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The Simplest, Most Profound Prayer

The Jesus Prayer is the simplest and most profound vocal prayer. It goes like this:

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

These words come to us through Sacred Scripture, specifically Luke 18:10-14:

"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.' But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’

Another version of this prayer comes to us in Matthew 14:30:

"But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’

These passages and this prayer help us face more starkly fear and sin and how they effect others. They also stoke more deeply the fires that burn within us, causing us to yearn for greater union with the God who created us.

If we allow this prayer to settle into the core of our being, it will automatically transform into a contemplative prayer that will reveal more clearly what St. Paul meant when he called us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

As a matter of form, Eastern Christians commonly use the traditional Orthodox prayer rope made of woolen knots to maintain focus while praying this prayer.


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