I told him that the soul could be freed from sinful thoughts only by our willingness to guard the mind and clean the heart, and this could be accomplished using the Jesus Prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me) performed continuously and internally. I added that according to the Holy Fathers, one who performs good deeds only because is fearful of hell, follows the way of bondage, and one who does the same because he wants to be rewarded with Heaven follows the way of some type of bargaining with God. The first is like a slave, the other a hired hand. But God doesn’t want either. He wants us to come to Him as children to their Father. He wants us to behave towards Him with honor and because of our love for Him, to work with zeal according to His will. He wants us to find our happiness in uniting ourselves with Him, in uniting our mind and heart with our Savior.
From The Way of the Pilgrim
Translated by Dr. Nick Stergiou
The Jesus prayer is the way to unit us with God