Does it matter in which language the Jesus Prayer is recited, in order to bring about the Prayer of the Heart? I can find some reasons for using one's mother tongue, but also a few for using for example Greek, as on Mount Athos.

If different sub-groups of Orthodoxy have different schools of thought, I'd like an overview of the different perspectives.

In contrast with Islam, the language and its intrinsic power does not seem to play a central role in Christianity, but I was somehow expecting that it would in Hesychasm.

  • There is no official answer on this. Different Christians and different denominations have different views. Can you narrow your question to a specific sect or group of Christians?
    – Flimzy
    Aug 14, 2016 at 9:36
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    @Flimzy The question is specifically asking about Eastern Orthodoxy and about the concept of Hesychasm. I don't know enough to know whether it is a good question from that basis though.
    – curiousdannii
    Aug 14, 2016 at 11:18
  • @Flimzy Thanks for the comment. "Different Christians and different denominations have different views" - assuming you intend within the Eastern Orthodox tradition, a few examples of these groups and their reasons/practices would be the answer I am looking for :) Aug 14, 2016 at 11:55
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    I'm struggling to understand why this question was considered opinion-based and why it was put on hold.
    – user22553
    Aug 16, 2016 at 5:26
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    Just a general advice, while there is no central authority as in the Catholic Church (the Pope the Bishop of Rome) in general Greece and Russia are viewed as some sort of great source of history and spirituality, sort of a: first was Greece as the remnants of the Byzantine Empire, then Russia, the communism came, and Greece was again the center of things, and when I sat Greece I mean Greece + the city of Constantinopol (modern day Istanbul). Some ultra-orthodox monk could tell you that there is higher value in reciting the prayer in greek, but in general no, you are good to go.
    – Dan
    Aug 20, 2016 at 8:30

2 Answers 2


The general guideline of the Orthodox Church has always been to allow believers to worship, read and pray in the language which they understand.

In his Ecclesiastical History, Theodoret describes how, in the 4th century, John Chrysostom ministered to the Goths (Scythians) within Greek-speaking Constantinople itself:

Appointing presbyters and deacons and readers of the divine oracles who spoke the Scythian tongue, he assigned a church to them, and by their means won many from their error. He used frequently himself to visit it and preach there, using an interpreter who was skilled in both languages, and he got other good speakers to do the same. This was his constant practice in the city, and many of those who had been deceived he rescued by pointing out to them the truth of the apostolic preaching.

Book V, Chapter XXX

The existence of the Cyrillic alphabet provides another such example of such support. The Prologue describes how Cyril and Methodius ministered to the Slavs:

When the Khazarite king, Kagan, sought preachers of the Christian faith from the Emperor Michael, the Emperor commanded that these two brothers be found and sent to the Khazars. They converted Kagan to the Christian faith and baptised him, together with a great number of his nobles and an even greater number of the people. After some time, they returned to Constantinople, where they compiled a Slavic alphabet of 38 letters and began to translate the service books from Greek into Slavonic. At the invitation of Prince Rastislav, they went to Moravia, where, with great devotion, they spread and confirmed the Faith, made more copies of the books, brought them priests and taught the young.

Lives of Sts. Cyril and Methodius

Today the Orthodox Church comprises four of the five ancient Patriarchates (Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem), nine autocephalous Churches (ten if the Orthodox Church in America is counted), and five autonomous Churches (Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Church, pp. 5-6). These Churches not only support worship in the local language, but also - in the spirit of John Chrysostom - often in the language of any foreigners who happen to be present. In the Cathedral of St. Luke in Hong Kong, which belongs to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, for example, I have heard English, Cantonese, Greek, Romanian, Russian, and French all used in the same service, depending on who happened to be visiting that particular Sunday.

Although the Jesus Prayer is understood to be mystical by Orthodox believers, it is not "magical". It is a prayer and not an incantation and, as such, falls entirely within the Orthodox tradition of prayer and worship in one's own language.


Coming from an Eastern-Orthodox background, we recited the prayer in our native language(Romanian) and that was enough.You are good to go. You can recite the prayer in what language is more suited for you. For instance, even know the Romanian Orthodox Church is a national Chruch, there are a number of Ukrainians that are under the administration of the Church, but still they celebrate liturgy in their own language.

  • I assume you were part of the Romanian Orthodox Church? Romanian is the official language of that church, so your experience does not mean that other languages are accepted.
    – curiousdannii
    Aug 20, 2016 at 8:40
  • I don't quite understand what you mean by "your experience does not mean that other languages are accepted". So... yes, that is the Romanian Orthodox Church, and yes Romanian is the official language because the vast majority of faithful are Romanians. But you can pray that prayer in what language you want! And if you are a minority group, I think (I think I remember a case with the Serbs) you can even have the liturgy in that language (e.g border villages where Serbs are the majority). So there is no problem!
    – Dan
    Aug 20, 2016 at 9:09
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    You are probably correct, but it would improve this answer even more if you could give some references to official church documents which agree :)
    – curiousdannii
    Aug 20, 2016 at 9:30

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