Knowing about Jesus is Not the Same as Knowing Jesus
“Dear Mr. Wilson:
I am 51 years old and have attended church all of my life. I was baptized at 14, read large portions of the Bible, and heard more sermons than I can count. After reading last month’s Wake Up Report!, I learned that religious life is not a substitute for spiritual life. I now realize that I considered myself spiritually secure without actually knowing Jesus. I may know a lot about Jesus, but I am ashamed to admit that I really don’t know Him. So, what can I do now?
Thank you for your email. Whether you realize it or not, the Holy Spirit has led you into a profoundly important discovery: Knowing about Jesus is not the same as knowing Jesus. I have four suggestions that may help you to know Jesus in a personal way. Please consider the following:
Step 1. Ask for the Holy Spirit with Determination
“Then he said to them , ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.”
Then the one inside answers, “Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.” I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:5-13, insertions mine)
Even if a 10,000 watt broadcast antenna is 50 feet away, a radio cannot receive the signal unless it is turned on and tuned to the correct frequency. Similarly, Jesus could be standing in our presence (as He did among the Pharisees), yet we cannot know Him and love Him until the Holy Spirit has “turned us on and tuned us in.”
Millions of people are physically alive, but spiritually dead, and the interesting thing about this condition is that we cannot make ourselves spiritually alive through our own efforts! Without the Holy Spirit’s help, there are a million concepts within the Bible that we cannot see or understand. Paul wrote, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
If you want to know Jesus, go to your prayer closet and ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to you. The Holy Spirit will activate your spiritual receptors so that you can know Jesus.
Step 2. Stop the “Easy Sins”
For the sake of discussion, let us suppose there are three categories for sin: There are “easy sins,” “difficult sins,” and “accidental sins.” Sins that fall into the easy category are sins of carelessness, such as taking God’s name in name, swearing, lying, cheating, and dishonesty. (Overcoming them is not easy, but they are easy to identify.)
Sins that are in the difficult category are sins like hatred, jealousy, bitterness, sexual immorality, selfishness, and greed. Overcoming sins in this category requires significant time with the Lord. Accidental sins are unintentional sins which pop up without warning. These sins occur because we have a sinful nature and from time to time, it overpowers our best intentions.
When a person wants to know Jesus, he shows his desire to the Father by cleaning house. He begins with eliminating the things that he knows are offensive to God. A person should not expect God to listen to his prayers if he willfully lives in sin. (Psalm 66:18) Jesus cannot abide with a person who is negligent, lazy, or indifferent about the importance of sanctification. If you want to walk and talk with Jesus, you need to know that the road to Heaven is “uphill,” but worth the effort every step of the way!
Step 3. Be Willing to Let Go of the World
John wrote, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)
A carnally oriented person loves the world and everything in it! Only when we have a rebirth experience can we avoid loving all that is in the world. Our first birth is according to the flesh and it is attracted to the deeds of the flesh. If we are born a second time, we are born by the Spirit and we are attracted to the endeavors of the Holy Spirit.
A born again person sees life through a very different set of lenses. Paul indicates that everything is different. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
When we pester the Father to give us the Holy Spirit (as mentioned in Step 1), we must be ready for a life-changing experience. When the Holy Spirit dwells within a person, He brings with Him transforming power. The most powerful evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit is not prophesying, talking in tongues, or working miracles.
Instead, it is the obvious presence of the Holy Spirit that brings peace (a calming serenity) and love (replacing hostilities, contempt, and malice for others). The Holy Spirit also brings a strong desire for personal sanctification (not corporate sanctification*).
When the Holy Spirit arrives on our doorstep, the world and its enticements quickly dim and the things that we used to love, we will soon hate, and the things that we used to hate, we will soon love. It is the Holy Spirit’s duty to transform earthbound sinners into heaven-bound saints. This is important because earthbound sinners would not enjoy Heaven at all.
(*Note: When you come across people who are more concerned and frustrated with the religious behavior of others more than themselves, watch out. The Holy Spirit is not involved. Substituting religious ideology for personal sanctification is not a work of the Holy Spirit. However, there is one exception to this warning. People who the Lord appoints to speak corporately on these matters can do so with Holy Spirit approval.)
When a person receives the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13), he becomes a new creation and he cannot get enough of God’s Word. Suddenly, the Bible is no longer a giant reference book, but instead, it is God’s voice! A born again person is encouraged to see and love people as Jesus saw and loved people.
Every born again person receives a mission along with a new set of eyes. As he matures in the Lord, the mission unfolds. Through eyes of faith, he sees and understands the temporal nature of everything that exists on Earth. He also understands that no one can serve God and money.
