“By the grace of God I am a Christian, by my deeds a great sinner, and by my calling a homeless wanderer of humblest origin, roaming from place to place.” – opening words in Chapter 1 of The Way of a Pilgrim
And so the elder found the instruction of the Venerable Nicephorus the Solitary and began: “‘If, in spite of all effort, you cannot enter the interior of the heart in the way which was explained to you, then do what I will tell you and with God’s help you will reach your goal. Man’s vocal cords enable him to speak, to vocalize words. Use this ability then and, while fighting distractions, diligently and continuously say, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!” If you will persevere for some time then, without any doubt, the path to the heart will be opened to you. This has been verified through experience.'” (Pilgrim, 11)
Therefore, you ought to receive this exhortation with faith and say the Jesus Prayer vocally as often as possible. Here is a rosary on which you can count and in the beginning say the Prayer at least three thousand times a day; do not add to or take away from this number by yourself. Through this exercise God will help you to achieve the ceaseless activity of the heart.” (Pilgrim, 11)
In the above quotes, we learn that to combat distractions we must organize our ceaseless prayer and pray out loud as much as possible. We organize our prayer when we commit to “say the Prayer at least three thousand times a day” and not changing this without permission of a director.
May this series on ceaseless prayer help all who read it to grow in peace and prayer.
Resource: The Way of a Pilgrim. Helen Bacovcin trans. (Image Books: New York), 2003.