I discovered the Jesus Prayer years ago when I found the book, “The Way of the Pilgrim.” It’s about a Russian man who roams from Ukraine to the Russian far east. As he wanders, he tries to “pray without ceasing” by constantly repeating the Jesus Prayer in his mind. He has many amazing encounters with God. His prize possession is a copy of the 5 volumes of the “Philokalia,” a collection of writings by ancient Orthodox monks who lived at various times during the 4th through the 19th centuries, which he reads along the way.
“The Way of the Pilgrim” inspired me to begin praying the Jesus Prayer and to find a copy of the “Philokalia.” I’ve read it through 3 times and frequently read different parts of it. It’s the most powerful Christian book I’ve ever read after the Bible.
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner.” The Philokalia and the Jesus Prayer continue to touch me deeply, to open my heart more fully to God, and to help me to rely on God’s mercy rather than on my effort. When I can’t sleep at night, I repeat the Jesus Prayer over and over in my mind. Often, I will repeat it during the day.
The Philokalia is about how to hear God’s voice and submit to His will. Monks share practical ideas as well as their own experiences. Their testimonies are powerful and often match what God is doing in my heart. I’ve never been much into formalized religion and liturgical prayers, but God has used those Orthodox monks and their Jesus Prayer greatly in my life!