March 24th, 2013: The Sixth Sunday of Lent

March 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

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

On Sundays, this blog will take a “break” from the normal pattern of Scripture and reflection. This year, our Sunday focus will be the Jesus Prayer. I’d encourage you to consciously pray this prayer on Sundays, as often as you feel the need. In this space each week, we’ll discuss a different truth that the prayer teaches us. In previous weeks, we’ve discussed this prayer in light of the its different elements. We’ve looked at what it means to address Christ as “Lord” and as the “Son of God.”

We’ve discussed the request for mercy and our own status as sinners. When we tie this all together, we find a prayer that elevates Christ to his proper position in glory while recognizing our own broken existence. The prayer also challenges us to ask Christ for help with the full belief that he can and will come to our aid. This prayer brings us into line with God’s will to redeem his creation, and unites us with all who pray accordingly. Not bad for twelve words!

The Orthodox tradition believes that repetition of this prayer helps to seal it into one’s identity and living. Several exercises and tools  have been developed to help one meditate upon this prayer, such as prayer ropes, breathing exercises, and emphasizing different sections of the prayer for each repetition. As one employs these practices, the prayer becomes a greater part of his or her being and helps open doors to a changed life.

Many aids have been employed by those praying this prayer: Orthodox prayer ropes, breathing exercises, and emphasizing different words for each repetition, to name a few. Some may feel uncomfortable with some of these things, but that should not stop them from seeking out ways to combat distraction within times of prayer. Many find journals and controlled environments to be helpful, as well as dedicated times of day. However you pray, it’s always good to be intentional – with both how you pray and what you pray. The Jesus prayer is a wonderful “what to pray.” As we enter Holy Week, let’s think intentionally about “how to pray.”

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

 

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