May 2012 - Opening Ourselves to Grace
Many spiritual disciplines can strengthen our lives, but one that is easily practiced is praying the Jesus Prayer. It is grounded in the story of Blind Bartimaeus, who stands by the side of the road and cries, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47).
The blind man cries out to Jesus from the darkness of his existence, hoping, with a fervent power that overcomes hesitancy, that Jesus will hear and respond. People in Biblical times had an appreciation for the power of the spoken word that we have lost in our modern era. Prayer-filled spoken words grounded in ancient prayer practices can help to shape a stronger
prayer life and in turn to shape us.
The Jesus Prayer is simple, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” We do not know exactly when the Jesus Prayer began as an ancient prayer practice, but it was very popular during the monastic era of the Eastern (Orthodox) Church. Dan Wolpert, in Creating a Life with God, The Call of Ancient Prayer Practices, emphasizes that this simple prayer practice
can enrich prayer life, which helps to shape our discipleship. Practicing the Jesus Prayer is simple. Be disciplined in the practice until you feel God’s presence distinctly surrounding you.
PRACTICING THE JESUS PRAYER
Decide how much time you want to spend in prayer. Begin with at least 15 minutes to start. The Jesus Prayer can be prayed anywhere at any time – as you walk, in your office, on
the bus, late at night, early in the morning, during noontime, in or out of church.
Repetition should be continuous and rhythmic. Allow the words to flow into your being.
Here are the steps to repeat:
1. Repeat: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.”
2. Keep repeating even though your mind may wander.
3. Bring your thoughts back to the prayer as you orally repeat the words.
4. Give yourself time to sit in silence and solitude between rhythmic and spoken repetition of the Jesus Prayer.
5. Don’t rush.
6. Appreciate the prayer so that the prayer has time to shape your thoughts and feelings.
7. When you have completed your time with the Jesus Prayer, give God thanks.
8. Close your time in silence, and just be.
--Rev. Rebecca Innerst,
Director of Discipleship & Spiritual Formation