Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Every day with Jesus - Saying the Jesus Prayer 8

Said the Prayer 100 times this morning. As I met distractions and let them go I was struck by the second half of the Prayer “have mercy on me a sinner” and made the connection with the distractions that come and which I have to deal with. These not only represent the busyness of our minds but the restlessness of our hearts which struggle to be still. This of course can just speak of the fast paced life we live where there is so much to do and think about. It could be just simply the neurological functioning of the brain as it processes thought. But if we are made in the image and likeness of God and there is some aspect of us that is like Him and relates to Him then it should be possible to achieve a stillness that enables us to know God (Psalm 46:10). The fact that it is so hard to do that means that we have somehow lost control of that or, even worse, we are slaves to something that prevents us achieving that. The Bible has a name for that 'something' and it is sin which, in its most common understanding is “falling short” of what we are meant to be. In the Letter to the Romans Paul says its falling "short of the Glory of God.“ (Romans 3:23).

What is the glory of God? St. Irenaeus wrote this very remarkable phrase, which is often quoted: “Life in man is the glory of God; the life of man is the vision of God.” Another translation says: “The glory of God is a living man; and the life of man consists in beholding God” (Against Heresies, Book 4, 20:7) Or yet another says "The glory of God is man fully alive.” Either way falling short for Irenaeus is failing to behold God and thus become fully alive or whole. The fact that we struggle to relate or worship God is a sign of this falling short. Prayer then helps us to move towards wholeness and the Jesus Prayer first shows us experientially where we are in relation to God i.e. our struggles bring home to us where we are and where we need to be. Second it provides us part of the means of getting there or at least being in the right place to get there. And third articulates for us the cry for mercy which is the seedbed in which grace grows.

All this, of course, didn't fully come home to me until after I reflected on the Prayer. But the connection between the distractions and the need for mercy gave my praying a fresh impetus. I suppose I could have emphasized the second part of the Prayer after that as it would have made a kind of logical flow from my realization. However the opposite was true and I leant back onto Jesus as I looked for His mercy and grace.

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