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The Power of the Name

By Bishop Kallistos Ware of Diokleia. A classic exposition of the the Jesus Prayer. Excellent introduction to the teachings of the Hesychasts, the masters of stillness, showing us how anyone can make use of their teachings to come closer to God.

Prayer and Silence
 ‘When you pray,’ it has been wisely said by an Orthodox writer in Finland, ‘you yourself must be silent. . . . You yourself must be silent; let the prayer speak.’ To achieve silence: this is of all things the hardest and the most decisive in the art of prayer. Silence is not merely negative — a pause between words, a temporary cessation of speech — but, properly understood, it is highly positive: an attitude of attentive alertness, of vigilance, and above all of listening. The hesychast, the person who has attained hesychia, inner stillness or silence, is par excellence the one who listens. He listens to the voice of prayer in his own heart, and he understands that this voice is not his own but that of Another speaking within him. ....
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Simplicity and Flexibility
The invocation of the Name if a prayer of the utmost simplicity, accessible to every Christian, but it leads at the same time to the deepest mysteries of contemplation....
No specialized knowledge or training is required before commencing the Jesus Prayer. To the beginner it is sufficient to say: Simply begin. ‘In order to walk one must take a first step; in order to swim one must throw oneself into the water. It is the same with the Invocation of the Name. Begin to pronounce it with adoration and love. Cling only of Jesus himself. Say his Name slowly, softly and quietly.’ ...
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Completeness
Theologically, as the Russian Pilgrim rightly claims, the Jesus Prayer ‘holds in itself the whole gospel truth’; it is a ‘summary of the Gospels’. In one brief sentence it embodies the two chief mysteries of the Christian faith, the Incarnation and the Trinity. It speaks, first, of the two natures of Christ the God-man (Theanthropos): of his humanity, for he is invoked by the human name, ‘Jesus’, which his Mother Mary gave to him after his birth in Bethlehem; of he eternal Godhead, for he is also styled ‘Lord’ and ‘Son of God’. In the second place, the Prayer speaks by implication, although not explicitly, of the three Persons of the Trinity. While addressed to the second Person, Jesus, it points also to the Father, for Jesus is called ‘Son of God’; and the Holy Spirit is equally present in the Prayer, for ‘no one can say "Lord Jesus", except in the Holy Spirit’ (I Cor. 12:3). So the Jesus Prayer is both Christocentric and Trinitarian. ...
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The Power of the Name
 ‘The Name of the Son of God is great and boundless, and upholds the entire universe.’ So it is affirmed in The Shepherd of Hermas, nor shall we appreciate the role of the Jesus Prayer in Orthodox spirituality unless we feel some sense of the power and virtue of the divine Name. If the Jesus Prayer is more creative than other invocations, this is because it contains the Name of God. ...
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Unification
As soon as we make a serious attempt to pray in spirit and in truth, at once we become acutely conscious of our interior disintegration, of our lack of unity and wholeness. In spite of all our efforts to stand before God, thoughts continue to move restlessly and aimlessly through our head, like the buzzing of files (Bishop Theophan) or the capricious leaping of monkeys from branch to branch (Ramakrishna). To contemplate means, first of all, to be present where one is — to be here and now. But usually we find ourselves unable to restrain our mind from wandering at random over time and space. ...
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Inwardness
The repeated Invocation of the Name, by making our prayer more unified, makes it at the same time more inward, more a part of ourselves — not something that we do at particular moments, but something that we are all the time; not an occasional act but a continuing state. Such praying becomes truly prayer of the whole person, in which the words and meaning of the prayer are fully identified with the one who prays. ...
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Breathing Exercises
It is time to consider a controversial topic, where the teaching of the Byzantine Hesychasts is often misinterpreted — the role of the body in prayer. ...
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The Journey’s End
The aim of the Jesus Prayer, as of all Christian prayer, is that our praying should become increasingly identified with the prayer offered by Jesus the High Priest with us, that our life should become one with his life, our breathing with the Divine Breath that sustains the universe. The final objective may aptly be described by the Patristic term theosis, ‘deification’ of ‘divinization’. In the words of Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov, ‘The Name of Jesus, present in the human heart, confers upon it the power of deification.’ ‘The logos became man,’ says St Athanasius, ‘that we might become god.’ He who is God by nature took our humanity, that we humans might share by grace in his divinity, becoming ‘partakers of the divine nature’ (2 Pet. 1:4). The Jesus Prayer, addressed to the Logos Incarnate, is a means of realizing within ourselves this mystery of theosis, whereby human persons attain the true likeness of God. ...
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Source: http://www.oodegr.com/english/psyxotherap/dyn_onom1.htm
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