A Six Step Method of Saying The Jesus Prayer:
1. Take twenty minutes, twice a day, to sit in a quiet place.
2. Set your timer on your cell phone for 20 minutes.
3. Close your eyes.
4. Say silently to yourself, Lord Jesus Christ, Have Mercy On Me, A Sinner.
5. Repeat the prayer. Silently, one round after another.
6. Continue until the timer goes off.
This model comes from John Main, a Catholic priest who brought the use of the mantra into contemporary Christian Mysticism. He recommended taking twenty minutes, twice daily, to simply sit and silently repeat the mantra, Maranatha. The practice of course, is similar to structured praying of The Jesus Prayer, and some practitioners of Main’s methods use the Jesus Prayer as a substitute for Maranatha. The practice originates from early desert Christians, like the Alexandrian mystics, who breathed the Presence of God all throughout the open-empty suns of Egypt.
John Cassian, a student of Evagrius, outlined monastic practices (and more) in his Conferences and Institutes. In his many readings of old texts, Main came across the use of the one word prayer. Likewise, he chose his exact mantra very efficiently: Maranatha means, “Come, Lord, come, Lord Jesus,” in Aramaic.
All variations of these condensed “arrow” prayers of the early desert mystics seem to be some form of “help, God,” or “God, help me.” The early Psalms echo with a similar plea. If you reduced the core of the human need for God, and then you gave the core of that need a voice, it would surely cry, “God, help me.” It seems to be some natural cry or sigh within us. Many people even use it unconsciously, every day, without realizing it. They spill a glass of lemonade on the new couch and then mutter, “Oh, God help me,” or “Oh, my God.” This phenomenon has become a mix of casual blasphemy and international idiom, but underneath it all, is the essential cry of the Christian pilgrim.
Help me, God. We want to ask for help, so we continue to do it, in some form or another, playing out in day-to-day-events. We want good luck; we cross our fingers; we mutter brief prayers. So why not do it consciously and with structure, like mentioned above?
For more immersion into mystery, paradox, and mysticism, check out our course: The Devotional Practice Of The Jesus Prayer: A Journey Into The Highest of The High