We have received a comment on our post ‘A Charismatic Question by Email’. We think that it is worth discussing this comment by ‘Commodus Firmus’ in a blog post. We have edited the comment for clarity.
Hi, the use of the name of Jesus is never in vain and what seems out of place and incompatible today might be a perfect fit tomorrow. If anyone wants to use the Jesus Prayer only good will come of it.
I grew up in Greece. On the one hand, I was steeped in Orthodoxy and the Jesus prayer from a very early age (I discovered the prayer when I was 8-10 and then when I was around 13 I tried it for the first time).
On the other hand, however, the institutionalized Orthodox Church of Greece (as a social structure) was so irrelevant and so unsuccessful in communicating its message that it was (and for many is) just repulsive. For years I was just one more ‘nominal Christian’. The Jesus prayer was the only indication that underneath the rather repulsive visible institutionalized ‘state religion’ there might be hiding a ‘pearl of great price’.
Then I met Protestants—some (nominally) still Greek ‘Orthodox’ but with evangelical tendencies—and also Pentecostals. In sharp contrast to the state church, these people looked as if they practiced what they preached and they taught me to read the Bible too. I was still trying the Jesus prayer every now and then, never ‘breaking’ its secret yet on every occasion I was left with the impression that there is a secret in this short repeated prayer. So I always returned to it. First every 2-3 years, then every 1-2 years, then even more often, until 30+ years after I discovered the Jesus Prayer it became a regular part of my life and returned my heart to the Orthodox Church. I still feel ashamed of the quality of leadership of the Orthodox Church—but then, am I any better? Yet every time some (over?)zealous Orthodox—seemingly out of petty antagonism—speaks ill of other denominations it pains my heart because I learned good things from them. Wasn’t it the Lord who said, ‘from their fruit you will know them’? Well, they are not perfect. It pains my heart too to see some of the doctrinal errors of the non-Orthodox, yet I see the good fruit as well and close my mouth.
The bottom line of all this: If some people want to practice the Jesus prayer, let them practice it—even help them to practice it—be they atheists, Buddhists or Protestants or whatever. The Name of Jesus has a power of its own to work unexpected wonders in the hearts of those praying, no matter who or what they are. Thank God no one has copyrighted the Jesus Prayer and no one has trademarked it! If fact I sometimes think that it works a ‘secret operation’ to bring people back to Orthodoxy. I don’t fear that the Jesus Prayer is something people can exploit commercially but see it more as a cornerstone that can be the foundation for the return [to Orthodoxy? to Jesus?] of those who will put their trust on it or a stumbling block that will crush those who will try to exploit it.
This comment is interesting for its clear expression of a person who although nominally Orthodox is a Protestant in spirit.