The invocation of the name of Jesus can be put into many frames. It is for each person to find the form which is the most appropriate to his or her own prayer. But, whatever formula may be used, the heart and centre of the invocation must be the Holy Name itself, the word Jesus. There resides the whole strength of the invocation.
Lev Gillet, a Monk of the Eastern Church, On the Invocation of the Name of Jesus, (Templegate Publishers, 1985) 3-14.
Since starting to make and sell prayer ropes I have become more conscious of the Jesus prayer, both because I have been looking for resources on it to share with others, and because I have been praying it more myself as I make knots. (I will provide an update on that project soon, as I know that some readers are interested to hear a progress report). I had been conscious of Father Lev Gillet’s work on it, which I had browsed through some years ago and thought that that would be worth reading properly. And so when I saw this book for sale at a parish bookstall, thought that it would be good to get. Only after it had been removed from the glass case did I realise that it was in fact a different book. That is no great disaster – I will hopefully find a way to get hold of Fr Lev’s The Jesus Prayerat a later stage. And in the meantime, I have discovered that this is a shorter, more meditative little book that is easily accessible and looks worth a slow reading. I’ll try and present some thoughts from the different chapters…
This first chapter focuses on the different “shapes” that the prayer can take. While Father Lev leaves the reader free, he does stress that the simple recitation of the name of Jesus is the oldest form. It is the simplest and most easy to use and therefore the one that he recommends. The Holy Name is itself prayer. It can be said either verbally or mentally, and “affords an easy transition from verbal to mental prayer … and disposes the soul to contemplation.” (15)