OLPH Church
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Byzantine Catholic Church

The Jesus Prayer

“Oh, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
have mercy on me a sinner”

 

This prayer has the potential to transform your consciousness and bring you closer to God. It is a prayer rooted deeply in the tradition of the Church. It is a prayer to be repeated over and over, many times. You can begin to develop the use of this prayer by incorporating a number of repetitions in your daily prayer rule. It is a simple prayer and you can learn to say it everywhere and at any time. In fact, your aim should be to make it an unending prayer. In this way your whole life becomes a life of prayer.


Recognize, however, that this prayer is incredibly difficult to practice even though it seems to be very simple. In its practice, you continually recite it so that it permeates your heart and focuses your mind, predisposing you to follow God’s will instead of your own ego-directed will.


Start by repeating it for ten minutes in the morning or evening. Begin by saying it out loud or at least by moving your lips. Eventually you will repeat it mentally, but start with a verbal prayer. Add more repetitions, slowly building up the time you are able to concentrate on the prayer. When your mind wanders, bring it back to the prayer. Concentrate, but do not be harsh on yourself. This is not something you will master with your self-will. Ask God to help you conquer the restlessness of your mind. With persistence, humility and patience, the practice of this prayer will prepare you for God’s grace to work actively within you.


Along with saying this prayer as part of your prayer rule, try to say it whenever you can. You can do this while walking, while waiting in the doctor’s office, in line at the post office, or while waiting to board a plane. You can say it when doing dishes or yard work. You can say it when you are stressed, afraid, or nervous. When you become angry, repeat this prayer over and over until your anger subsides. Do this whenever your mind is agitated, and you will find that it will calm your mind. When you do say it, be sure to think of God and His endless love and seek His mercy.
The use of the Jesus Prayer is done with an attitude of repentance and humility seeking an encounter with the living Christian God, Jesus Christ. We may gain benefits of relaxation or reduced stress, but this is not the aim of our effort. Union with God is. It is NOT a mantra to simply quiet the mind. You will also gain this benefit if you learn to repeat it hundreds of times, but it is important that you truly feel contrition for your sinfulness and seek God’s mercy as you repeat it. All prayer is about a personal relationship with God.


Many Eastern Christians use a prayer rope to aid them in concentration as they repeat the Jesus Prayer. Prayer Ropes come in a great variety of forms and sizes. Most prayer ropes have a cross woven into them or attached to mark the “end,” and also have some kind of marker after each 10, 25, or 50 knots or beads. There are many forms of prayer ropes, some knotted of wool or silk, or other more elegant or simpler materials. At the time of our regular prayer, when you pray following your rule of prayer, hold the prayer rope with your hand between the thumb and the index finger and move from knot to knot each time you say the prayer. Do this until the number of repetitions in your rule have been completed.
“Just as it is impossible to fight battles without weapons, or to swim a great sea with clothes on, or to live without breathing, so without humility and the constant prayer to Christ it is impossible to master the art of inward spiritual warfare or to set about it and pursue it skillfully.” Saint Hesychios

From the blog, Orthodox Way of Life, reprinted with permission

 

THE TOP 10 LENTEN TIPS

1. Regardless of how you fast, fast every single day. This type of fasting helps wear down the passions and build spiritual endurance.

2. Know exactly what the fasting regulations are and try to approximate them as best you can. Each Lent, try to be more strict yet humble.

3. Particular concerns about fasting? Age, health issues, never fasted before.

4. Be sure to recite the Lenten prayer of Saint Ephrem. If you cannot make prostrations just make bows or cross yourself.

5. On weekends, we do not make prostrations and our fasting is slightly relaxed.

6. The Lenten services and tones are offered only during the week – strive to participate as much as possible in these services and the spirit of lent will rub off on you.

7. Sports and outdoor activities are not contrary to the Lenten spirit.

8. Strive to avoid going to movies, parties, vacations, and other entertainments. This we do so we can have more time to devote to spiritual things.

9. Confession and Holy Communion are central to securing the benefits of Lent. Without fail, we should receive the Sacraments during the period of Great Lent.

10. Be mindful of what we look at and how much time we spend on TV and computer. Some give up TV for all of Lent. Others strictly limit their time and watch only educational and news programs. Surfing on the web? Hit the theological sites.