H: Indeed, father, we have not said anything up to now about saying the Jesus prayer for others. How can one use the prayer for this purpose?
There is so much misfortune in the world, so much is wrong, there is so much ignorance of God, and that, according to the Fathers, is the greatest sin. Therefore you should cry and pray. St John Climakos has written a speech addressed to the shepherd and spiritual father who is the supervisor of the soul. He says the following. As the shepherd, when the sheep rest, lets the sheepdogs free, round the pen to guard the flock from the wolves, in the same way the priest must stay awake when the Christians sleep and let his mind free (like the dogs) and be watchful to entreat God for His people. How many people act prodigally at that time! How many want to commit suicide! How many are disappointed and in need. You should say the Jesus prayer for all these people—“Lord Jesus Christ have mercy upon thy servants” or “upon thy servant,” if you have a specific case in mind.
H: May I ask you a question? You said earlier that the Jesus prayer should be free from any imaginings. Now you say that we should pray for others, who have so many problems. But doesn’t this, perhaps, increase our imagination and make our mind wander, where in fact we should be trying to concentrate our nous on itself and on the heart?
You did very well to ask me this question, because an explanation about this is necessary. When we pray for others we should do it outwardly. That is, when we want to say the Jesus prayer for other people who are in need, we should say at first, “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy upon thy servants” or “thy servants”, remembering their names, but afterwards, we should continue without mentioning their names and without fixing our mind on them, without thinking of them. God knows who we are praying for then. Also you should not think about the problems that bother them. We only say, have mercy upon thy servant, and God will send His grace. And if he is worthy of accepting it, it will act according to his need. The grace of God, my father, is like the water, which, when it comes in the field, is absorbed by the roots and gives to each tree whatever it needs. Do we not keep the same principle during the Divine Liturgy, too. We pray for all matters and the people answer—“Lord, have mercy”. For, when the mercy of God comes it gives man what he really needs.