Please correct me if I am wrong here...
I am under the impression that the primary function of The Jesus Prayer is that it should be used as a "hesichastic tool" to achieve inner silence.
A "single focus" which will allow one to remove all other thoughts, cares and emotions from the mind.
If this is indeed the case, than over analysis (a trait for which I am notorious) defeats the whole purpose. Being a technical writer, semantics is one of my real passions but, in the case of The Jesus Prayer, isn't it intended to just be used to focus on the Person of Christ rather than on any actions that we hope to receive from Him?
Well according to Kallistos Ware there are two main uses of the Jesus Prayer.
Bishop Kallistos Ware said this about the Jesus Prayer,
"The Jesus Prayer can be used in two main ways.
It can be used as part of our special daily prayer time, when we are seeking to pray and nothing else, I might call that the fixed use.
Than the Jesus prayer can be used during the day as we go about our charactristic activities in all the passing moments that might other wise be wasted as we are doing familiar tasks. As we are walking from place to place, as we are waiting for the bus, or as if drive a car, which I don't, when we are stuck in a traffic jam, the first thing when we wake up in the morning, the last thing before we go to sleep, if we can't sleep at night. We can say the Jesus prayer in free way.
The fixed use
of the Jesus prayer helps to produce within us a comtemplitive attitude, it helps to create silence within us. The Jesus prayer is a prayer in words, the words are very simply and are constantly repeated, in and through the words of the Jesus prayer we reach out into the living silence of God. Sometimes yes we can wait on God and not say anything, those are very precious moments, if we try to do this regularly we may find in practice we are simply subject to endless wondering thoughts. We can't by a simply act of will turn off the internal televisions, so the Jesus prayer gives us in our prayer time, a specific way of praying. A practical method which can help to gather us in prayer, can help us overcome wondering thoughts, can help us to attain through words an action of silence of waiting on God, of listening to Him. That would be how I understand the Jesus prayer in our set prayer time. The fixed use.
But I would once would add, the Jesus prayer is not compulsary, we are not to say it is the only way, we are not to even say it is the best way, all I wish to say of the Jesus prayer is that it has helped very many people. It has helped me. It may help you too. But it is not compulsary.
As to the free use,
it would seem that its aim is to help us to find Christ everywhere. Alexander Schmemann says in his excellent book, "for the Life of the World," 'The Christian is one where ever he looks see everywhere Christ and rejoices in Him. So the free use of the Jesus prayer, helps us to see Christ everywhere. It helps use to bring Christ into the different moments of our daily life. So that our awareness of God's presense with us, is not just limited to our set prayer time but flows over into the day so as we go about our familiar task, while performing those task with full attentiveness, we can also be aware that Christ is with us. Where ever we are and what ever we do. So the Jesus prayer bridges the gap between prayer time and work time. It help us to turn our work into prayer.
St. Paul says to Pray without ceasing. Not just morning and evening, not just seven times a day, without ceasing, continuiously. How are we to do that? Perhaps the best way is to use very frequent prayer, to have throughout the day moments of prayer. The prayer may not be continuous but it will become more and more frequent. And that is the first step in to fulfilling St. Pauls injunction. So the Jesus prayer helps us to make the whole world a sacrement of God's presense. Where ever we go, what ever we do. We feel that Christ is with us. Many people are called to use the Jesus prayer in this free way eventhough they may not use the Jesus prayer in their set prayer times, in the fixed way. That is perfectly alright.
[/color]Each should follow the path of prayer that each is personally called. With the guidance of cousre of their spiritual father or spiritual mother. "
I transcripted this from,http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/illuminedheart/a_conversation_with_met_kallistos_ware_on_the_sacramental_life/
It is toward the end of the podcast around 36 minutes and 35 seconds of the lecture, in the questioning and answering part of the lecture. Please excuse the typos and mistakes in my transcription, but I feel it is very near exact.
I felt it was necessary because people here seem to be promoting only one use of the Jesus Prayer, when there are in fact two main ways to use the Jesus prayer according to Bishop Kallistos Ware.
I would also add, even though there are two main purpose of the Jesus prayer, it doesn't mean there isn't secondary uses of the Jesus prayer. I don't think we should not be so legalistic in our approach toward the Jesus prayer. Our faith is flexible, within limits of course. And our Lord knows best.
I hope this helps.