Saturday, March 18, 2023

15 Points of Noetic Prayer

A New Documentary about Elder Joseph the Hesychast


I've been reading My Father Joseph the Hesychast, an autobiography about an Orthodox ascetic who lived in huts and caves on the holy islands in Greece. He prayed without ceasing something called the "noetic prayer".  Here's 15 points on noetic prayer from the archbishopric of Cyprus:


1. Prayer is one of the foremost and strongest powers that causes him who prays to be born again, and it grants him bodily and spiritually well-being.

 2. Prayer is the eyes and wings of the soul; it gives us the boldness and strength to behold God.

3. My brother, keep praying with your mouth until divine grace enlightens you to pray also with your heart. Then a celebration and festival will take place within you in a wondrous way, and you will no longer pray with your mouth, but with the attention which works in the heart.

4. If you truly desire to expel every anti-Christian thought and to purify your nous, you will achieve this only through prayer, for nothing is able to regulate our thoughts as well as prayer. 

5. Be careful, because if you are lazy and inattentive in prayer, you shall not make any progress either in your pursuit of devotion towards the Lord, or in the acquisition of salvation and peace of thought.

6. The name of Jesus Christ, which we invoke in prayer, contains within it self-existing and self-acting restorative power. So do not worry about the imperfection and dryness of your prayer, but with perseverance await the fruit of the repeated invocation of the Divine Name.

7. When guided by prayer, the moral powers within us become stronger than all our temptations and conquer them.

8. Frequency in prayer creates a habit of prayer, which quickly becomes second nature and which frequently brings the nous and the heart to a higher spiritual state. It is the only way to reach the height of true and pure prayer. It constitutes the best means of effective preparation for prayer and the surest road for one to reach the destination of prayer and salvation.

9. Each one of us is able to acquire interior prayer—that is, to make it a means of communication with the Lord. It does not cost anything except the effort to plunge into silence and into the depths of our heart, and the care to call upon the name of our sweetest Jesus Christ as often as possible, which fills one with elation. Plunging into ourselves and examining the world of our soul give us the opportunity to know what a mystery man is, to feel the delight of self-knowledge and to shed bitter tears of repentance for our falls and the weakness of our will. 

10. May your entire soul cleave with love to the meaning of the prayer, so that your nous, your inner voice, and your will—these three components of your soul—become one, and the one become three; for in this way man, who is an image of the Holy Trinity, comes into contact with and is united to the prototype. As the great worker and teacher of noetic prayer, the divine Gregory Palamas of Thessalonica said, “When the oneness of the nous becomes threefold, yet remains single, then it is united with the divine Triadic Unity, and it closes the door to every form of delusion and is raised above the flesh, the world, and the prince of the world” (The Philokalia, vol. IV. p. 343 ).

11. Wherever the prayer is active, there is Christ with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity, one in essence and indivisible. Wherever there is Christ, the Light of the world, there is the eternal light of the other world; there is peace and joy; there are the angels and the saints; there is the splendor of the Kingdom. Blessed are those who in this present life have clothed themselves with the Light of the world—Christ—for they have already put on the garment of incorruption.

12. Since Christ is the light of the world, those who do not see Him, who do not believe in Him, are all most certainly blind. Conversely, all who strive to practice the commandments of Christ walk in the light; they confess Christ and venerate and worship Him as God. Whoever confesses Christ and regards Him as his Lord and God is strengthened by the power of the invocation of His name to do His will. But if he is not strengthened, it is evident that he confesses Christ only with his mouth, while in his heart he is far from Him.

13. Just as it is impossible for someone who walks at night not to stumble, likewise it is impossible for someone who has not yet seen the divine light not to sin.

14. The goal of noetic prayer is to unite God with man, to bring Christ into man’s heart, banishing the devil from there and destroying all the work that he has accomplished there through sin. For, as the beloved disciple says, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn. 3:8 ). Only the devil knows the inexpressible power of these seven words of the Jesus prayer, and this is why he wars and fights against the prayer with furious rage. Countless times the demons have confessed through the mouths of possessed people that they are burned by the action of the prayer.

15. The more the prayer unites us with Christ, the more it separates us from the devil—and not only from the devil, but also from the spirit of the world, which engenders and sustains the passions.

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