The Jesus Prayer

Let’s look closely at the familiar Eastern Orthodox prayer, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner. These words hold rich meaning. Let’s look at the words.

Lord—While the word can connote dominion and hierarchical authority (the Greek, kurios, means master), remember the authority with which Jesus taught was an inner authority, born of his awareness that he was God’s own child. And we have inherited this power!

Jesus Christ—He is both human and divine, personal and infinite. Jesus was a common name (Joshua in Hebrew); Christ means anointed, chosen. We need both to ground us in the ordinary, suffering world and to draw us toward the heaven of union.

Sinner—Remember that sin is simply that which keeps us from knowing and living out of our True Self. We are forgetful of our inherent belovedness. Don’t think of sin as just individual nastiness, which is largely shame-based thinking and in itself does not get you to a good place. We settle for moralism when we do not get to mysticism.

Mercy—We need the salvation of Love to overcome our fear-based disconnection, to return us to wholeness. Abundant, never-withheld, restorative grace brings us back into intimacy with self, God, and others. Pope Francis says that mercy is the highest virtue in the hierarchy of Christian truths.

Using this prayer as a focal point, say the words repeatedly until the prayer moves from your head into your heart and you connect with the Presence already praying ceaselessly within.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Richard Rohr

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