Good day to you my brothers and sisters in Christ. Many Christians want to start using the Jesus Prayer in their lives. This is the prayer that uses the example from the story of the Pharisee and the Publican praying in the temple: The humility of the Publican is clear as he prays: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I normally ask them to start with 100 for the day (If they are really zealous, I would say try 100 in the morning and 100 at night). No more; no less, until you receive permission. After a week, there were some who reported doing 10,000 the previous day. Without exception, they would soon be doing zero. St. John Cassian addresses this issue head on:
“There is an old saying: ‘Excesses meet.’ Too much fasting and too much eating come to the same end. Keeping too long a vigil brings the same disastrous cost as sluggishness. Too much self-denial brings weakness and induces the same condition as carelessness.
Often, I have seen men who would not be snared by gluttony fall, nevertheless, through excessive fasting and tumble in weakness into the very urge which they had overcome. Unmeasured vigils and foolish denial of rest overcame those whom sleep could not overcome. Therefore, ‘fortified to right and to left in the armor of justice,’ as the apostle says (2 Cor. 6:7).
Life must be lived with due measure and, with discernment for a guide, the road must be traveled between the two kinds of excess so that in the end we may not allow ourselves to be diverted from the pathway of restraint which has been laid down for us nor fall through dangerous carelessness into the urgings of gluttony and self-indulgence.” (End quote)
The Christian life is meant to be one of moderation. There is so much danger in wanting to be a “Super-Christian” who fasts beyond belief and prays all night. Perhaps, like me, you have experienced the Superman “S” falling off your chest at some point. There is also so much danger in the opposite direction of being a “Lackadaisical-Christian” who never fasts or prays so very little. Sadly, the path of the “Super-Christian” often leads to one becoming a “Lackadaisical-Christian”.
The Christian life is not a hundred-yard dash. It is meant to be a life-long marathon. We should be strengthened slowly but surely so that our spiritual growth is steady.