Prayer for the Month

The Jesus Prayer.


Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,

have mercy on me a sinner.


The Jesus Prayer comes to us from the Orthodox tradition.


It is a very simple prayer that ‘works’ with our breathing. It is a response to St Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 5.17: “Pray without ceasing.”


The prayer is very simple and can be memorised in a few minutes.

With the in-breath we silently pray the first phrase, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God.” As we exhale we silently pray the second phrase, “have mercy on me a sinner.”


It is a way of making silent prayer - meditation a constant activity; through prayer and meditation we grow closer to God. I was taught it when I was about 20 and have been trying to pray it since then. At first it requires a conscious effort; eventually it comes to us naturally and ‘we find ourselves praying’, meditating with our heart.


Jesus calls us to simplicity in our prayers: in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches us that when we pray we should not "heap up empty phrases," (Matthew 6.7) thinking that our prayers will be heard simply for the quantity of the words.


Saint John Climacus, (a sixth century monk and author of the great spiritual work Ladder of Divine Ascent) instructs us to "pray in all simplicity" warning us that if we "talk excessively in prayer, our mind can be distracted by our search for words. Brief prayer can help us concentrate.


I often use this prayer as a silent start to a time of meditation; I often pray it silently when I am praying for another and do not know how to pray or what to pray.


It is a simple prayer that resides in the heart.


As with all prayer, pray as you can, not as you can’t! so if the Jesus Prayer helps you then it is a tool to use and a gift from the Orthodox tradition. If is does not help you then set it aside.