Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lay People and the Prayer of the Heart

To a layman who asked about Noetic Prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me), Elder Ephraim of Katounakia had this to say:

Set aside half an hour out of the twenty-four to say the Prayer. Whenever you are able; but the evening is best. Say it without using the prayer rope - in supplication, pleading, and with tears. 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.' Cultivate this, and you'll see what fruit it brings. From half an hour, it will become an hour. And guard this hour. Whether the phone is ringing, or you have this task you need to do now, or you're sleepy, or some blasphemy is confronting you. Nothing. Turn off the phone. Finish your tasks. Do this half hour and you'll see. You've planted a little tree, and tomorrow or the day after it will bear fruit. St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil both began like this and became luminaries for the whole world. St. Symeon the New Theologian had experiences of the Uncreated Light while still a layman. He was a layman. How many laymen appear as such exteriorly, but deep down are monastics!
Elder Ephraim of Katounakia:

From Obedience Is Life: Elder Ephraim of Katounakia, by Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi, p. 196.


  1. This is very good advice. But I am wondering why he says to do this "without a prayer rope." I keep a prayer rope on me at all times and find it helps to focus my mind on the prayer.
    Any ideas?

  2. I was wondering the same thing as Matt.

  3. I think he is suggesting this to emphasize to the person he is writing to that the prayer is not something mechanical, not like meditation, but a heartfelt prayer. Other Fathers teach the use of the prayer rope as an aid in concentration. Clearly a rope is not essential for prayer and for some can be a distraction. All spiritual direction is personalized so we don't know fully the circumstance here. We all should be able to pray without a prayer rope and eventually the prayer becomes continuous and can be repeated while we are doing our daily tasks.