The Jesus Prayer, A Journey of Faith 1

Posted: January 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Prayer | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

For me, the Jesus Prayer stands like an icon at the center of my journey into the Christian faith. And yet, it’s an odd icon, for I prayed it for many years before I really understood that it was a distinct prayer tradition of the church. I suppose it’s fitting that what is considered the central work on the Jesus Prayer is itself a story of a journey, The Way of the Pilgrim. I haven’t yet read that spiritual work, but I have a feeling I will empathize with the Pilgrim in his search.

I suppose a bit of background is in order for those who are not familiar with the tradition of the Jesus Prayer. It is drawn, in large part, from the parable in Luke 18, so I believe that’s the best place to start.

9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The point, of course, is as clear as that of any parable. The moment we believe that we are more spiritually accomplished or blessed in any way over anyone else, we stand in the shoes of the Pharisee. We essentially thank God that we are at least not like those others, whoever those others may be. I know that is where I most often find myself. And yet this parable tells us that only when we pray for mercy, acknowledging our own state, can we return to our house that day justified. When we pray exalting ourselves, we might as well not have prayed at all.

The Jesus Prayer is drawn directly from that parable. It doesn’t really have one set form, but its longest form is probably, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, be merciful to me a sinner.” Another common form is, “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me.” Its shortest form is likely, “Lord have mercy.”

That’s probably enough for this first post. I’ll continue with this series when next I write.


2 Comments on “The Jesus Prayer, A Journey of Faith 1”

  1. 1 Anders Branderud said at 4:46 am on January 5th, 2010:

    You wrote about foregiveness and I want to comment on that.

    (le-havdil) How to live in order to enable the Creator in His loving kindness to provide His foregivness is outlined in Tan’’kh ( the Jewish Bible) ; and was also taught by the first century Ribi Yehoshua from Nazareth (the Mashiakh; the Messiah) (His teachings are found here: Netzarim.)

    Tan’’kh – for example Yekhëzqeil (Hezekiel) 18 – promises foregivness to those and only those whom do their sincerest to keep the mitzwot (commandments) in Torah. The Creator cannot lie and He does not change (Malakhi 3:6)!

    There is no historical record of a human that have kept Torah perfectly. There is a provision. Ribi Yehoshua ha-Mashiakh (also a human) lived and kept Torah with the sincerest of his heart, died innocently and became a sacrifice.

    Because of this the Creator can give His foregiveness to everyone doing his/her sincerest to keep His instructions found in Torah, and to everyone turning away from their Torah-breaches to instead starting to do their sincerest to keep the instructions in Torah.

    The NT-view contradicts ha-Sheims Words in Tan”kh.

    Anders Branderud

  2. 2 Scott said at 5:05 am on January 5th, 2010:

    I’m familiar with the modern “messianic” movements. Thanks, but no thanks. It’s not one of the tens of thousands of modern splinter sects that holds any appeal for me. I’ll also note that your comment had essentially nothing to do with my post and appears to be little more than an attempt to use my blog as a free advertising platform.

    I’ll leave the comment above (with the links removed) so that my response makes sense. However, any future comments will be treated like spam.