To speak about the prayer of Jesus, for me,
is very difficult. I will try to do it because of your kindness
to invite me here. But I must say that I am not the right
person for it, because of my sins. And because I don't have
this prayer in my heart. I have forgotten it. Even this -
to practice the prayer of the heart - was the deepest reason
for me to become a monk. But now… all is forgotten, my life
is not pure anymore…
But thank you again because you give me the opportunity to remember people that had this kind of prayer in their heart. They used to say, to recite the prayer of the heart in their hearts, in their minds without stop. One of them was my spiritual father. But I met also another two persons, fr. Efrem and fr. Paisios in Mount Athos. So some of what I am going to say is my memories from them, and I thank you again for giving me this opportunity, because I know, they are in heavens now, and they see us and they are very happy that we are together today, and they pray for us.
The prayer of the heart is the deepest prayer
of the Orthodox Church. From now on when I say Orthodox Church,
I mean the one Catholic and Apostolic Church, the first Church.
It starts as a repetition of the name of Jesus. The prayer
doesn't have one formal, standard type. It may be 'Lord Jesus
Christ have mercy on me' or 'Lord Jesus Christ, son of God,
have mercy on me, a sinner' or 'Lord Jesus Christ' or simply
'Jesus'. It is up to everybody's character to choose what
he or she likes more. The result is the same, the prayer is
Most of people prefer the 'Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me'. The form is not so important, the meaning is very important.
According to the experience of the Church, when you practice this prayer you express all the theology of the Church. I will try to explain that this prayer is in the Old and mainly in the New Testament and was practiced always. But first allow me to say that it is better if we have a teacher, a spiritual guide, a spiritual friend who knows about this prayer, so as to avoid misunderstandings and to be more fruitful. But even we do not have such a person we may try to find the writings and the books of holy people who wrote about this. Unfortunately in Chinese we have very few things, you can find it in the website http://www.orthodox.com.tw/ and I really beg you to help the translation of more texts. In the internet you can find many texts in English from the fathers of the Church. During 17th century, in Greece, in Mount Athos, the place I come from, a very holy monk published a collection of texts about Jesus' prayer, texts that many holy fathers during many centuries wrote. This book is very important, because for an ordinary man is not so easy to read so many texts in order to find about this prayer. The book name is 'philocalia' which means in greek, 'philo' = love 'kalia' = beauty, so philocalia means love for beauty, because the ultimate beauty is the inner one, the beauty of soul, and this prayer, helps the soul to acquire this holy beauty. (If you wish, you can order this book from Faber & Faber publications, 4 volumes in English). If somebody decides to translate it into Chinese, he will make history… May God bless him (or her).
So as to start, the fathers of the Church
advice, if you do not have anybody to guide you, to start
repeating the words 'Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me' very
simply in your mind. In the center of your mind, behind your
forehead. You can repeat this even whispering. But this may
create problems, some people may think that we talk to ourselves
like crazy. It is also possible to cause a throat problem
using our mouth so much. This is why it is better — but not
a 'must'- not to whisper the prayer, but to repeat it mentally.
Most important is to keep in peace, and some rhythm. The rhythm helps to the easy reciting the words of the prayer. We can keep the rhythm by many methods. For example a wall clock (synchronization with the 'tic' tac, the sounds of the clock) or our heart pulses or even a prayer rope.
The orthodox prayer rope is very popular from many centuries. It is similar to the Buddhist but has different way of construction. It is made of wool, every node is constructed of 7 crosses, so the symbol of Jesus the cross is everywhere, and the prayer rope usually has 33 nodes, the years Jesus lived in earth.
St. Pachomius once had a vision of an Angel, who recommended the use of the Jesus Prayer on a knotted cord of one hundred knots. One hundred Jesus Prayers were called a "Prayer" by the Angel. He recommended the recitation of 12 Prayers (1200 Jesus Prayers) during the day and 12 Prayers at night along with a further 12 during an all-night vigil. He recommended 300 prayers to be recited at 3:00 pm every day, that time being when our Saviour Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sins.
"A prayer rope is often employed in
conjunction with the (Jesus) Prayer, not primarily in order
to count the number of times it is repeated, but rather as
an aid to concentration and the establishment of a regular
rhythm. It is a widespread fact of experience that if we make
some use of our hands as we pray, this will help to still
and to gather us together into the act of prayer."
