Prayer for the Indwelling of the Spirit

Holy Spirit, powerful Consoler, sacred Bond of the Father and the Son, Hope of the afflicted, descend into my heart and establish in it Your loving dominion. Enkindle in my tepid soul the fire of Your Love so that I may be wholly subject to You. We believe that when you dwell in us, You also prepare a dwelling for the Father and the Son. Deign, therefore, to come to me, Consoler of abandoned souls, and Protector of the needy. Help the afflicted, strengthen the weak, and support the wavering. Come and purify me, Let no evil desire take possession of me. You love the humble and resist the proud. Come to me, Glory of the living, and Hope of the dying. Lead me by Your grace that I may always be pleasing to you. Amen.



The Jesus Prayer

 

The purpose of this brief article is merely to introduce the reader to the practice of the Jesus Prayer or the prayer of the heart.

Prayer is the center of our Christian being, the root of our experience of Jesus as the Risen Lord and Savior. Saint Paul insists the Christians of first century Thessalonica to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  And in his letter to Rome, the Apostle teaches the Christian community there to “be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12).  He not only advices unceasing prayer of the Christians in his care, but does it himself. “We constantly thank God for you” (1 Thessalonians. 2:13) he pens in his letter to the Thessalonian community; and he comforts Timothy, his “true child in the faith” (1Timothy 1:2) with the words: “Always I remember you in my prayers” (2 Timothy 1:3).

Prayer is all of life. Prayer is as essential to our life as breathing. To a certain extent, pray means to think and live our entire life in the Presence of God. A Russian and French theologian, writer, and professor of theology Paul Evdokimov has observed: “Our whole life, every act and gesture, even a smile must become a hymn or adoration, an offering, a prayer. We must become prayer-prayer incarnate.” This is what Saint Paul means when he writes to the Corinthians that “whatever you do, do it for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

In order to enter more deeply into the life of prayer, to live our entire life in the Presence of God, and to come to grips with Saint Paul’s challenge to pray unceasingly, the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic churches offers the Jesus Prayer, which is sometimes called the prayer of the heart.The anonymous author of The Way of the Pilgrim reports that the Jesus Prayer writes: “When I prayed in my heart, everything around me seemed delightful and marvelous. The trees, the grass, the birds, the air, the light seemed to be telling me that they existed for man’s sake, that they witnessed to the love of God for man, that all things prayed to God and sang his praise.”
 

The Jesus Prayer is offered as a means of concentration, as a focal point for our inner life. The most frequently used form of the Jesus Prayer is: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” It can be used for worship, petition, intercession, invocation, adoration, and thanksgiving.

Greek Orthodox Christians, in particular, use a “prayer rope”, a knotted cord of 33, 50, or 100 knots.  Many Roman Catholics use a traditional Rosary praying the Jesus Prayer in place of the Rosary prayers.  Anglicans and others who are not Orthodox or Roman Catholic use a form known as “Anglican Prayer Beads” or the Anglican Rosary.   

Anthony DeMello, S.J. in his book Contact With God says, “I don’t know why it is, but the fingering of beads brings to many people peace and prayerfulness; it is probably because it brings rhythm into the prayer.”  

Growth in prayer has no end,” Russian Orthodox Saint Theophan the Recluse informs us. “If this growth ceases, it means that life ceases.” The way of the heart is infinite because the God whom we seek is infinite in the depths of his glory. The Jesus Prayer is a road sign along the spiritual journey, a journey that all of us must take.