I first heard of the Jesus Prayer a few years back whilst away on a retreat weekend. Basically, it’s a phrase taken from the gospels, uttered in part by Bartimaeus to Jesus: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy upon me.’ This phrase is used often in Eastern Orthodox circles as a meditative phrase for prayer, often accompanied by use of a chotki, a prayer rope, which helps the pray-er intersperse recitation of the Lord’s prayer after ten or so ‘Jesus prayers’. Sometimes when engaging prayer we might not have a sense of what it is we want to say, but simply want to spend the time with the Lord in prayer. I find this meditative approach helpful. It turns my mind towards the Author and Perfector of our faith and fixes my attention on His presence and my need for Him to guide me.
It’s also a prayer you can pray for others: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on…..[enter whatever/whoever].
Is this necessary? No…it’s just one way to engage in prayer beyond our usual pattern. For me, it is one of the forms of prayer I turn to very often throughout the day whether I’m in the queue at the coffee shop, driving in the car, walking or doing things around the house. I usually keep my ‘chotki’ in my coat pocket or round my wrist too, which is useful not because I always want to count prayers, but as a reminder to become aware of his presence. That’s not to say that I don’t do a ‘round’ interspersed with the Lord’s prayer, but it’s often just a physical reminder and focus for prayer that stops my head getting distracted. Why not try it? Take some time and sit with those words. Say them our loud or in your head. Focus on the words, the meaning of each one. Focus on what the request means for you at this time. Where do you need his help and mercy? Affirm Him as Lord. See how it goes!