About the STAGES OF THE JESUS PRAYER
Every one of you might have tried to pray and keep the commandments not only visually, but in your heart, and realized that your head is a mess. We cannot separate our thoughts from intentions, extract what God says from what comes from the devil, our passions. That is the reason why we cannot decide how to act, as before any action there goes a thought. It seems to us that we sincerely want to change, but we have no opportunity for that. We say to ourselves and to God, “O Lord, I want to resist this intention, but I do not know why it is not listening to me.” We resemble a blind in a forest who bumps into trees, goes the wrong way, changes direction, slides down the slope and hurts himself.
The Holy Fathers came through this path and told us based on their experience: child, do not get desperate, something can be done about it, if you act right. If muddling starts in your mind, then the act should be directed inside your mind. We should practice mental prayer that puts everything in place for us.
All starts with verbal prayer, and one has to get used to it. At the beginning, when the prayer is verbal, it helps, but not completely. You call Christ: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, but muddling in your heads does not stop. You should pronounce it a considerable number of times, but should not get desperate as nothing significant happens to your mind. Those who tried to do it, might agree with me.
It will start to help when the prayer becomes mental. Because if the problem is in the mind, then the prayer should reach the mind. At that point everything is going to change, and you will find it pleasant. Through the Jesus prayer Christ will come into our disturbed mind, and as the Light, He will separate thoughts from intentions. And you will understand when to resist your sin. Then our mind will have the power of accepting a thought or not. But this prayer is only a mental, not a tacit one. If any evil thought will make its way to the heart, it will respond with sympathy, as the mind has been partially enlightened by Christ, while the heart has not.
I ask you to forgive me for touching such high-flown issues, but we should have a sense of purpose and see the line of work. A heart becomes passionless when Christ has already come into it and there is no space left for sin. That is why, I remind you, for those who want to practice the Jesus prayer, all should start with a verbal prayer. You should pronounce a million times, ten million times: Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ and you will get used to it and it will become natural to you. After that it will gradually come to be mental. When it comes into your mind, enlightens and separates your thoughts, all will become obvious to you. At that moment, in some measure, you will be able to fight for the pureness of your mind. Do not get discouraged by the fact that you cannot change at once.