Bishop Kallistos Ware, The Power of the Name
For more on how to make a Christian prayer rope, please visit http://www.wattfamily.org/prayerope.html
For me it is amazing that the way of making
is almost the same with the Chinese knots. I think humbly
this is a special blessing, and I understand that the Chinese
people have many things of Christianity hidden in a mysterious
We say prayer of the heart, and still ...we say to you, to pray inside our mind. Later we will say more about the meaning of heart. But now (so that our understanding will be more clear), we 'll just say that the perfect prayer is in the heart, when the mind and the heart are united, when the mind will say the prayer not inside the brain but inside the heart.
When we say 'heart' we mean the inner human being, the center of our existence. It is different from the brain. Unfortunately, western people think that we, humans, are only our logic thoughts, and that our most characteristic part is the brain where the neural networks create thoughts etc.
But in everyday language we don't use the word brain, where our logic is considered to be inside, but the word heart. 'A broken heart' is a common expression.
In Bible the heart is the center of the human personality. (Not the brain, not the logic).
WHEN GOD WANTS, it happens the mind to descend into the heart and pray from inside the heart. This is not our achievement but it is a gift from God.
So, let's return to our practice. The rhythm
is a method to focus on Jesus name ONLY. It is very important
to avoid any imagination, any icon or picture of Jesus Christ.
It is good sometimes to bring in our minds those mental pictures
BUT NEVER when we practice this prayer. Also we should avoid
any theological thought — even very good — during this prayer.
Because starting to think or meditate on very good theological
concepts distracts us from the prayer.
Here I must point out that using imagination may be create good thought but it is not the prayer of the heart, as it is experienced 2000 years in the Church.
Some people mix the self hypnosis with the prayer of Jesus. I had the opportunity to meet some people who are very attracted to mysticism, and they did not realize that they used self hypnosis to have some experience of Jesus. Later we will say more about this.
As I said, we start very simple, just repeating in our minds the words of the prayer Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me. Some fathers of the Church advice us to use some techniques.
These techniques are not important. It is
better to be avoided. Sometimes they are dangerous for the
health. Moreover, they may misguide us. My spiritual father
told me that sometimes people bowing their heads to the heart
may see a light in their mind and they think this is a fruit
of the prayer; they experience the presence of God, as many
saints did. But they are wrong! Because bowing their heads
they prevent the blood to go to their brains, because they
press their neck's arteries, and they experience lack of oxygen!!!!!
Moreover they become victims of proud admitting that they are in high spiritual state.
We must examine our attitude. Why we want
to practice the prayer of the heart? If our purpose is to
be some kind of Christian yoga, we are wrong. If we want to
explore mysticism or strange experiences we are wrong.
The prayer of the heart is nothing more than prayer. The deepest prayer to God. Our love for Jesus is so strong that we want each and every moment of our life to be in Jesus presence, in Jesus memory. We want everything to be done in Jesus' name; every breath we take -in Jesus name, every thought we have -in Jesus name, every word we say -in Jesus name.
Even when we sleep we want to say '(KJV* Sol 5:2) I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying,…'
And Apostle Paul says '(KJV 1Th 5:17) Pray without ceasing.'
There is a book, "The way of a pilgrim", which can be downloaded for free in Chinese from our website. This book tells the story of a common man from Russia, who one day paid attention to what Paul says, and starts to wonder: what does it mean pray without ceasing? How about while I eat? Or I talk? Or even when I sleep? Is it possible? Or is it just symbolic?
(Allow me here to note in general that it
is not so easy to interpret the Bible. Many 'scholars' would
say that the apostle means something else, etc. etc. But Bible
is not a simple book. It does not create our spirituality.
It EXPRESSES our spirituality. The first Christians understood
very well what the 'prayer without ceasing' was because they
had this prayer.
Also some other brothers will say, show me where this is written in the Bible… But what are the 'KJV Rom 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.' How to write about this? )
The prayer of the heart is not the only prayer.
There are many other prayers that the Church uses. But it
is the deepest.
The prayer of the heart CAN NOT substitute the sacraments. There are not two kinds of believers, those who are more 'mystical', theoretical, more spiritual, and the others who just pray the ordinary prayers. Even the common prayers if used with pure heart and humbly grant us the prayer of the heart, even we do not know, or expect it as we will see.
