In the Orthodox Church there is a popular prayer among monastics called the Jesus Prayer, which is “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me a sinner.” In this prayer is contained every element one needs in a prayer.
For instance “Lord” is acknowledging God as ruler of all creation, ruler of your life and your subservience to Him.
“Jesus” which means God saves- Mathew 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Is understanding what you need Him for and who he is to you: your saviour.
“Christ” which means anointed or messiah is an acknowledgment of the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf. It was his special position as the anointed of God that made His sacrifice possible-the sacrifice which pays the debt for all of our sins.
“Son of God” is acknowledging who He is and why he has the authority to bestow His mercy. He is namely “the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from True God, begotten, not made, one in being with the Father.”-Nicene Creed.
“Have mercy on me” is the only plea one needs to make to God. Matthew 6:31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” God knows already what you need, and his power which is the ultimate mercy is all that need be called upon. If you need healing or material things or are praying for another person, God already knows and will respond in His own way and rain down His mercy upon those who need it. Seek first to know God through repentance and then simply dwelling in His presence and His mercy will fill your life.
“A sinner” is who and what we are and why we need the salvation offered by Jesus along with his mercy.
This prayer is traditionally said in a certain way with certain breathing techniques accompanying it. I’ll try and outline them here.
1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own…
This prayer is directed downward; in a soft whisper one word at a time, with a deep breath separating each word, into the the heart instead of outward or upward. Since the Holy Spirit abides within we must pray inwardly, praying with the heart and not just with the mouth and the mind. What I mean by this is we should pray with faith, hope and love. More often than not we pray with only faith and hope but forget to pray with love. Since love flows from the heart and God is love it is in the heart that we must pray from and to. 1 John 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
The prayer runs like this: (long slow breath inward-hold for a couple seconds) -exhale saying “Lord”, (long slow breath inward-hold for a couple seconds)-exhale saying “Jesus”, (long slow breath inward-hold for a couple seconds)-exhale saying “Christ”, (long slow breath inward-hold for a couple seconds)-exhale saying “Son of God”,(long slow breath inward-hold for a couple seconds)-exhale saying “have mercy on me”, (long slow breath inward-hold for a couple seconds) -exhale saying “a sinner”. The entire prayer is whispered and directed at the heart where God dwells within.
This simple technique is not about words but where the prayer itself is directed-not upwards or outwards, but deep within and can be done with any prayer or selection of scripture. The breathing is a way to settle the mind and allow it to focus in a relaxed manner on God.
As Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:
6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.[
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil
He is telling us to go within ourselves to pray to God for God the Holy Spirit is within us.
I invite all to take a couple minutes and try praying in your heart with whatever words your are comfortable with and see what a difference it makes in connecting to God.