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Author Topic: Jesus Prayer as substitute for the Hours?  (Read 5411 times) Average Rating: 0
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Mor Ephrem
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« on: October 03, 2002, 12:24:53 PM »

I've posted this question on another board, but either the thread got deleted, it never went through (although I swear I saw it go through), or it was moved and I can't find it, and no one answered.  

In my reading, I've come across a custom which I want to introduce into my prayer.  It is a way of substituting various liturgical offices with a prescribed number of Jesus Prayers and prostrations and what not.  I try my best to pray the Office of our Syrian Church, but the books I have are incomplete, and do not include the daytime hours (Terce, Sext, and None).  And I want to start saying the Jesus Prayer too.  So I figure it would be cool to substitute the Hours with the Jesus Prayer in this way, and accomplish two things at once.

The problem I've come across, however, is that no two sources say the same thing.  Every single source I've come across gives a different "amount"; no two lists are alike in any way.  

Is there a standard for this?  Or is this something that one can adapt to increase or decrease the amount?  Does anyone have any information?
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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2002, 12:41:09 PM »

Mor Ephrem,

Indeed there is in the Russian Orthodox books ù a rule that gives the number of Jesus Prayers and prostrations to do instead of a given hour.

Funny, Nik and I were IMing about this recently. I have observed that I know no Orthodox who do the Jesus Prayer and the chotki (Byzantine chaplet or prayer beads) as the center of their prayer life. In fact an old man whose father was a 1917 exile Russian priest told me that was for monks and that his father never owned a set of beads/knotted rope. In our tradition, only monastics wear them on the left wrist.

I donÆt do it ù personally I find it boring yet donÆt find the Rosary boring. The latter is wonderful but I donÆt do it since rediscovering praying a daily office.

I have the Bible ù psalms, canticles, readings ù in the hours.

I understand part of the reason the Rosary was devised was as a substitute for the psalter for the illiterate.

I imagine the Russian rule substituting a simple prayer and prostrations for the hours might have been for the same reason ù how many medieval to 18th-century Russian peasants could read? The Church is literally for everyone, no matter oneÆs education or intelligence, and provides a prayer life literally for everyone.
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« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2002, 09:00:54 PM »

Dear Mor Ephrem,

I was taught by Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakarov) to say the Jesus Prayer as a substitute for services, especially when not in Church. At the Monastery in England, we said the Jesus Prayer twice a day for 2 hours am and pm. I am not recommending this practice - but if the JP is central to our prayer life and not an addition, then we are able to create a balance that can open us to inner prayer. Of course this is not automatic and depends on God's mercy.  It is not the number of prayers but rather the time spent.  In spending half an hour in prayer you will probably only count a few knots..as one father told me - it sometimes took his spiritual father half an hour to read Our Father!

Time spent in quality not quantity. Looks rather presumptious writing this, but let's not regard pray in terms of precise rules, but rather in the spirit of humility.

Hope this helps.

Yours in Christ,
Fr Serafim
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« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2002, 11:52:11 PM »

Dear Father Serafim,

Father bless!  

Thankyou very much for saying that it is not the number of prayers said but rather the time spent.... that is one thing that I've been preoccupied with after I was Chrismated.  I have always been worrying more about how many prayers I've said that day, rather than how much attention I paid to what I was praying and whether I was rushing through them just to get them done, or acutally taking my time and letting them sink in and 'talk' to God as prayer is supposed to do (is this right? I remember being told that when you pray it is actually having a conversation with God) Reading your post has helped me out alil tonight and I pray that I will be able to remember this.  

pray for me, a sinner, please.  

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« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2002, 02:28:40 PM »

I have a prayer rope from Mt. Athos that has 50 knots that are separated at one end by a cross and at the other by a
bead.  I start at the first knot after the cross and say the Jesus prayer at each knot breathing in and out slowly.  When I get to the bead I say Psalm 23, continue with the Jesus Prayer and finish with the Lord's prayer at the cross.
This takes me at least 1/2 an hour and is my regular nightly routine.

 I also include St. Ephraim of Syria's nightly prayer - it has a list of "sins" that you ask forgiveness for.  I am nearly always guilty of at least half of them!

Lots of young Greeks have started wearing the small wristlet pray ropes but I read that this is not correct.  A prayer rope is a private thing - it is not meant to be used to advertise the fact that you use it to pray.    

