The Jesus Prayer
By: The Reverend Mother Barbara Martzall
What is the Jesus Prayer? The Jesus Prayer is actually a prayer that has come down through the history of the Eastern Orthodox Church. It has been called by many names: Prayer of the Heart, Prayer of a Single Thought, or the Prayer.
In this writing, I will not be going into the different manners of saying the prayer. I want to cover just some of the general information. I will let those of you interested in more in-depth information read it from authorities on the subject. I will at the end of the article list several web pages that give some very good in-depth information.
The Jesus Prayer is really a very simple prayer that can be said whenever and wherever you are. The basic form of the prayer is:
"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner"
There are other variations of the prayer, but they all basically say the very same thing in meaning.
When you look at the words, you realize that they are a reminder of the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee that Jesus taught. Also it reminds us of the words Peter said when he was walking on the water and he yelled to Jesus. Simple words actually, but so full of meaning. The prayer can be summed up as the Gospel teachings in one simple sentence. The Gospels teach us that we should pray constantly, that our minds should always be focused on God and that everything we do should be for the glory of God. The Jesus Prayer is the "tool" that will help you keep the teachings of the Gospel.
Over the years, I have heard so many people tell me that they don't have time to pray. Well, there is always time to pray the Jesus Prayer. You don't have to go anywhere special to say the Prayer. You just have to turn inward then say the words silently to yourself. Say the Prayer in your heart and feel the power the Prayer has. It is simple enough that you can pray it when you first get up in the morning, while you are having a meal, while you are traveling to/from work , before going to bed and whenever you find you need that little "pick me up" during the day. The Prayer is so simple that in time you will find that you want to say it all the time!
You will often see people saying the Prayer while using a Prayer Rope. It is not necessary to have a Prayer Rope to say the Prayer. The Prayer Rope helps you focus and "count" the number of times you have said the Prayer. This is more of a practice of a monastic. For the laity, just praying the Prayer quietly whenever and as often as you desire/need is all that is needed.
So why not start now to say the Jesus Prayer! Let the prayer sink into your heart and feel the joy that comes from the words.
For further in depth reading concerning the Jesus Prayer:
- Orthodox Wiki -- Jesus Prayer
- On Practicing the Jesus Prayer by St. Ignatius Branchaninove
- Introduction to the Jesus Prayer by Mother Alexandra
- The Jesus Prayer presented by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America