What Is A Prayer Word Or Mantra?
WHAT IS A PRAYER WORD OR MANTRA?
“…In Meditation, then, we declare our own poverty. We renounce words, thoughts, imagination and we do so by restricting the mind to the poverty of one word.” (John Main, Word Into Silence)
Sacred Word The word mantra is Sanskrit. It means, “that which clears the mind.” Mantra is defined as a ‘sacred text or passage’ in the Oxford English Dictionary. It is used here within a Christian context of a sacred prayer word.
Emphasis on Continuous Repetition Common to the tradition of using a mantra is the emphasis on continuous repetition of the word with deepening faith and fidelity as it becomes rooted in the heart and opens the grace of contemplation – our entry into the prayer of Jesus himself in the Holy Spirit.
Stay With the Same Word The consistent teaching is to stay with the same mantra day by day. John Main recommends choosing one mantra only and not changing it. That way the mantra can become rooted in the heart; it eventually becomes spiritually part of us.
“…As you persevere with the mantra you will begin to understand more and more deeply, out of your own experience, what Jesus meant when he said, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’…”(John Main, Word Into Silence)
John Main recommended the early Aramaic Christian prayer ‘maranatha’.
This is a scriptural phrase meaning ‘Come Lord’ (1Cor: 16:22), in the language Jesus spoke, Aramaic, and a sacred phrase in the early Christian liturgy.
The word Maranatha is the final instruction of St. Paul's teachings to the Corinthians, and is St. John's final instruction in the Book of Revelations. The last word, the final teaching of the entire Christian Bible is "Maranatha”.
Although this is not the only Christian mantra or prayer word, it is the one our meditation community recommends.