I don't think the Jesus Prayer is meant to be a substitute for the hours - it is used to keep our focus on God throughout the day.   It is the simplest and the most effective way of  praying without ceasing as we have been instructed to do.

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« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2002, 06:29:44 PM »

Glory to Jesus Christ!

     Interesting thread. Oddly enough, today at work we just started doing the hours. Right now its just a friend and I, but since I have the Unabbreviated Horologian and he mentioned wnating to do the hours, I brought it in and we're doing the 6th hour at noon. We're going to invite others to join us if they wish as well. God Bless!
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« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2002, 09:07:04 PM »

Wearing the prayer rope/beads/chotki on one's wrist is part of the monastic habit in Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2002, 01:38:16 AM »

Reply to Serge

"Wearing the prayer rope on the wrist."

I didn't know that this was normal for monks, Serge. I did read though that it shouldn't be worn on the wrist -perhaps the article wasn't referring to monks!  This information was on one of the Orthodox sites but I don't have the link.   It seems there are different views on this as there are on everything else.

I hope I'm wrong but I have the impression that quite a few of the young people are wearing it because it has become an "in" thing to do and not because they use it for prayer.

I hope my above statement is wrong.

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« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2002, 01:43:17 AM »

Reply to Chrysostomos.

"However, I began to wear one recently because I got tired of getting to the end of each day and realizing how little time was spent in the rememberance of God. "

I drape mine over a small icon of the Theotokos and Christ that I have on my dressing table, during the day.  It serves the same purpose as yours I think.  Just seeing it there helps me to remember.  The prayer rope itself is such a wonderful help with prayers, isn't it?    

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« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2002, 01:49:29 AM »

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Effie, when Orthodox monks and nuns are tonsured into monasticism, they are formally invested with a "chotki" (prayer-rope), which is normally worn on the wrist.  Since all Orthodox bishops are drawn from the monastic ranks, it is not at all unusual for an Orthodox bishop, especially among the Russians and Serbs, to wear the chotki on his wrist over his pontifical vestments even while serving the Divine Liturgy.

Serge, is correct: wearing the prayer-rope on the wrist is indeed part of the monastic habit in Orthodoxy.  Anyone else wearing it in this fashion should have the explicit blessing of his/her Spiritual Father/Mother.

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« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2002, 02:29:35 AM »

Dear Friends in Christ,

From I what  am reading here I think we need a new thread on 'obedience'. In today's literate world we can read books and make our own decisions. This bothers me since we become our own spiritual fathers. I am not talking about obeying an Elder but simply receiving a blessing for our prayer rule and any other pious thing we do from our priest.  I personally do not allow my spiritual children to wear the chotka - but that's up to your spiritual father. Keep it on your person but out of sight, but use it daily....is my recommendation.

Effie - the JP is a substitute for the hours if your spiritual father recommends that!

Forgive me for sounding arrogant, since I don't know you all personally. But I notice that here in the west there is a lack of spiritual discipline in general.  May be it is because there are a lack of priests or pious people willing to take on the role of spiritual father or mother.

Yours in Christ,
Fr Serafim
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« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2002, 03:08:55 AM »

Thank you everyone for your comments on my sometimes naive remarks.

The great thing about this forum is that no matter what you say in your message you will always get a polite, informative reply.  A reply that is really helpful.

Effie

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« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2002, 03:35:13 AM »

I agree with your statement Fr. Serafim.

It is upsetting to see the amount of disobedience we have in our culture, not just in church, but in everything!

We've become a culture of self, a cult of self, and masters of self. In our pride and vanity, we're turning ourselves into an inside-out race.

Even when driving on the road, so many people have little regard for the rules! People running through red lights, cutting you off. Where's the respect?

And furthermore, ecclesiastically, it's appaling how people go 'shopping' for a church everytime something happens, or if they don't agree with something. It's really pathetic.

Forgive my rant, but I'm glad someone else notes the lack of obedience and humility in today's society.


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« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2005, 12:07:01 AM »

Father Serafim,

Father, Bless

Quote
From I what  am reading here I think we need a new thread on 'obedience'. In today's literate world we can read books and make our own decisions. This bothers me since we become our own spiritual fathers. I am not talking about obeying an Elder but simply receiving a blessing for our prayer rule and any other pious thing we do from our priest.

