The Prayer of the Heart
We all know about the Jesus Prayer: Lord Jesus Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. What we forget sometimes is how powerful this prayer really is. It's a great to jump start prayer. There are times we know we should pray but we forget, or sometimes it is even hard to do. The Jesus Prayer helps us with that.
It is kind of like exercise. It is hard to get back into the routine of exercise once you have broken it. All the intentions are there, but it is always hard to start where you left off. The trick to not stopping altogether however is to start again slowly and work back to it.
That is what the Jesus Prayer does. It turns our heart back to God but in a way that is not overwhelming.
And when we pray the Jesus Prayer, just try to say it with deliberation, and that usually means slowly. Think about the words you are repeating, but don't think too deeply otherwise you will leave off praying. Practice this and you will discover yourself praying more because the barriers to prayer will start to dissolve.
We call the Jesus Prayer the prayer of the heart because when we pray it often, it can become almost second nature. You will find yourself saying it without thinking about it sometimes. This might strike our ears as a little strange at first, but in fact it is closer to normal than not praying at all. We were created to worship God, so when we do pray we closer to our created nature — the kind of person God created us to be — than when we don't pray at all.
One more thing. Never underestimate prayer for others. Something remarkable happens when we pray for others. I can't describe the process, but somehow the gates of heaven open for the person you are praying for.
So if a friend or loved one is suffering difficulty, pray for them. Say their name in the presence of God. Then be patient. God knows what they need but when you pray for them God's work in their life is magnified. And then, when you see God answer your prayer, you can have confidence that He hears your prayers too.
Some Pictures of Theophany
Thank you to Anthea Teufel for sending these along. Thank you to Jack and Angela Long and Maria and Soterios Ninos for the great lunch.
Sunday Scripture Readings
Ephesians 4:7-13 (Sunday After Epiphany)
Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous.
Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven.
The Reading is from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians
BRETHREN, grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it is said, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men." (In saying, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)
And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipment of the saints, for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unit of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
Matthew 4:12-17 (Sunday After Epiphany)
The Reading of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew
At that time: When he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfiled: "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people who wait in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned." From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."