Early Christians came to understand that the name of Jesus had great power, and that the recitation of His name was itself a form of prayer.
Heeding St. Paul’s guidance to pray without ceasing, their ancient, short prayer became known as the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
In the Eastern churches especially, this prayer became most popular. It is silently recited over and over throughout the waking hours, usually in rhythm with breathing. This is why it is also known as the “prayer of the heart.”
It is a prayer rich in theological and spiritual meaning.
The words form the essence of the Christian faith in echoing Peter: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
This prayer also emulates the words of the repentant publican who Jesus describes in Luke’s Gospel: “Have mercy on me a sinner.”
The Church sets aside the first month of the year in honor of the Holy Name of Jesus—to remind us of the power of Christ's name and to encourage us to pray in His name. Why not make a New Year’s resolution for 2016 to always have the Jesus Prayer on your lips and in your heart?
Our prayer today: Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.