prayer can be most helpful.  Once we have practiced this prayer ("Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner") by repeating for at least ten minutes each day, it becomes a prayer that is always in our mind and easily accessible when we become upset. When we are upset, we will have access to a way to reconnect with God by repeating this simple prayer.


Here is a simple way to eliminate the consequences of our disagreements with others:
1. Make a regular practice to pray the Jesus prayer each day for at least ten minutes as part of your daily prayer rule.
2.When you find yourself feeling upset, say the Jesus Prayer to yourself.  Move away from the situation.  Take a walk and repeat the prayer in cadence with your walk.  This will help you cool your emotions and grace will come to you to help you deal with the situation in a Christian way.  When you are calm, feel the love of God in your heart, ask the other person for a convenient time to talk.
3. When you have a chance to talk with the other person admit that what you want to say is difficult for you to say and admit that you may not hear or understand fully the other's viewpoint.
4. After saying the prayer to yourself, begin the conversation with an "I" statement. Say, "I felt hurt when you did...."  Do not begin with a "You" statement like, "When you do.... you make me upset." .  When you accuse the other person you will make them feel threatened and they will want to fight back.  There are always two sides in a disagreement.  Begin by admitting your part of the situation, acknowledging that both are a party to the disagreement.  Sharing your feelings sincerely will make it easier for the other person to share theirs.
4.  Ask the other person for their point of view.  Say something like this, " I know you do not intend to hurt me.  Why did you do ....? Help me to better understand."  Then you have to be calm to listen to the answer.  Always have the Jesus Prayer on your lips to keep you connected with God and His grace.
5.  Engage in a full and open discussion with love in your heart.  Explore how you can both change so future encounters do not end in the same way.  Seek for an agreement to act differently the next time this situation happens.  Say a prayer together.  A hug always helps show your sincere love for the other person.


More on the Jesus Prayer 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. A well needed help in my battle against the passions.

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