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Index of FAQ about "Christian" Mysticism

 

What Is the Jesus Prayer?  /  What Does the Bible Say about the Jesus Prayer?  /  Does the Jesus Prayer Discourage Thinking & Discernment?

 

The most famous of all breath prayers is known as the Jesus Prayer. In its most ancient and simple form, it consists of repeating the name “Jesus” with every breath. In another form, it consists of repeating, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.”1 According to Orthodox Wiki:2

In the Orthodox tradition the prayer is said or prayed repeatedly, often with the aid of a prayer rope. It may be accompanied by prostrations and the sign of the cross. … Monastics often have long sessions praying this prayer many hundreds of times each night as part of their discipline, and through the guidance of an elder, its practitioner’s ultimate goal is to “internalize” the prayer, so that one is praying unceasingly there-by accomplishing Saint Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17 ).

Constant repetition is an integral aspect of this prayer method. Referencing Tony Jones’ book The Sacred Way, David Cloud writes, “Ancient monastic contemplative manuals suggest that this be repeated from 3,000 to 12,000 times a day.”3 Furthermore, in his book The Way of the Mystics, John Talbot admits that another integral aspect of this prayer is that it not be contemplated by the mind, “Trying to mentally grasp the meaning of each word of the prayer as we pray it would be mentally confusing. This would be a distraction from prayer. Rather, the full meaning of the Jesus Prayer is best grasped when intuited on the level of spirit beyond the senses, the emotions, or the mind.”4 John Talbot further expounds in Come to the Quiet, “[G]o into the heights of contemplation beyond all concepts and knowledge. In this, the words serve as a tool to keep one at the prayer in a disciplined way. But to truly enter into the prayer of the heart, which is the purpose of the prayer, one must travel beyond the knowable meaning of the words to a simple intuition that includes, yet surpasses, their objective and subjective realities, into reality itself.”5

We can be certain that the Apostle Paul did not intend his readers to understand his teaching in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to mean that they should endeavor to reach a point where they continually repeat the same phrase whether consciously or unconsciously. We know this because Jesus commanded us in Matthew 6:7 to avoid mindless repetition, “‘And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.”

Steady repetition of any word or phrase naturally numbs the mind. Thus, the repetition of the same phrase twelve thousand times—or even two hundred times—inevitably leads to mindless—or empty—repetition. Moreover, the ultimate goal of internally repeating the prayer apart from the conscious mind is by definition a mindless act. Regardless of one’s intentions, and regardless of how spiritual it may appear, this practice is in direct contradiction to Scripture.

 


1. Orthodox Wiki, “Jesus Prayer.”
2. Ibid.
3. Cloud, “Thomas Merton.”
4. John Talbot, The Way of the Mistics, 192, Source: Cloud, What Is the Emerging Church? 126.
5. Talbot, Come to the Quiet, 176.

Works Cited
 
1. Cloud, David. “Thomas Merton: The Catholic Buddhist Mystic.” Way of Life Literature. Accessed March 18, 2014. http://www.wayoflife.org/database/merton.html.
2.Cloud, David. What Is the Emerging Church? Bethel Baptist Print Ministry, 2008.
3. Orthodox Wiki. “Jesus Prayer.” Accessed March 18, 2014. http://orthodoxwiki.org/Jesus_Prayer.
4. Talbot, John. Come to the Quiet: The Principles of Christian Meditation. Penguin, 2002.

 

The above comes from our book Sinister Spirit. Check out this book to see how "Christian" mysticism is linked to the spirit of antichrist.

 

Author: Timothy Zebell, 2014