Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Finding God in the Fast Lane

From chapter 3 of Finding God in the Fast Lane – how to live in God’s presence in the midst of the maelstrom, by Joyce Huggett. Originally published 1993; this edition by Kevin Mayhew 2004.

[The Jesus Prayer] is particularly powerful because it can be prayed at any time, no matter what we are doing. A friend of mine, a widower, taught me this when I visited him on one occasion. When I asked him how he was, a cloud passed over his face as he admitted that he was in turmoil because he had an important choice to make by the next morning. But then his eyes twinkled as he showed me a bowl of gooseberries and a panful of peas: I’ve had a wonderful afternoon,’ he went on. ‘First I topped and tailed the gooseberries and then I shelled the peas and all the while I was praying the Jesus Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me and guide me.’

Kallistos Ware, in The Power of the Name, points out that the joy of the Jesus Prayer is that it may be said, once or many times, in the scattered moments that otherwise would be wasted – for example, when we are engaged in a semi-automatic task such as dressing, washing up, mending, gardening, walking, waiting in a queue or sitting in a traffic jam. We can pray this prayer, too, in a moment of quiet before a potentially painful or difficult meeting or interview, or when we find ourselves unable to sleep, or while we are waiting for full consciousness to dawn when we wake up. The prayer’s radical simplicity is especially meaningful and helpful when we are tense or anxious.

The Jesus Prayer also makes a marvellous springboard for the prayer of gratitude. I discovered this one day as I was preparing vegetables for supper. For two days life had left me tempest-tossed and battered, but as I lifted the situation to God, a shaft of light seemed to pierce the darkness. Suddenly I saw both the reason for the turmoil and a way out of it. Quite spontaneously, I found myself cutting courgettes and repeating: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, thank you for having mercy.’
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