We should use the prayer of the heart humbly, like holding a very holy thing, and it is, because we pronounce the holy name of God.
If we love Jesus then Jesus' prayer attracts us, like a magnet.
We must insist in keeping the same type of prayer, not to
change and some times say: "Lord Jesus Christ" and other times
saying a longer sentence. Keep one and try. Changing the words
of the prayer practically does not help to recite and to pray
And practice, practice, practice.
With peace, and wisdom.
In the book 'the way of a pilgrim' the pilgrim is advised to repeat the prayer thousands of times. He used the prayer rope to count.
But many fathers don't advice us to count, because when we start getting tired, we will count more quickly, so as to finish…
It is better if we use a clock. We can say I will pray 10 minutes, or one hour, and when I will hear the clock ringing I will stop. This is better.
Trying we may realize that day by day the heart is used to repeat the words 'Lord Jesus….' Sometimes it starts even without our effort. But this is not the common rule.
We just try.
We focus on the words of the prayer. At
the beginning this is very difficult. We may discover how
strongly our mind abides to unimportant things, like television,
news, etc… We discover that our mind is without stillness.
It is like a boat without captain, it goes here and there,
where incidents of life or other people lead us (TV, media
etc.) It is a pity that eastern people practice meditation,
the stillness of mind and we, the western Christians, do not
even know about this. But the Orthodox Church always practices
the prayer of the heart. The prayer of the heart is not the
same with the eastern meditation. There are some similarities,
but only external, they are different things.
I do not use the word meditation for the prayer of the heart. It is not a meditation on Jesus name, no. It is a prayer. Like any other prayer.
The typical, common meditation, teaches
us to try to disassociate from the world of multiplicity,
the world of thoughts, to escape from this world of division,
which is the cause of pain. All what we see is illusions,
ignorance, not real; everything is emptiness (according to
eastern thought). Disassociating from this world leads us
to the truth, the absolute. And this is the salvation. There
is no prayer here. Even if we invocate Buddha name, as many
of our friends, relatives, neighbors, it is not the Buddha
himself but you to become Buddha, they are not 'believers'
they are 'practitioners'.
The most characteristic thing of the eastern religions is that they see God as a part of the world, so, practicing you can escape from the world of pain and be united with the absolute, (Buddha hood).
Christianity is not the same. God is not a part of the world. There is distinction between God and the world. Because of the original sin there was a deep division. But the division is now over. God became man, he entered into the world, and he took in him this world. So ever since Jesus' ascension, the world is united with God under the person (hypostasis) of the Son of God,
...without confusion, without change, without division and without separation.
(the exact terms of the 4th Ecumenical council)
Allow me to explain a few things about the
concept of 'person', because this will help us to understand
the prayer of the heart.
Eastern people think that 'person' means an individual personality, as the western philosophy and culture present it. So they think that personal identity means division, and it is an illusion, a false belief, a misconception. They say that there is no personal identity (but they actually mean the western individual identity). I am a set, a collection of my many things, for example a collection of my memories, of thoughts, of blood, of cells, etc. I am impermanent, finally …empty.
But the idea of person of the Orthodox Church is completely different. According to our theology, the person is completely different from the individual. The individual says it is 'me', 'I' am, because, I am not 'you', I am different from you.
Jesus explained to us what 'person' means. God is 'personal' this means 'in relation'; it does not mean separation but a way of existing. If God is not personal, if God can not say 'I' then the existence is given to him, he can not escape from existing. We come to this life. Our life is given to us from our parents. We are not asked if we want to exist or not. But God, as person 'chooses' to exist, the person, the so-called 'hypostasis' is the reason of the existence. More, he chooses how to exist: being as communion. God chooses to exist as communion with another two persons, the Son and the Spirit.
Sometimes we do not realize how important the theology is. God is called the Father also, is never alone. There isn't one person, and then becomes 2 and then 3. Never. Father is called Father because he has the Son. And he proceeds the Holy Spirit. Without Son there is no Father, nor Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit there is no Father, nor Son.