A born-again person may not know where God is leading, but he knows God and wherever He leads will be fine. A born again person understands that using the name of the Lord is not the same as being called by the Lord! Compare these two passages:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ ” (Matthew 7:20,23)
“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’
Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:13-19)
Step 4. Spend Time with Jesus
It can be very difficult to consistently spend quite time with the Lord. This is a huge problem in today’s society because people are going crazy with busyness. If spending time with Jesus is not protected (in prayer and Bible study), the devil will quickly notice our developing habit and he will be sure that we will have no time for Jesus!
Every time I see those little solar lights lining a sidewalk, I am reminded of my need for Jesus. The solar light says, “No Sun means dead battery.” The Christian says, “One week without Bible study and prayer makes one weak.” There is no substitute for spending time with Jesus.
If reading the Bible is difficult, start with easier books like Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. If you take your eyes off Jesus for a week or two, your intimacy with Him will evaporate. You will be left knowing about Jesus instead of knowing Him. Jesus said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
Please try these four steps for six weeks and let me know the results:
Step 1. Ask for the Holy Spirit with Determination
Step 2. Stop the “Easy Sins”
Step 3. Be Willing to Let Go of the World
Step 4. Spend Time with Jesus
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Larry Wilson, founder of WUAS, became a “born again” Christian in 1972. His interest in the gospel has led him on a 40+ year quest to learn more about what God has revealed to Earth’s final generation. The results of his research have been shared all over the world in books, television & radio broadcasts, media interviews, and seminars that are publicly available on all different types of media (see our Christian Bookstore).
What is Wake Up America Seminars (WUAS)?
Wake Up America Seminars, Inc. is a nonprofit, nondenominational organization with a focus on the study of End-Time Prophecy. WUAS is not a church, nor does it endorse any denomination. Our focus is singular: We are dedicated to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and His imminent return. We are delighted that people of all faiths are diligently using the Bible study materials produced by WUAS. All study materials are based solely on the Bible alone.
The Jesus Prayer is a quick, easy and powerful prayer. Pray it anytime and anywhere. Use it as a prayer of repentance. Pray for the needs and desires of yourself and others. However, there are four prerequisites for results.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.(Wikipedia)
- You must believe in Jesus.
- The power comes from His Name.
- You must have faith in God.
- You must be determined to walk by faith.
Prayer for Mercy
In this article, you will learn some interesting facts about the Jesus Prayer and other prayers of mercy. In the Old Testament, Psalm 22 is a prayer for mercy. David wrote it 1,000 years before the birth of Jesus. The prayer contains Messianic prophecies about Jesus birth (Psalm 22:9) and Jesus Crucifixion (Psalms 22:12-18). Also, it references Jesus Resurrection and Jesus Second Coming. (Psalms 22:27-31).
In Christianity today, the “salvation prayer” or “Sinner’s prayer” can be used as a Jesus Prayer of mercy. It is a spontaneous prayer based on Christ teaching and principles. Evangelical Christians sometimes use it as a global witnessing tool.
Made from twelve words, the New Testament Jesus Prayer is at least 2,000 years old. It reads “ Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.”
- Blind Bartimaeus prayed the Jesus Prayer in Matthew 20: 29-34, Mark 10:46-52, and Luke 18:35-43.
- Two blind men prayed the Jesus Prayer in Matthew 9:27-31.
- The mother of a demon-possessed girl used it in Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:21-30.
- Ten lepers said it in (Luke 17:11-19).
However, according to some, the Jesus Prayer comes from Christ Teaching of the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18: 9-14).
The Jesus Prayer is known as the “Unceasing Prayer.” The Apostle Paul stated, “pray without ceasing,” in First Thessalonians 5:17. It was initially practiced by spiritual desert fathers in monastic communities. They were trying to find out what Paul meant by “praying without ceasing.” Dating back to the 4th -19th, they begin repeating the Jesus Prayer. It was a means of praying, repeatedly. The Jesus Prayer was also used to ward off temptation. There are three names and uses for the Jesus Prayer. Each prayer or stage can be used in separate settings.
Stage 1 of the Jesus Prayer is called “The Arrow Prayer.” It is a lip prayer. It has its origin in Eastern, Christian, Catholic and Orthodox Churches. It goes straight to the heart of God. It will not interrupt what you are doing. It is an urgent prayer or emergency prayer. Sometimes the name “Jesus” is all you need to say. Other names are missile or microwave prayers. Some call them dart, flash or hurry prayers.
Stage 2 of the Jesus Prayer is also called the “Mental Prayer.” The Fathers of the Early Christian Apostolic Church recommended it. Today, it is called “soaking prayer.” The mind is focused in this stage. There are no distractions. You are talking to God from your heart. Physically and spiritually, it is silent or secret prayer in a silent or secret place. It is time set aside to focus on or seek the face of God. It can be done with or without instrumental worship music.
