The Jesus Prayer and Why We Should Pray It

The Jesus Prayer

Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.

Jesus often used parables to illustrate spiritual truths. We find one of these parables in reference to the type of prayer which speaks to the heart of God. In Luke 18 we have two stories of persons invoking God in His mercy, to take pity on them: the tax collector and a blind man.

First, there is the guilty tax collector. His simple prayer is this, “God, be merciful to me a sinner,” Luke 18:13 (KJV) It speaks of a man who has humbled himself to beg of God’s mercy.

In an opposite manner, we see the prayer of a Pharisee whose own acts of goodness blind him from knowing his own heart, “God, I thank you that I am not like all other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all my income.” Luke 18:11-12 (NIV)

This begs the question; which of these two men am I more like, which is the prayer that God honors? “I tell you that this man (tax collector), rather than the other (Pharisee), went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” said Jesus. Luke 18:14 (NIV)

Lord, help me!

Our cries to God, which spring forth from out of our neediness and brokenness, are a sweet savor to Him. Prayers we pray in open honesty of heart are precious to Him. They express our need of Him apart from our humanness.

The most impacting prayers I ever prayed were voiced from out of deep despair within my heart. These prayers I prayed were significant. I knew without a doubt that I had come to the end of my own capabilities and coping mechanisms. These were times when a situation or heartache could not be remedied by me for my loved one or for myself.

The cry wrenched forth “God, help me. This is too much. I can’t do it anymore. I don’t know what to do. I’m afraid and worried. I need Your help.” These prayers were a form of the Jesus Prayer spoken from out of my weariness and worry. My self sufficiency had been compromised. I’m a fairly strong person, but there are times I am terribly weak.

God’s answer to me always came with the same condition; He would say to me, “Then trust Me, my child.”  “Trust Me with all of it.” As best I could, I would lay it at His feet and surrender the process, and desired outcome, to Him. I’d seek to trust. Then I’d let go of my worries as best I could, picturing myself giving them to Him or by writing them down and then praying over them.

As a result, the prayers did not end, I kept praying, but they were prayed differently. God and I become more like a team working toward the same goal. I would trust Him to set up the solution in answer to the problem. Eventually the answer would come but in a different form than I expected. Some are still “in process.”

A follow-up prayer would soon follow, which goes something like this, “Father God, show me what I am to do, show me how to respond. Give me wisdom in this. Help me to follow you. Please show me in a way that I can see it, then give me the strength I will need to accomplish it. Stop me from saying the wrong words or acting in some way that will get ahead of what You are going to do. You lead, I will follow.”

My reliance on God has become stronger and stronger. I have learned through the years, to pray before acting with almost anything of any consequence. Then it is easier to know and do the will of my Father God.

“Lord Jesus” is good prayer to pray and pray often. Spend some time in quietness of spirit saying His name. Say the words with a prayerful heart and with an expectant attitude. “The heart absorbs the Lord and the Lord the heart, and the two become one.” (St. John Chrysostom).

We are inviting the name of Jesus, invoking His name. Soon you will find yourself refreshed, relaxed, and more in tune to your spiritual life.

“Jesus, help (me)” is a simple prayer one can say throughout the day or when the worries press in. It is a prayer in itself.

The Jesus Prayer, “Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”

  • Is directed to Jesus, with whom we have a relationship of faith and love.
  • Is a realization of His presence, His gift of love and care.
  • Is a communing with Jesus Christ.
  • Is an attitude. “The attitude of the soul invites this loving remembrance of God and union of mind and heart with Him.” (Theophan)
  • Creates a stillness in us as we abide in the Shepherd of our heart.
  • Instills and creates a humbleness in us.
  • Reminds us that Christ showed mercy at the cross for sinners in a broken world.
  • Reminds us that God’s mercy is continuous. We constantly ask for mercy, and we constantly receive it.

Blind Bartimaeus shouted in a loud voice, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” (NIV) Two blind men spoke to Jesus, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” (NIV)  Jesus listened and responded. He spoke with them and then healed them of their blindness.

Jesus heals of us our blindness in the spiritual realm. He awaits our stated interest, our calls to Him, and our humbled attitudes. God restores souls and heals hearts. “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner” are gracious words to a Loving Savior, Who waits for us that He might respond to our open hearts in need of His loving grace.

Note: Some of these prayer concepts were adapted from books written by Father Paul Jerome, a hermit monk at Abbey of New Clairvaux.