The Jesus Prayer

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Praying with the heart - the Jesus Prayer

rope "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

This is a form of praying that has been central to a major part of the Christian world for centuries. It grew in the Eastern Orthodox churches and has come into the western churches in comparatively recent times. It is a short prayer which is repeated to oneself many times, so it sinks deep into us and becomes the fulfilment of St. Paul's urging that we 'pray at all times'.

There are variations on the wording above, with shorter versions too. Some add Son of the Living God, others leave out a sinner. We use the version printed above.

There are times when we can only express our deepest feelings in the simplest words, which this prayer uses, repeated many times. The Jesus Prayer can be used at any time and in any place, either very briefly or for a long time. You can pray it at home, travelling, at work, in a difficult meeting etc. When used for a time of concentrated prayer the Jesus Prayer gives the top of our minds something to do, so that the rest of our mind can be open to the deeper feelings that lie underneath.

The Bible base

The early Christian hermits wanted to look to Jesus alone when they prayed. They took the simple direct prayers of the gospels, which spoke of longing, and love, and their need of healing and repentance.

The ten lepers of Luke 17:13 Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
The two blind men of Matthew 9:27 Have mercy on us, Son of David.
The tax collector in Luke 18:13 Have mercy on me, a sinner.

The desert monks spoke of ceaselessly calling on the Name of the Lord Jesus. 'You must take this alone for your meditation and constant occupation, renouncing your own will as you continually seek healing and purity of heart.'

The Prayer is complete. It embodies the Incarnation of Jesus, the Son of God, and the Trinity. It points to the Father and it is done in the power of the Spirit. 'No one can say Jesus Christ is Lord, except in the Holy Spirit.' 1 Corinthians 12.3.

It has praise and penitence. It asks for both forgiveness and the anointing of grace and love. The penitential aspect is not hopeless grovelling, but a realistic self-knowledge, in the grace of God who forgives and sets us free.