I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on the idea expressed by St. Ignatius Brianchaninov (GÇá1867), when he said that since there were so few true spiritual fathers, many people might have to use books and whatnot and guide themselves. As much as St. Ignatius puts an emphasis on spotting and avoiding spiritual delusion, I was suprised to learn that he spoke of this. Any thoughts?
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« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2005, 11:28:44 AM »

Are there cannons regarding the wearing of prayer ropes? If not then the wearing of them on the wrist is a tradition, not part of Holy Tradition. Now if you have a spiritual father and he advises not to wear one, then practice that obedieince as Fr. Seraphim advises. Otherwise...

Orthodox young people wearing them on the wrist as a sign of identity with the Faith is probably a good thing. We stand between two commands of our Lord:

1. do not practice your devotion publicly so as to gain the approbations of other people for how "holy" you appear, therefore retreat into your prayer closet, give alms in secret, etc.

2. publicly confess your faith (whosoever shall deny me before men, he also will I deny before my Father...whosoever shall acknowledge me before men he also will I acknowledge before my Father) and do not hide your light under a bushel; people will see our good works and give glory to the Father

In this age of hostility to religion and the smirks and insults of being a "goodie goodie" or a "god squad member" in the teen/young adult culture wearing a prayer rope or a cross can be a courageous act of faith and a martyrdom of sorts. For a teen to be ostracized/made fun of by their peers voluntarily for their faith can be more difficult (in their imaginations, at least) than actual torture (although probably not if faced with the prospect of real physical torture; but we are talking of teen minds here!). As someone has said, there is no greater facism/dictatorship than the dictates of youth culture and peer pressure.

Also, kids motives especially are also painfully mixed. I would caution them to wear the rope for the right reasons - to witness to their faith and not to show off and remind them they have an even greater responsibility to remain circumspect in their behavior and be " a witness" in the way they live thier lives if they are "going public" by wearing a prayer rope. Otherwise, I would leave them be.
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« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2005, 08:05:51 PM »

Quote
Orthodox young people wearing them on the wrist as a sign of identity with the Faith is probably a good thing.

This brings up a good topic. Should we be giving outward signs (other than our personal conduct) that we are Orthodox? For example, I was told that an Orthodox Christian should not wear their cross outside of the shirt, because it is suppose to be for protection and not for show. Is this the best way? Is it possibly just a custom from a time and place when most people should have been Orthodox (even if they weren't), and therefore it would have been unhumble to make outward shows of your faith at that place and time? Living in a secularized society where (strangely, ironically) everyone from Atheists to Protestant Fundamentalists wear crosses, would it be better to wear ours in a way that people could see them? If it's a three-bar cross, does that change things (as it would draw more attention)? I guess that most of these questions are somewhat relevant to a discussion of prayer ropes as well.
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« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2005, 08:33:05 PM »

At SVS we were told not to wear them; former poster Serge was told by a ROCOR priest not to wear one when he converted, yet many Greeks are told by their spiritual fathers that they SHOULD wear them. Guess it is a local custom.

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« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2005, 10:10:30 AM »

Anastasios
Are you referring to prayer ropes or wearing crosses outside your shirt?
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« Reply #18 on: May 31, 2005, 10:57:04 AM »

Anastasios wrote:

"yet many Greeks are told by their spiritual fathers that they SHOULD wear them."

Hmmm. The priest at my (Greek Orthodox) church told us we'd be in serious trouble with him if he ever saw us (lay) people wearing them. "Those are for the monastics!" he's said on several occaisions.
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« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2013, 02:27:18 PM »

Is this the oldest thread?  Going along with it, it's important to talk to your priest about a good prayer rule and whether or not to use a prayer rope.  Some priests will say you shouldn't try to act like a monastic.  Other priests will say it's a great tool.  The end goal is to get closer to Christ. 
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« Reply #20 on: September 20, 2013, 02:38:56 PM »

Is this the oldest thread? 

This is the first viewable thread, though I don't think it was the first actual thread.
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« Reply #21 on: September 20, 2013, 02:56:57 PM »

Was it really possible for you guys to get so bored from all the talk of Popes, Masonic pop stars, tattooed elderly women, and gases on other planets that you ventured back in time to resurrect old threads?  Tongue
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« Reply #22 on: September 20, 2013, 02:57:31 PM »

Some priests will say you shouldn't try to act like a monastic.  Other priests will say it's a great tool. 