God exists as a communion of three persons. Nobody can understand completely how God exists, but allow me to present some simple examples. You see me today for the first time. But this has nothing to do with me. I exist even if you like me or not. If you do not like me, -I will feel sorry— but I won't die. My presence here has nothing to do with my existence. But for God, the 3 persons 'make' God to 'exist'. If I am allowed to say (even it is not accurate) the co-existence of the tree persons make God to exist!!! First the co-existence, after the existence. When I say 'first' or 'after' I do not mean in time, I only try to express a different way of existing. The father is not like us. Many of you aren't fathers yet, because you don't have children for the time being. But later you will be. It is not the same for the God Father.
When we say Father we do not mean that God is male or female. But this is the way that exists. The special relation with the God Son, is giving birth (nothing to do with our concepts of human pregnancy) and proceeding the Holy Spirit. (Proceed does not mean that the Holy Spirit goes somewhere, there is not 'place' in God, it is another way of existing, a unique relation with the Father.
This is why God 'is' love. It is not the same to say God 'is' love and God 'has' love. All of us 'have' love but we are not love.
But the Son of God, incarnating, becoming man, make possible for us to 'become' love. Giving us a new way of existing. To choose to live 'in' him. By baptism we are 'inscribed' in Him, we are like an 'injection' to His body.
You may ask. How come many people become 'one' body? Is it only some good symbol, some theory?
No, it isn't a symbol, it isn't a theory, it is wrong that some people call the Church 'the mystical' body of Jesus. Church is 'the' body of Jesus. The Holy Spirit makes this possible, makes the Church one 'corporate' body, the 'many' to be 'one', Jesus body.
Our existence is a communion, a relation, a union. See what I mean:
(KJV Gal 2:20) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
You see, here, Paul does not try to find what Paul is, and what not Paul is. He always defines himself 'in relation' with Jesus. This is not emotional, but existential. See more clearly the meaning.
(KJV Rom 12:5) So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
You see the idea of Christianity.
I remember from Mahabharata, when the prince Arjuna, hesitates, he does not want to kill people, most of them his relatives, in the battle. Then his mentor, the God Krishna advice him to go on, because all are an illusion, they are already dead, they do not exist, the battle is already over before it starts, because there is no time, or space.
Eastern people try to 'escape' from this world because everything is pain, life is pain, death is pain. So I must disassociate myself from everything, from the impermanent.
But in Christianity, we associate with everything!!!! I am member of others!!!!!
We do not say, forget about Jesus, cross, the others. All are impermanent; those are not 'you'.
A new way of existing!!! Philosophy does not understand this. Even Derek Parfit in his book 'persons and reasons' use this disassociation, says we are events, collections of memories etc…
We are 'becoming'. We are on a process. What we are is a mystery. See the Bible.
KJV Rev 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
This name is what we are. But the completeness will be in the future, in the kingdom of God.
My memories are coming back now, when I asked
my spiritual father:
- Is it better to say, Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on 'us'? I do not like this 'me'.
He smiled and he said:
- You can say 'us' if you like, but I do not advice you to do so. It is better to say 'me'. But I can't explain this now. (He knew how spiritually immature I was). But when I was in Mt. Athos there were two other brothers, and we received a letter to pray for somebody, then they suggested that we should pray 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on mr. X'. But I remembered what the spiritual father said and I refused. Finally, we asked him, next time we went to meet him. He said.
- Well if you really understand, you may continue saying 'have mercy on "me" ' because the 'other' is 'me'!!! Inside the Church we are one! The other is me!!!!
I was shocked!!! For me it was a great discovery.
We do not live in a world of division and separation, but of unity!!! This is the Church. This is also the great help of the prayer of Jesus.
I remember many times my spiritual father 'feeling' in his body the pain of people for who he prayed. And sometimes he undertook, he used to take in him the pain of others. Jesus was giving him power to stand this, moreover, Jesus, who was living in my spiritual father's heart, was taking the pain, but allowed him to feel a little bit, so to have the happiness of participating to the pain of the others.
Not only for people but he applied the divine name even to the animals. Once he told me that how to make friends with an eagle. He told me we should put some meat and stand, not very close. The eagle will see. Then we will pray with Jesus prayer. The name of Jesus will be recognized by the eagle, and little by little we will be friends. (I never did this. But I know the animals recognize the holy people, they can feel the glory of God, if somebody has it, as they did in paradise when Adam named them).
