“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

My spiritual director asked at our last meeting what special “thing” will I be doing for Lent (just as he does for Advent).  After praying about this for a few days I decided to start praying the “Jesus Prayer”.

Why this prayer?  It is grounded in Sacred Scripture, it is the combination of the confession of St. Peter “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16) with “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” (Luke 18:13).

This is a prayer of repetition, and there are a few versions of this prayer. The prayer above is the typical one, however the Gospel of Matthew is my specialty, and so I like the version that matches Matthew 16:16.  “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner.”  Note: The title “Son of God” is found 42 times in the New Testament, for a few examples see John 1:49 and 11:27. Another version: “Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me.”

The prayer can be done by itself, or with beads called “Chotki” or “Jesus beads”. The beads typically are in a count of 25, 50 or 100, with perhaps a Jerusalem cross, or a tassel at the start/end.  The Jesus prayer is also prayed using a standard Rosary.  The beads help to focus the mind on the prayer.  The Jesus Prayer can also be done using a breathing technique: inhale for “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God” and exhale for “have mercy on me, a sinner”.

Combining three things for focus: a quiet location, the beads, and breathing technique with the simple prayer derived from Sacred Scripture, can move prayer from being just memorized words to a prayer of love from the heart.