Oh no, will that thread be resurrected next? 
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« Reply #23 on: September 20, 2013, 03:46:27 PM »

Was it really possible for you guys to get so bored from all the talk of Popes, Masonic pop stars, tattooed elderly women, and gases on other planets that you ventured back in time to resurrect old threads?  Tongue

I said I was going to do it.  And, yes, I was incidentally bored.  But, more importantly, how do you feel since you begot this particular thread those many years ago?
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« Reply #24 on: September 20, 2013, 05:07:36 PM »

I read my original post from eleven years ago and thought "Who's this n00b?" 
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« Reply #25 on: September 20, 2013, 05:10:34 PM »

I read my original post from eleven years ago and thought "Who's this n00b?" 

So, are you still substituting the Hours with the Jesus Prayer?
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« Reply #26 on: September 20, 2013, 05:16:36 PM »

Did you ever talk to a priest about it?
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« Reply #27 on: September 20, 2013, 06:21:10 PM »

Almost every single Orthodox person I know IRL wears a prayer rope most of the time. I wouldn't even know that some priests are really against them if not for OC.net.
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« Reply #28 on: September 20, 2013, 06:53:47 PM »

Could you let it go???!!! Are you happy with YOUR personal prayer life? If the answer is "no" then why not turn off the computer and go to your prayer corner?
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« Reply #29 on: September 20, 2013, 08:28:25 PM »

Does anyone have any information?

Today is the feast of St. Macarius of Optina.  Last night I chanced upon a lovely apophthegm of his:  ""The Lord does not demand a prayer rule; especially from the sick and the weak--but humility is always necessary.  It fulfills what is lacking in the prayer rule.  What is humility?  To consider yourself worse than everyone else, to judge no one, to not complain etc."

Then today I stumbled blithely upon St. Macarius of Egypt:  "Abba Macarius was asked, ‘How should one pray?’ The old man said, ‘There is no need at all to make long discourses; it is enough to stretch out one’s hands and say, “Lord, as you will, and as you know, have mercy.” And if the conflict grows fiercer say, “Lord, help!” He knows very well what we need and he shows us his mercy.’"



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« Reply #30 on: September 20, 2013, 10:33:56 PM »

lol nub

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« Reply #31 on: September 21, 2013, 12:52:55 PM »

So, are you still substituting the Hours with the Jesus Prayer?

I don't think I ever did, not as a regular or recurring practice. 

Did you ever talk to a priest about it?

The one time I ever did, I was not allowed to substitute the prayer rope for the Hours.  I was told to do both.  My plan to pray less backfired.  Tongue
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« Reply #32 on: September 21, 2013, 04:35:14 PM »

Do Non-Chalcedonians have the Jesus Prayer in the same way we'd think of it in a Byzantine setting?
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« Reply #33 on: September 21, 2013, 07:43:22 PM »

Do Non-Chalcedonians have the Jesus Prayer in the same way we'd think of it in a Byzantine setting?

Depends on what you have in mind when you say "Byzantine setting", and keep in mind that there are several OO traditions.  We have the Jesus Prayer (as well as some of the other "Arrow" prayers).  It is taught to people mostly (but not exclusively) in the context of confession or spiritual direction, can be said according to a particular rule but also "freely", and depending on the tradition there may be the use of a prayer rope or other counting device.  Most of the basic teachings on its meaning, how to practice it, etc. are the same as in the Byzantine tradition. 

But I've never heard of any of the breathing exercises, physical postures, or any similar practices in our tradition, and most will not have heard it unless they have access to EO texts in modern languages.  Recently, for example, all five volumes of the Philokalia were published in Malayalam (the translator used the Russian/Slavonic text), so people in the Indian Church may begin to hear about those things more, but they were basically unheard of before.  We don't have schemes for how to replace the Hours with the Prayer as exist among the EO (and depending on how strict the tradition is, this kind of substitution would not even be considered possible), although at least some sources will specify that it is the only non-liturgical prayer you may say while at Liturgy or other services. 

Did you have something more specific in mind?       
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