Jesus prayer is not a kind of mandra (some
phrase which we repeat for meditation in eastern religions);
it expresses the theology of the Church. When we call Jesus,
we know who He is. The son of the Father, and also the perfect
man. And we call him Lord, recognizing that he is our God,
we know how we are united with him, by the energy of sacraments,
by the Holy Spirit. And also we admit that we are sinners,
but we hope for salvation, which is union with Him.
Begging 'have mercy on me a sinner', we recognize that we are sinners, which means 'sick'; we are sick, the Church is The hospital, and Jesus is our Healer. So many beautiful prayers call Jesus 'the healer of our souls and bodies.' I think other Christians, especially Protestants, pay little attention to Jesus as healer.
We dare to beg for Jesus mercy, because we know that he loves us. Not because we deserve, not because we are good, but because 'He' is love.
God is never angry with us if we sin. He is not like us, we love the good and hate the bad. This is the ancient Greek philosophical idea, that the 'idea' of good attracts us. God loves a good and a bad man the same. Reconciliation is always one way (not 2 ways, not like us, if 2 people quarrel, they need somebody to reconcile them), we have to become friends of God, God never changes, he always loves us.
Jesus prayer is never a romantic individual action. Some people may think, it is better to stay somewhere in peace, alone, away from the temptations of the people (like in the Church, crowded, gossiping etc. etc. but this is wrong. We never pray alone. We pray always as members of the Church, there is no individual salvation. When I pray, I participate to the prayer of the Church, to the eternal 'conversation' of Jesus, as he is the head of the Church, the 'mouth' of the Church, with the Father.
When I went for first time to Mt. Athos,
I saw the monks during the Church services. They were sitting,
the head slightly bowed, I had they impression that they take
a ...nap, besides the services last many hours. I took many
naps, I must say. But later I understood. They pray using
Jesus prayer, and at the same time they pay attention to the
reader. It is so strange. To do one thing, that is to pay
attention to the readings, the songs etc. is very difficult.
But to do two (2) things, to pray using Jesus prayer, and
pay attention to the service is easier!!! The mind becomes
very sharp, understands, and recognizes the mistakes of the
different readers, focuses deeply. So amazing!!!!
Not only this. I met people who could talk to you and the same time pray in their minds!!! My spiritual father was like this. And his words were so sweet, so good. This is because God created us with the ability to be 'connected' with him. To pray to God is the highest mind activity!!!! But, we lost it!!! We do not even suspect that it exists!!! This is why we think it is difficult to do two things at the same time: to pray to God and think of something else.
The everyday technology reminds us this reality.
The computer is a multitasking machine, runs many programs
at the same time. Our mobile tel. also, always sends a message
to the antennas, informing in which area, every moment, the
But I have to repeat: this condition is a gift of God. We can't force God to give it to us. We should never ask from God the grace to do miracles and have the grace of the prayer. This shows that we are proud and very immature. We only have to try, to practice, to practice praying. The results are a gift of God. And the greatest is to be alive members of the Church.
Even we are novice, beginners in the prayer
of heart, we may realize that something is happening inside
us: it is more difficult for us to commit sins!!! We realize
that sin is not good, we feel like 'burning' if we sin. There
is Somebody, inside us…. And we feel happier. Thought of despair,
of low self esteem, of different fears, fade away, gradually
I know somebody who wanted to commit suicide, and some priest advised him to say the prayer of Jesus. He didn't like the idea, he considered this prayer something exclusive for monks, destructive for the personality, and laughed at the priest. But he started to say the prayer of the heart, just to destroy himself before the death. And after one week he found out that he couldn't feel sorry. Peace was in his heart. He didn't want to die anymore. Very surprised he tried to cause the thoughts of pain again, but... no way. Peace was inside him. Very surprised he went to find that priest. He told him: what is happening with me? Why can't I feel sorrow? What is this peace?
The priest told him, that this is the result of the prayer of Jesus. He encouraged him to continue. He gave him a book, 'the way of a pilgrim'. This person later found many books and now he is a monk.
I remember what another Saint, fr. Efrem
told me in mt. Athos; once upon a time a group of people came
to meet him. Among them there was a high-ranked judge. He
knew almost nothing about Christianity, but fr. Efrem — he
had the grace of God, he could see who you are, all your life
- saw that he had a very good, pure heart. He asked him if
he prays. The judge said, sorry father, I am very busy, I
don't have time. Fr. Efrem asked him how he spent his time
every morning from the moment he woke up.
