Praying “The Jesus Prayer”
I invite you to engage in a contemplative spiritual practice with a familiar Eastern Orthodox prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” The Jesus Prayer is mirrored after the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18:9-14, where the tax collector said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” The Jesus Prayer is esteemed as a method for bringing about the Prayer of the Heart. The Prayer of the Heart is considered to be the Unceasing Prayer that the Apostle Paul advocates. The Jesus Prayer is a good way to focus on Jesus, achieve inner stillness, and learn how to pray unceasingly. Let’s look closely at the underlying meaning of these words:
Lord: While “Lord” can connote dominion and authority, it is good to remember that the authority with which Jesus taught was an inner authority, born of his awareness that he was God’s own son.
“Therefore God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, and at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, or those who in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)
Jesus Christ: Jesus is both human and divine. “Jesus” was a common Hebrew name and “Christ” means anointed, chosen. We need both to ground us in the ordinary everyday world and to draw us toward eternal union. Scripture tells us that there is a power associated with calling upon the name of Jesus.
Sinner: One way that “Sin” may be considered is that which keeps us from knowing and living out of our Divine Self, that which is made in God’s image and has His attributes. We are prone to forget our inherent God nature. Don’t think of sin as just individual shame based moral failings. Understand it in the context of how our False Self keeps us from mystical union with God in Jesus Christ. Let this realization lead you to a place of humble repentance.
Mercy: Pope Francis says that mercy is the highest virtue in the hierarchy of Christian truths. God’s mercy is abundant, never withheld, and restores intimacy with self, God, and others.
Using this prayer and Jesus as the focal point, say the words repeatedly until the prayer moves from your head into your heart and you connect with Christ’s Presence that is already within you, ceaselessly interceding on your behalf. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Close by reading the Prayer of Saint Patrick: Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.”
Posted on February 25, 2020