What does the Jesus prayer mean?
The deepest form of holy worship, especially in prayer, is getting closer to having constant dialogue with God. For this reason, the Holy Bible and Tradition present to us many forms of prayer in an effort to find the most suitable one for the worshiper to have that unceasing connection. The believer thus begins every work with prayer, even before sleep; and the participate in liturgies, and the psalms are prayed as though its their personal prayer.
To protect the mind from distraction, the believer offers prayers that do no exceed a few words or lines, always reminding them of the presence of God in their lives and allows them to be in a state of continuous contact with him, permitting them to repeat the prayer in any time even during any type of work. If the believer trusts in the power of the name of Jesus, they will repeat it countlessly, and thus it has been coined the Jesus prayer.
The Jesus prayer- or other short prayers – are often repeated abundantly by the fathers of the desert representing a cry towards God. St. Augustine used to repeat the following one: “ Make haste, O God, to deliver me! Make haste to help me, O Lord!” (Psalm 70:1). He also invited the believers to repeat it on every occasion possible. At home or work, during meals, when waking up and going to sleep, in sadness and in joy, in spiritual zeal or lukewarmness in worship; because it would be a great help to them. St Augustine used to refer to this as the arrow prayer likening it to an arrow shooting and piercing the devil’s heart, wherein the latter cannot distract us during prayer.
St. John Climacus (of the ladder) urges us to practice this short prayer saying: “ makes your prayer as simple as possible, because the tax collector and the prodigal son reconciled with God with a single phrase.”