The Jesus Prayer

The Jesus Prayer

The Jesus Prayer is a prayer practice where one focuses all of one’s attention and devotion upon Christ.  This form of prayer is rooted in various Scripture passages such as Mark 10:47 where Blind Bartimaeus cries out for Jesus’ help and also Luke 18:13 in the parable of The Pharisee and the Publican where the publican humbly confesses his inadequacy before God.  The key phrase is “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”  The Jesus’ prayer probably began around the 4th century and was often prayed by the desert fathers and mothers.  They would repeat this prayer until it became rhythmically connected to one’s breath.  It became a very popular form of prayer in Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

Practicing the Jesus’ prayer is simple.  Repeat silently again and again the phrase: "Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me."  Any variation of this phrase is acceptable.  Choose whatever feels comfortable as long as the name of Jesus is included.  Usually one begins with 10 or 15 minutes and may add additional time as the practice deepens.  When distractions come (and they will), simply and gently turn your mind back to Christ by repeating your prayer.  The Jesus prayer can be used when one is alone or in a group, in the car or on a walk, absolutely any and everywhere.  If you want to read more about the Jesus prayer, one classic called The Way of a Pilgrim is a good introduction.


  • The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way, translated by Helen Bacovcin
  • Writings from the Philokalia: On Prayer of the Heart, translated by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer
  • The Art of Prayer: An Orthodox Anthology, translated by E. Kadloubovsky and E.M. Palmer with an introduction by Timothy Ware

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