There it is, The Jesus Prayer. The Jesus prayer has its origins in the gospels, Luke chapter 18. Jesus tells a parable about a publican (tax collector) and a Pharisee praying in the synagogue. Jesus gives us a glance into the two different prayers that are being prayed and the the publican's prayer is "God, be merciful to me a sinner."
This prayer is to the Eastern Catholics about what the Hail Mary is to Western Catholics. In The Pilgrim's Tale the Jesus prayer is exemplified in the life of a pilgrim who desires to live out the command, pray always. He is told to pray the Jesus Prayer, daily increasing the number of times which he prays it, the goal being for him to be always praying it, almost like a spiritual breathing.
This is a prayer I have been turning to with an increasing frequency, partially because it's short. But also because I have been realizing how appropriate a statement and response it is to nearly everything the world sends at us. In The Secret of Father Brown, G. K. Chesterton reveals that the reason Fr. Brown can solve the many and varied criminal mysteries with which he is confronted is simply because he thinks how he himself would commit that crime. He knows that he is quite as capable of any of the sins as any other. He has heard countless sinners confessing countless sins and he knows that it is simply the grace of God that holds him.
This understanding is absolutely vital to the christian life. When we stand in line for confession or "The sinners line" as a good friend likes to call it we are reminded of our own faults and weaknesses and that awareness is the beginning of the constant conversion to which we are called. Turning and turning again to Jesus and saying "Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner."
When we hear of grave evil in the world it is easy to take the side of the pharisee and say, God I thank you that I am not like other men. This is not true, I am one of those of fall and fail daily, who must always be calling out "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."
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