Stage 3 of the Jesus Prayer is referred to as “The Prayer of the Heart.” It originates from the Early Eastern Orthodox and Apostolic Christian Church. It is deep prayer. Your goal is to pray from the heart. In this stage, the heart and mind become one with Christ. As a Holy Spirit-filled Christian, you can enter the Presence of God through spontaneous prayer. Guided by the Holy Spirit, you can pray in supernatural tongues. Repentance is a prerequisite in all stages.
Some android apps feature the Jesus Prayer. Masterpieces by artists, such as El Greco, use the theme to paint “Christ Healing the Blind Man.” Christian song artists write songs using the theme of the Jesus Prayer. Sermon videos are also centered around the theme.
Have you used this prayer? Share your experience with us, we’d love to hear about it! Visit us at KNCB.ORG for more information on Christian articles under the “gospel” tab. Watch Christian movies and Christian music videos or listen to Christian sermons. Thank You and God Bless!
©Vivian Caine – All Rights Reserved
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The Jesus Prayer, also called the Prayer of the Heart, the Prayer of a Single Thought, or simply The Prayer, is a short, simple prayer that has been widely used, taught and discussed throughout the history of Eastern Christianity. The exact words of the prayer have varied, from a simple form such as “Lord, have mercy” to an extended form:
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.”
The form most in use on Mount Athos is “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” It is particularly used in the practice of the spiritual life known as hesychasm.
It is, for the Orthodox, one of the most profound and mystical prayers and is often repeated endlessly as part of a personal ascetic practice. There have been a number of Roman Catholic texts on the subject, but its usage has never achieved the same degree of devotion as in the Eastern Church. A more elaborate version known to some Roman Catholics by the same name goes: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Your mercy.”
The prayer is most reflective of the lesson taught by the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee; in which the Pharisee demonstrates the improper way to pray by exclaiming, “Thank you Lord that I am not like the Publican.” While the Publican in humility prays correctly “Lord have mercy on me, the sinner” (Luke 18:10-14). And likewise in the Gospels, Peter crying out as he sank into the sea, “Lord, save me.”
In the Orthodox tradition the prayer is said or prayed repeatedly, often with the aid of a prayer rope. It may be accompanied by prostrations and the sign of the cross. As such, it is used as a means of finding contrition and as a means of bringing about humility in the individual; hence the words “the sinner” are sometimes added as if no other sinner existed but the person praying (though there is no indefinite article in Greek, thus leading to some controversy about whether the translation in English should be “the sinner” or “a sinner”).
Monastics often have long sessions praying this prayer many hundreds of times each night as part of their discipline, and through the guidance of an elder, its practitioner’s ultimate goal is to “internalize” the prayer, so that one is praying unceasingly there-by accomplishing Saint Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). The use of the Jesus Prayer in this way is the subject of the Russian classic The Way of a Pilgrim. For many, after a time, the Jesus Prayer enters into the heart, so that it is no longer recited by a deliberate effort, but recites itself spontaneously.
- Prayer rope
- The Jesus Prayer, a very straightforward exposition
- On Practicing the Jesus Prayer by St. Ignatius Brianchaninov
- Saying the Jesus Prayer by Albert Rossi
- More articles on the Jesus prayer – Fr. Thomas Hopko, Steven Peter Tsichlis, Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh, and Father Kevin Hunt, OCSO
- Introduction to the Jesus Prayer by Mother Alexandra
- How to pray the Jesus Prayer and many articles and links
- The Jesus Prayer Resource Library, Orthodox Christian library that provides access to selected resources about the Jesus Prayer
A Greek prayer rope or komboskini, used for chanting the Jesus Prayer. Prayer ropes such as this may have been early ancestors of the Catholic Rosary.
How to Say the Jesus Prayer
The Jesus Prayer can be recited in full, or in various abbreviated versions. The full version, in English, is:
|Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
Personally, I like to chant this prayer in Greek because the Jesus Prayer came to us through the Greek New Testament. In accordance with the inflections of Greek grammar, the wording differs slightly, if said by a man or woman. Here is the Jesus Prayer in Greek:
In the Latin alphabet, we would spell these prayers as follows:
|Kyrie Iesou Christe, Yie tou Theou, Eleison me ton amartolon.|
|Kyrie Iesou Christe, Yie tou Theou, Eleison me tin amartolon.|
We would pronounce them something like this:
|KEE-ree-ay ee-SOO khree-STAY, YAY too thay-OO, eh-lay-ee-SOHN meh TOHN ah-mar-toh-LOHN|
|KEE-ree-ay ee-SOO khree-STAY, YAY too thay-OO, eh-lay-ee-SOHN meh TEEN ah-mar-toh-LOHN|
“The Rosary belongs among the finest and most praiseworthy traditions of Christian contemplation. Developed in the West, it is a typically meditative prayer, corresponding in some way to the ‘prayer of the heart’ or ‘Jesus prayer’ which took root in the soil of the Christian East.”
