Beginning Prayer: The Jesus Prayer

October 02, 2012

Beginning Prayer: The Jesus Prayer

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Throughout my ups and downs of a life of prayer I have had no greater companion than the "Jesus Prayer". Just a few simple words, an ancient attempt at practicing what Paul told us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 when he said "Don't stop praying" (NLT).

I first discovered the Jesus Prayer when reading a book on Eastern Orthodox Monasticism (A great read "The Mountain of Silence"). This really got me going. I was a newlywed at the time and the last thing any bride wants to hear about is her new husband getting into monasticism.
The Jesus Prayer became a close friend. I even started adopting the EO practice of a prayer rope. Different fromt the Roman Catholic rosary, the Orthodox (and Anglican) tradition of a prayer rope focuses on counting how many times you pray short little prayers. The amount of times doesn't bring you to greater holiness but trains your instincts. Making a decision to pray 100x a day starts to teach you to pray without knowing it. I rarely leave the house without my rope in my pocket. Everytime I touch it I am reminded to prayer and the power I have through Jesus Christ.
So for almost 8 years part of my waking and preparing each day is a recitation of these words...
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
I have had plenty of conversations with people about this. It sometimes makes people uncomfortable. The awareness of the sinful state of the human heart reminds us at times what our true stance without Christ is. Many times we don't want to acknowledge this. But the prayer begins with a confession of who this person named Jesus is; the lord at the center of all our world, the human representation of God come to us and the anointed Messiah who redeems us from our sin.
If you are just beginning a life of prayer or are looking for new practices, I would highly recommend a season with the Jesus Prayer.