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, have mercy upon me,” or, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
This is to be repeated throughout the day. J.P. Moreland and Klaus Issler of Biola University recommend saying the Jesus Prayer 300 times a day (The Lost Virtue of Happiness, p. 90).
The ancient monastic contemplative manuals suggest that it be said from 3,000 to 12,000 times a day (Tony Jones, The Sacred Way, p. 60).
This is supposed to keep one’s mind centered on Christ and sensitive to His will.
“As you do, something will begin to happen to you. God will slowly begin to occupy the center of your attention” (The Lost Virtue of Happiness, pp. 90, 92, 93).
Commonly the practitioner is taught not to think on the words but to allow them to speak to him “intuitively.” John Michael Talbot says that the practitioner should “go into the heights of contemplation beyond all concepts and knowledge” (Come to the Quiet, p. 176). He says further:
“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” (Talbot, The Way of the Mystics, p. 192).
This is always the real mystical objective.
The above is excerpted from CONTEMPLATIVE MYSTICISM: A POWERFUL ECUMENICAL BOND. ISBN 978-1-58318-113-3. Contemplative mysticism, which originated with Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox monasticism, is permeating every branch of Christianity today, including the Southern Baptist Convention. In this book we document the fact that Catholic mysticism leads inevitably to a broadminded ecumenical philosophy and to capitulation to heresies. For many, this path has led to interfaith dialogue, Buddhism, Hinduism, universalism, pantheism, panentheism, even goddess theology. One chapter is dedicated to exposing the heresies of Richard Foster: “Evangelicalism’s Mystical Sparkplug.” We describe major contemplative practices, such as centering prayer, visualizing prayer, the Jesus Prayer, Lectio Divina, and the labyrinth. We look at the history of Roman Catholic monasticism which birthed contemplative prayer, and we examine the errors of contemplative mysticism. In the Biographical Catalog of Contemplative Mystics we look at the lives and beliefs of 60 of the major figures in the contemplative movement, including Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, John of the Cross, Brennan Manning, Thomas Merton, Teresa of Avila, Richard Foster, and Dallas Willard. The book contains an extensive index. 482 pages. Available in print and eBook editions from Way of Life Literature, www.wayoflife.org.
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