Pope John Paul II, “Rosarium Virginis Mariae“, October 16, 2002
History of the Prayer
Early Christians in the East adapted the Jesus Prayer from a passage in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, which Jesus told in Luke 18:9-14. The parable appears below in Greek and English, with the pertinent words shown in red.
| 9 Εἶπεν δὲ καὶ πρός τινας τοὺς πεποιθότας ἐφ’ ἑαυτοῖς ὅτι εἰσὶν δίκαιοι καὶ ἐξουθενοῦντας τοὺς λοιποὺς τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην·
10 ἄνθρωποι δύο ἀνέβησαν εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν προσεύξασθαι εἷς Φαρισαῖος καὶ ὁ ἕτερος τελώνης.
11 ὁ Φαρισαῖος σταθεὶς (ταῦτα) πρὸς ἑαυτὸν προσηύχετο· ὁ θεός, εὐχαριστῶ σοι ὅτι οὐκ εἰμὶ ὥσπερ οἱ λοιποὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ἅρπαγες, ἄδικοι, μοιχοί, ἢ καὶ ὡς οὗτος ὁ τελώνης·
12 νηστεύω δὶς τοῦ σαββάτου, ἀποδεκατεύω / ἀποδεκατῶ πάντα ὅσα κτῶμαι.
13 ὁ δὲ τελώνης μακρόθεν ἑστὼς οὐκ ἤθελεν οὐδὲ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἐπᾶραι εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν, ἀλλ’ ἔτυπτεν τὸ στῆθος ἑαυτοῦ / αὐτοῦ λέγων· ὁ θεός ἱλάσθητί μοι τῷ ἁμαρτωλῷ.
14 λέγω ὑμῖν, κατέβη οὗτος δεδικαιωμένος εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ παρ’ ἐκεῖνον· ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ὑψῶν ἑαυτὸν ταπεινωθήσεται, ὁ δὲ ταπεινῶν ἑαυτὸν ὑψωθήσεται.
ΚΑΤΑ ΛΟΥΚΑΝ 18:9-14
| And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
(Luke 18: 9-14)
Through this parable, Jesus illustrates the proper way to approach God in prayer. The Pharisee prays badly, congratulating himself on his righteousness. The Publican, on the other hand, begs God for mercy, knowing himself to be a sinner. Jesus commends the prayer of the Publican, who cries, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” (as translated in the NIV or New International Version of the Bible). These words became the basis of the Jesus Prayer.
Pray Without Ceasing
In obedience to St. Paul’s instruction to “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17), the early Christian monks of Egypt used to chant verses from Scripture, repeating them over and over again, as a form of meditation. The Jesus Prayer probably grew out of this practice.
In time, the monks and hermits of Eastern Christendom developed the habit of reciting specific numbers of Jesus Prayers (such as 33 or 100). They would keep track of these prayers by counting off knots on a woolen cord. Some scholars believe that these primitive “prayer ropes” were early ancestors of the Latin Rosary.
Tradition holds that St. Pachomios the Great (circa 292-346 AD) — a monk living in the Egyptian desert — made the first “prayer rope“, inspired by a dream.
To this day, Greek Orthodox monks still recite the Jesus Prayer on a knotted prayer rope which they call the Komboskini (Κομποσκοίνι).
Greek worshippers often use abbreviated forms of the Jesus Prayer, such as, “Lord have mercy” (Kyrie eleison). This version of the Jesus Prayer found its way into the Catholic liturgy, in the form of the so-called Kyrie. In the traditional Catholic Mass, the Kyrie is sung in this manner:
In memory of its origin in the Greek-speaking east, the Kyrie is the only part of the traditional Catholic Mass prayed in Greek rather than Latin. To hear the Kyrie sung in Gregorian chant, play the video below:
The Russian Jesus Prayer – Иисycoва молитва
Sung by the sisters of St. Elizabeth Monastery, Belorussia
Поют сестры монастыря Св. Елизаветы. Белорусия
Господи Иисусе Христе, Сыне Божий, помилуй мя грешнаго (грешную for a woman).
Адонай ЯХВЕ, помилуй мя грешнаго (грешную for a woman).
(Адонай ЯХВЕ = Adonai Yahweh)
“St. Pachomius“, The Catholic Encyclopedia
“Pachomius“, wikipedia.org, retrieved September 9, 2007
“Prayer Rope“, wikipedia.org, retrieved September 9, 2007
“Kyrie“, wikipedia.org, retrieved September 9, 2007
“Hesychasm“, wikipedia.org, retrieved September 9, 2007
“Jesus Prayer“, wikipedia.org, retrieved September 9, 2007
Prayer of the HeartThe Jesus PrayerJesus Prayer – Prayer of the Heart