The Jesus Prayer: What is it and How do you Pray It?
A few years ago, a friend of mine recommended that I pray “the Jesus prayer”. I had shared my struggle with a lot of negative self talk and she thought that the Jesus Prayer would be a helpful antidote.
To my surprise, it worked.
Before I go any further though, let me share some details about the Jesus Prayer. It’s quite powerful and could be a powerful asset in your prayer toolbox.
What is it?
It’s very simple and you can pray it anywhere, anytime. Some people use prayer beads but they are not mandatory. The prayer is this:
"Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
It’s been called “essential” to spiritual growth by a number of the Church Fathers. The Jesus Prayer is considered a means of praying without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Since one names Christ as Lord at the very start of the prayer, it is thought to be quite Biblical.
A Biblical Prayer
One can reference Acts 4:12, “. . . for there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved”, Luke 1:31, or Matthew 16:16-18 to name a few. The New Testament is rich with examples of people who call out to Jesus in need of healing or simply seeking answers to life’s difficult problems.
By praying the Jesus Prayer, we return to this tradition in a direct way. It humbles us and reminds us of our complete need of Him. As a prayer it is so beloved by Eastern Christians that it is said to be the most recited prayer after the Our Father and the Hail Mary.
Is it Just Another Mantra?
While some prayers are a means of reducing our stress, the Jesus Prayer is much more. It does not seek to empty the mind but to fill it with the merciful presence of Jesus.
If you’re not convinced yet that the Jesus Prayer is effective, here are some wonderful resources that I can recommend:
The Impact of the Prayer
In my life, the Jesus Prayer has been a great gift. I use it regularly as a way to focus my mind and heart. I will pray it to start the day, to calm me down in the middle of the day and even at random times while running errands. I find that it’s “pure”- I didn’t come up with it and each word is charged with a heart turned towards God. I can put myself second and God first when I pray the prayer.
Do you have to pray it out loud? Not necessarily. I typically do not. Try it out and see if it can be another component of your prayer life. If you’re like me, you might also become an advocate of the Jesus Prayer.
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