on October 25, 2002
Saint Paul exhorts us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). Most people pray, and some pray often, but how can we pray unceasingly? One of the best ways to accomplish this is through the Jesus Prayer. This prayer is very simple: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." And yet it is very powerful: perhaps the best means of communion with God outside the Eucharist.
First of all, it is firmly rooted in Scripture. It is based on the prayer of the blind man: "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me," and that of the repentant Publican: "God, be merciful to me, a sinner." In addition, it invokes the Most-Holy Name of Jesus: "There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12), and "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth" (Phil. 2:9,10). The apostle also tells, "No man can say, Lord Jesus, except by the Holy Ghost" (1 Cor. 12:3).
Furthermore, this prayer is awesome in its simplicity, consisting of only a dozen words. It is at once an affirmation of faith and repentance. When said in full diligence, humility and sincerity, avoiding vain repetition, the words and message of this beautiful prayer will engrain themselves in our being; as Saint Theophan the Recluse put it so beautifully, the Prayer becomes "a murmuring stream within our souls."
This book is an anthology by Igumen Chariton of Valamo, based on the notes he took out of the works of Sts. Theophan, Ignatii Branchianinov, the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, and of course, the Philokalia. Herein we learn what true prayer must be, its fruits, how to overcome the sins and passions in our hearts, and achieve union with Christ. Although he dedicated most of his life to prayer, Igumen Chariton in his humility attributed nothing within this book to himself. He understood that he merely drew from the deep well that is the wisdom of God.
We can be sure that within we also will find that which will be of great help in our search for fulfillment in Christ, a sure guide up the narrow path of salvation. In an age where spiritual hedonism (vis-à-vis Deepak Chopra) and the illicit search for self-gain (T.D. Jakes, "Prayer of Jabez") pervade most devotional works; we can be confident that within this book we will truly find Christian perfection.
on September 13, 2003
When this anthology by Igumen Chariton (1872-1947) came out in 1936 the catastrophies of the coming War were already 'in the air'. Archbishop Paul of Finland was a Valaam monk and lived through these difficult times when Finland lost the war and Valaam to the Soviet.
He writes in the Finnish translation of 'The Art of Prayer': "Two years after 1936 when the Art of Prayer was published Igumen Chariton published another book on the same subject with over 500 pages." This book had a subtitle called "Discussions Aroused by the Anthology of the Jesus' Prayer Between and Elder and a Priest Acting in the World". Most of the publication was destroyed during the Winter War. Let us hope that it will be published some time!
Igumen Chariton's book is meant for daily reading. A guide is invaluable, but lack of one is no reason for not starting to practice the Prayer of the Heart; at some stage God will help!
on May 18, 1998
My copy of _The Art of Prayer_ is dog-eared, highlighted, been read in the rain and the bathtub alike, has travelled with an Anglican friend during his trips to see family, and is an absolutely astounding and pragmatic methods of attaining the prayer of the heart. The Jesus Prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner) is an excellent prayer for working towards theosis, that is, union with God, and this book helps one get a 'feel' for the ethos of Orthodoxy, for the process of becoming truly human, as we are intended, and it is a useful book for Eastern Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christians alike.
on November 3, 2001
This book is surprisingly good. Brief pithy selections (1-2 pages in general) allow a busy person to dip in the book for inspiration. Anyone following a heart-centered path (Sacred Heart, Bodhisattva, Bhakti, etc.) and/or a path of continuous Interior Prayer will find much of value, clearly written and directly relevant. Complemented by something like "The Wisdom of the Desert" by Thomas Merton, it could get you ramped up to tackle the formidable Philokalia.
on December 15, 2001
Being interested in true prayer and it's purpose to and through
God and in a format for the layman to grasp and understand, this source has been a blessing to me. I have recommended it to other Christians and will place it in our church library. There is an extensive bibliograpy for further study. I highly recommend to Christian and non-Christian. To the Easterm Othodox " a must read"
on December 21, 1999
This book is a "one of a kind" Christian meditation manual, with notes and quotations, checked by personal experiences, and with honest comments on Christian belief and right and wrong sides of it. The person who wrote it was a monk, so there is no "learned" jibberish -- but only the real gold.