Clearly, the Jesus Prayer is not only for monks. We are told that the prayer is for cab drivers, social workers, engineers, teachers, social media experts, psychiatrists, etc. We use the Jesus Prayer to do God’s will, not our own bidding. Anyone, everyone can say the Jesus Prayer. The only prerequisites are to keep the Commandments, be a living member of the Church, and to have a guide.
Bishop Kallistos Ware has sound advice for those who simply can’t find a suitable guide. “But those who have no personal contact with a starets may still practice The Prayer without any fear, so long as they do so only for limited periods – initially, for no more than ten or fifteen minutes at a time – and so long as they make no attempt to interfere with the body’s natural rhythms.”
When to Pray
The Jesus Prayer is recommended in the morning, following our prayer rule, for some period of time, perhaps 10 or 15 minutes. This might be called “formal” use of the prayer. To sit in silence. Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.” Silence as God awareness – listening to God. Saint Seraphim of Sarov, “acquire inner peace and thousands around you will find salvation.” Spend a few minutes everyday praying Thre Jesus Prayer we will be more involved in the lives of those around us.
The second form of the Jesus Prayer is the “free” use of the prayer. This means at any and all other times of the day, or night. This is especially true for the semi-automatic tasks such as driving, doing dishes, walking, being unable to sleep, etc. The Jesus Prayer is notably useful in time of extreme concern or upset. It is short, does not require special preparation we can pray it when we are distracted. This can be called the “free” use of the Jesus Prayer. We are seeking to make all parts of our lives sanctified. The desert fathers in Egypt spoke of arrow prayers, such as the Jesus Prayer or, “Oh God make speed to save, O Lord make haste to help us.”
When alone, we might find it helpful to pray the Jesus Prayer, out loud. This can help lower the distraction level.
COMING UP: The Jesus Prayer Rope