This week I am revisiting what is known as the "Jesus Prayer". It is one very simple prayer, in one thought, which communicates and professes a myriad of things. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
The prayer was formed by the early Desert Fathers, and it eventually became a classic and common form of prayer. You see a similar statement in Luke 18:35-43 with the blind beggar, and you commonly see historic uses of it in rhythm with your breathing. (Inhale "Lord Jesus Christ....Exhale "have mercy on me...")
I am reading and praying the Jesus Prayer this week with refreshing realizations. In one simple prayer, you profess adoration and attrition. You profess the glory of God and the sinfulness of man. It is penitential while also being joyful and confident. It is fundamentally Christilogical.
It is simple enough to begin as we realize the most common block to prayer is the act of simply beginning. The prayer is discursive: it does not move from one thought to another. Yet, some have said, it sums up the whole Gospel.
It professes the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the reality of the Incarnation by addressing Jesus. It is a profession of what Jesus is; Son of God, which opens a profession of the Trinity (SON to the FATHER; something we'd only believe with the help of the SPIRIT).
It also professes and confesses our dire need for mercy and grace, which theologians stuffily refer to as "depravity". The prayer leads our thoughts to the life of Christ while facing us with the story of our helplessness. It is a petition of a poor, humble, and recognizably sinful soul. It is a CRY for mercy.
In most cases, it is intended to be repeated frequently throughout the day to help accomplish what Paul challenged us to do; PRAY CONSTANTLY (1 Thess. 5:17). When repeated frequently, it can lead to a real life change. It reorders our priorities.
It can be practiced and prayed anywhere at any moment. It does not have to be vocalized, and at different times, can find its deeps soul-connection in the silent meeting of the heart. C.S. Lewis wrote, "I still think the prayer without words is the best--if one can really achieve it."
I intend to write it out, to vocalize it, and to silently drive my soul to pray it as constantly as I can muster.
LORD JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, HAVE MERCY ON ME, A SINNER