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While living in Cyprus a few years ago, I became aware of a devotional approach in the Eastern Orthodox communion. This prayer meditation focuses on the name of Jesus in a prayer expression referred to simply as the "Jesus Prayer." I read a popular book called The Power of the Name by Orthodox Bishop Kallistos Ware.
I found this Jesus Prayer interesting. The premise is that one develops a practice of repeating the name of Jesus in all situations, and expression short sentence prayers in the name of Jesus. I was previously somewhat familiar with the mantra repetition concept of meditation. This has a very good opportunity for focusing on Jesus and keeping him more consciously at the center of one's focus.
One thing that troubles me about it is that such formula approaches (using certain words, or saying them so many times) seems to focus people on the formula or system, and lose the intended meaning.
Ware points out this danger of rote unconscious aspect. He also, however, points out that something done by pattern affects one's subconscious attitude, and CAN lead one to have a better focus on Jesus and what he would do in a decision or in a situation.
What Would Jesus Do
It is similar to the "What Would Jesus Do?" movement in the United States. This also has the danger of becoming a formula, and has the additional danger of being very subjective in foundation.
Focus on God in Jesus
I find this approach helpful in its insight and challenge to continually update one's focus and renew the focus on God as revealed in Jesus. But I tire of a limited focus.
Westerners are too activist, task-oriented go-go-go all the time, in our general orientation to life to readily relate to this mental focus. But the training and refocusing of the mind is a good balance to mindless western activism.
The booklet is helpful but not compelling. It left me wondering why there was not more. It seemed an ongoing repetitive restatement of what could for me have been simply a two-page pamphlet.
I think the general approach of focusing on Jesus' name is worth pursuing as a supplementary devotional aspect. The goal should be to see more of God's activity, and perceive God's unique call to us in each situation, and respond to the unique opportunity that entails.
For more on the Jesus Prayer
More books about the Jesus Prayer
The Jesus Prayer by A Monk of the Eastern Church
On the Prayer of Jesus by Ignatius Brianchaninov
On the Invocation of the Name of Jesus by Lev Gillet
The Jesus Prayer by Lev Gillet
Living the Jesus Prayer by Irma Zaleski
Other Books by Kallistos Ware
Prayer as Communication for Intercession
Prayer Meditations based on The Purpose Driven Life
Thought-Prayer in the Communication Event
Words That Cannot Be Uttered
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First notes written in an email exchange 2 August 2001
Article finalized and posted 11 January 2005
Last edited 20 March 2012
Copyright © 2005 Orville Boyd Jenkins
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