Q: If I have understood correctly, salvation is attained mostly through asceticism, watchfulness and the Jesus prayer. Allow me however a question. I ask it not because I agree with it but because I hear many objections about the Jesus prayer.
They say that the "Jesus prayer" and the way it is practiced is a Christian yoga and is connected with prototypes of Eastern religions. What do you have to say about this?
A: It seems that those who say this are completely ignorant of the grace-filled state of our Church, since we obtain divine grace through the Jesus prayer. They have not experienced it that is why they do not know it. Yet they should never accuse those who have experience. They blaspheme against the Holy Fathers as well. Many of the Fathers fought for the Jesus prayer, and they spoke strongly about its value. What then? Did they fall into error? Did St. Gregory Palamas fall into error? They are even ignorant of the Holy Bible. The blind men said the words: "Son of David have mercy on us", (Matt. 20. 30), which means "Jesus have mercy on us", and their sight was restored; the lepers said it and they were cured from their leprosy (Lk. 4. 27), etc. The prayer "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me", consists of two basic points: The dogmatic one –acknowledgment of the Divinity of Christ– and the suppliant one –supplication for our salvation. In other words the confession of faith in Christ is connected with the confession of our inability to be saved of our own accord. This says everything, and the whole struggle of the Christian is based on these two points: Faith in Christ and awareness of our sinfulness. The "Jesus Prayer", therefore, expresses to the utmost the effort of the faithful in a few words and summarizes all the dogmatic teaching of our Orthodox Church.
Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos