As we focus this Advent on the coming of Jesus, why not pray one of the most famous prayers in the history of Christianity — the Jesus Prayer?
You will find a version of this prayer in the Gospel of Luke’s story of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The tax collector is praised by Jesus for humbling himself in prayer, saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Christians later expanded the prayer to “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” In the Gospel of Mark, blind Bartimaeus cries out to Jesus, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” Orthodox Christians in the Middle Ages popularized this prayer, believing that the name of Jesus was a source of power and grace leading to a state of inner silence known as hesychia. In short, this prayer drew them closer to God.
- Decide how long you want to spend in this prayer.
- Choose a variation of the Jesus Prayer that suits you:
- “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
- “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”
- “Jesus, have mercy.”
- “Christ, have mercy.”
- You may find a comfortable seated position or you may choose to walk around while engaged in this prayer.
- Breathe naturally and repeat the Jesus Prayer silently for the length of time you have chosen.
- When distractions crop up, return to the prayer.
- When your time is up, reflect on your experience of the Jesus Prayer. Describe your experience (you may want to journal on this). How did you notice the presence of God or Christ in this prayer? What is the value of repeating this prayer over and over silently? Did you notice any inner movements within your spirit as you prayed this prayer?
- End with a short prayer of gratitude.
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