"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And word became flesh."
John 1:1, 14
In the book of 1 Thessalonians (5:17) we are told to "pray without ceasing". The original Greek word for pray means to offer, or to make, prayers, supplications, or worship to God without intermission, or incessantly.
In the world of meditation there is a common term for the mind that is constantly distracted, monkey mind. Monkey mind is a label that represents being mentally unsettled, restless, capricious, whimsical, inconsistent, confused, indecisive, and uncontrollable. It is a state of mind that limits us from experiencing a deep relationship with knowledge. The restless mind is a barrier to dwelling in the boundless peace and wisdom of God.
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I believe Paul, author of 1 Thessalonians, reflecting on his own mental wanderings, and it's potential to lead us astray, advised all followers to discipline the mind. Paul's insight is remarkable and highlights his knowledge of human nature.
If you've ever paused for a moment to listen to conversations in a crowd, what is typically reflected is an array of emotions expressed as fears, anxiety, boasting, self-centeredness, and alike. Now imagine this crowd in a church! Screeching monkey voices, jumping around, chattering, carrying on endlessly within the church walls, dozens of monkeys clamoring for attention. This is hardly how the body of Christ should conduct itself.
Instead the body of Christ should have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), and that takes discipline and persistence. (Titus 2:12, Hebrews 12:1, 2 Timothy 1:7) The tradition of mono-logistic prayer, prayer that employs a sacred prayer, or word, recited continuously with reverence toward God is an ancient Christian practice that has help people become saints, true saints.
The most revered, and widely used mantra is the Jesus Prayer. Still in use by the Orthodox Church, the Jesus Prayer employs the words of the those who saw Jesus in biblical times and implored Him to have mercy. The request never went unanswered by Jesus.
Later, St Benedict adopted (Psalm 69:2) "O God come to my assistance, O Lord make haste to help me" as his ritualistic prayer mantra of choice. Over the centuries several monasteries employed Psalm 69:2 as the focal point to mental discipline.
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Nearly a thousand years later, an anonymous writer who penned the Cloud of Unknowing, suggests the use of less syllables with a single monosyllabic word such as "God" as the the preferred method in taming the mind toward God.
In the twentieth century, John Main, a catholic priest, introduced the Aramaic Christian prayer mantra "maranatha". The word maranatha is located in 1Cor: 16:22 and it means. "come, Lord Jesus" or Lord Jesus, come. In the second to last chapter in the book of Revelation, John also expresses himself in the same way. Revelation 22:20 states, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"
Learning how to live with internal contemplative silence and stillness (hesychia) is not a formula, nor is it a method, it is the opposite. The quietness, silence, and stillness of God is not something we do, it is something we gently allow to be within ourselves. A prayer-mantra spoken, mentally or verbally, is simply a way of calming the monkey mind which eventually becomes submissive to God. When we initiated the process of a repetitive scriptural prayer in love and devotion toward God we give the mind something to focus on. Rather then letting go wild on its own exploring a million carnal thoughts, a prayer-mantra sets it on one path, one thought. Distractions are met with understanding and resolution via scriptural references, then prayer mantra resumes indefinitely.
What you just learned is a brief description of the monastic life that so many are attracted to, and rightly so. This lays the foundation for the top five Christian meditation mantras and their practice.
Top 5 Christian Meditation Mantras
One word two syllables wrapped in holiness -- Jesus. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord is saved. (Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13) Want to experience your salvation in meditation, call on the name of the Lord!
This is the first and original biblical mantra that people used to experience God their creator. If you repeat this mantra silently try to mentally say "Yah" on the inhale, and "weh" on the exhale. It will clear your mind and bring you peace all day.
3. Lord, have mercy
This phrase is used twelve times in the New Testament, none more poignant than Luke 18:10-14. In this story, Jesus highlights that fact that a humble person who asks for mercy is justified, and not a religious person. The proper way to say this prayer is, "Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner." This is not the shortest prayer on our list but it will definitely wipe out the monkey mind and make way for God's love and mercy to be exalted.
4. Lord Jesus, come
By repeating this mantra, you repeat the word of Paul and John. "Lord Jesus, come" is a favorite among some in the catholic faith. To say it in the proper Aramaic language, one would say "maranatha". Alternatively, one could say, "Our Lord has come"
5. Lord Jesus, help me
Since St Benedict Psalm 69:2 "O God come to my assistance, O Lord make haste to help me" has been an old time favorite. but with many words and syllables we narrowed it down to its minimal form, "Lord Jesus, help me".
The greatest conclusion we can come to is this. If we don't train our mind someone else will. No matter what position you take, the brain is designed to absorb information, process it, recall it, and form new thought. If our mind is not disciplined it can become a cesspool of worldly jargon and affairs, or what Jesus calls a field of weeds which we are to uproot.
By concentrating on a scriptural prayer mantra we embed God's word into our flesh, the brain. So the word becomes flesh in us. The monkey mind doesn't stand a chance. This action can, and will, rewire our brain to form new neurological patterns compliant to God. (Romans 12:2) Out of all the tools we have as Christians repeating a simple prayer-mantra is the easiest to perform.
We would love to hear about your favorite Christian meditation mantras that help you gain peace in a crazy world. Post them below and share them with the world. We love you and we're praying for you.