- Well he said, I wake up, I go to the toilet, I shave, I take a shower, I have some coffee (Greeks do not like breakfast) and I go to the court.
- During your shower and shaving, can you say a few times: Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me? Fr. Efrem asked him. Is it difficult?
- No, he replied, it seems easy, I will try.
- And how about before you start your job in the court, saying: 'Lord help me to judge right and not judge wrong today'?
- Yes, I promise.
But after six months this person came again to see the father. Now he was different. He told him what was happening; after a few months the prayer was coming automatically to him. Peace was in his heart. And he wanted to know more about Jesus. Tears sometimes were coming to his eyes.
It was the energy of the prayer to a very good heart!!!! But it was also the —invisible- help of the spiritual father, of fr. Efrem, who was secretly praying for him, who was giving grace to him. Don't be surprised if I say that a saint can give grace to others. Remember in the Bible, the apostles were doing the same; Paul says 'I gave birth to you spiritually…'
I will tell you here some other story. They
asked a person who had the prayer in a very deep way: "who
taught you?" And he answered: the demons!!!
- How come, they said, this is impossible.
- It is possible, he said. Because part of my job was to go to a certain place out of the town, I had to pass through a cemetery, where there were rumors that demons appear during the night. I was very afraid. But I had to pass. I was saying the prayer of the heart very deeply, so strongly that the prayer abide, stuck in my heart and it started repeating itself automatically!
St. Nikodimus says that even animals use
the prayer of Jesus. Once upon a time, one father had a parrot,
and that parrot memorized the words 'Lord Jesus Christ have
mercy on me' because his master used to say it. One day he
escaped from his cage. As the parrot was flying, without experience,
he did not know how to be careful, a hawk saw him, and attack
him. The parrot couldn't do anything; he screamed using the
words 'Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me!!!!' This was the
only way to express himself, to scream. And then, some invisible
force pushed the hawk, the hawk very afraid left the parrot,
This is the power of the divine name. (You have this little book, written by bishop Kallistos Ware)
My spiritual father told me that
some times in some places on Mount Athos, he listened to a
mysterious voice repeating the prayer of the heart. Nobody
was there!!!! Some Chinese will say: ghost!!! But we remember
that when Jesus was entering Jerusalem and the Pharisees asked
Him, why people cheer and hail him with 'hosanna', He replied
that "if people silence, the stones will hail". Maybe my spiritual
father could hear the voice of the things.
And do not forget KJV Rom 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
If we start practicing the prayer of the heart, many blessings will come. I point out some.
If somebody has the Jesus prayer, he
discovers the hypostatic principle (meaning to discover he
is a person, not an individual, his existence depends on others),
results in his love for the whole world developing continually.
And this is expressed by prayer and sacrifice for the whole
world. His heart is aflame with love. Then the man oversteps
the limited boundaries of his ego and from love and with love
he enters into the hypostasis of the other. He lives the kenosis
(=ultimate humility) of Christ to a degree, and Christ's agony
in Gethsemane. He weeps for the whole world.
In the lives of many saints we see this sympathizing heart which they had for all creation, even for the devil. This sacrificial prayer, which takes place within the experience of seeing the divine and discovering the person, is called a royal priesthood, and all who pray noetically (means inside the mind) have what is called spiritual ordination.
(Excerpt from the book "The person in the Orthodox Church", by Bishop of Nafpaktos, Hierotheos)
The prayer of the heart is a liturgy inside us. Church building is our body, and altar is our heart, and the 'word' of God, the son of God, whose name is pronounced in our heart, is our sacrifice. (St. Maximos the Confessor)
From our baptism and our chrismation, we receive priesthood, we are priests of God, but not with the same way as the ordained priests of the Church. When we use the prayer of the heart deeply, we do a kind of liturgy in our heart.
I humbly encourage all to start practicing the prayer of the heart. But because we will have many questions, we need resources. Please do not make the same mistake it is often done with the Bible: we buy a Bible and think we understand it, each one of us as he or she wants. But the right thing is to find how the Church understands and interprets the Bible. The same goes with prayer. We must find how holy people practice it, what were their difficulties, their mistakes, their temptations. Please pray that many books about Jesus prayer will be translated into Chinese, and thus, Chinese saints will teach us in the future.
* KJV = King James Version (Bible)