Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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What do you think of hesychasm? Is the constant repetition of the Jesus prayer until your heart actually says the words necessary? Do you think that this prayer is required this intensely to practice? I understand that 1 in 10,000 actually gets the Jesus prayer to be said by the heart, but would it be a good practice to do on the side not to the extreme? Do you think deep fervent prayer with the Agpeya prayers is enough? What is "Centering Prayer" and how can we grasp the highest level of contemplative prayer?

Prayer is a necessary feature in life. Throughout history, man created religions, from the most obscure to the outright ridiculous, in search of a god as the receiving object of prayer. Even the atheist who rejects any form of worship and acknowledgment of God, glorifies him/herself, nature, or science, etc., to satisfy the need for prayer by substituting words associated with prayer with intellectual rhetoric. The fact that people remain committed to their religious beliefs throughout time proves the internal need and desire to appeal to God so to satisfy a spiritual void in their souls without Him. It is interesting that since animals do not have the need for salvation and were created to sustain man, they do not seek to fulfill any spiritual desires or instincts since they lack a soul. Yet, they share in some other physiological needs as humans.

The foundation of the Judeo-Christian faith reveals a God who passionately adores His children and greatly desires to live amongst His most beloved creation. He taught us how to pray and how to worship befittingly. Christianity is the full revelation of God, who in His humble nature gladly submitted His life in the flesh, which He took from us as His own, and paid the ransom for our salvation with His blood. No other faith shares this intense relationship of a Father and child and the unity between God and humanity.

Hesychasm may be experienced by ascetic individuals, usually highly spiritual monks and nuns. Little is known about such matters as these spiritual individuals will not reveal this information voluntarily to anyone except their confession fathers, and their confession fathers will rarely expose this information until their timely repose. Therefore, from where these statistics are gathered, "1 in 10,000 will actually get the Jesus prayer to be said by the heart," is unknown to me.

The use of the Agpeya is very important as it teaches discipline in prayer for which one greatly benefits by learning to remain focused in prayer. Is it enough? It depends on each individual and the canon rule set by his/her confession father. "Centering Prayer" is a term more commonly used in Catholicism. All prayer ought to have a component of "Contemplative Prayer".

You must first ask yourself, what is the purpose and goal of your personal prayers. The answer should be to know God more, and in this most profound knowledge, not just in theological mastery or scholarly apologetics, but in a most deep and personal loving relationship. In this growing relationship of love and worship, one may subconsciously experience humility, the true crux of deep spirituality and real fervent prayer of the heart, and thus, unconditionally and devotedly submits and commits his/her heart to God in prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

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