Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Jesus Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. This is the Jesus Prayer. It is attributed to Eastern Orthodox mystical tradition. Often times the prayer is said in constant repetition as a way of centering the soul. But this form of prayer should be seen as having meaning as we need to stop our soul and see what Jesus is really doing in our lives. In other words, it is not meant as a mantra but rather as a sincere petition to the living Lord to do actually what the prayer is saying. Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, HAVE MERCY ON ME, A SINNER.

If we think we are in control of our lives, we are lying to ourselves. We are not our lord. If we were, we all would have done a better job. Our problem is we go though life not truly walking as if Jesus is in our neighborhood. And then crap happens. Then we stop and make demands of God telling Him what He needs to do! Who is lord of Whom? An authentic recitation of the Jesus Prayer requires humility from the petitioner: Jesus, You are Lord and God, perfect and holy. I am a sinner, guilty in the sight of my Father in heaven. I place myself before you. I seek your mercy. Remember, there really isn't any laundry list such as, I need that promotion so I can buy a new car. I am lonely please help me find a partner to alleviate my loneliness. Basically the prayer says my heart is open to whatever you know I need. I am at your mercy. You are my Lord!

The Jesus Prayer developed from the biblical tradition of people coming to Jesus, acknowledging his messianic divinity, and asking for mercy. Their character was one of humility. Three passages come to mind:

In each of these passages, the petitioner approaches Jesus out of their poverty, not entitlement. They acknowledge Him as the Messiah. They have an authentic understanding of who they are in relationship to Jesus. They ask Him to have mercy. This is their faith.

I will often say the Jesus Prayer on my walks as my thoughts often become runaway thoughts of all the negatives in my life from the 'should of''s' to the hurts and worries that I have no control over. By stopping and not trying for any great argument with God on how I think He should run the world, I acknowledge Him as my Lord and my guilt by stopping my worldly thoughts and beseeching Him for His mercy. By doing this I accept His undeserved kindness (grace). I try not to be perfect and let Him do what He has to do! After all, who beside Jesus knows my needs better!