Prayers of jesus

In addition to The Lord’s Prayer the gospel writers – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – have recorded in the bible other prayers that Jesus said. Looking at these prayers, we can learn much to enhance our own prayer life..The quotations on this page are taken from the New Revised Standard Version of The Bible.

Prayer of praise that everyone can know God.

“At that time Jesus said. ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”Matthew 11:25-26, Luke 10:21.

In this prayer of Jesus the Lord gives thanks that all people, not just the elite, can know God and become part of the Christian family. All people can share Jesus’ close relationship with his Father, because God likes it that way – it is God’s initiative.

Jesus prays before raising Lazarus.

“So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.'”John 11:41-42.

Jesus prays that the gathered crowd, on seeing Lazarus return from the grave, will have faith in him and know that he is from God.

Jesus prays that God’s name will be glorified.

“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say, ‘Father save me from this hour’? No it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”John 12:27-28.

Here, as in the prayers of Jesus in Gethsemane recorded in the other gospels, Jesus reveals his anguish about what is to happen – his death. He could pray to be saved or he could pray for God’s will to be accomplished. Jesus chooses the second option, and makes his prayer that God will be glorified by the success of his mission.

A chapter of prayer by Jesus.

Chapter 17 of John’s gospel is the longest prayer of Jesus recorded in any of the gospels. In truth, this chapter is likely to be an amalgamation of many prayers and saying of Jesus gathered together into one place by the gospel writer. In this chapter Jesus consecrates himself to the task that lies ahead, not for his sake, but for ours. This prayer of Jesus brings us to a closer understanding of the mind of Jesus, his relationship with God, and his selfless love of those, like us, in his care.

Jesus’ prayers in Gethsemane.

“He said, ‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.”Matthew 26:36-44, Mark 14:32-39, Luke 22:46.

After Jesus had shared his last supper with his disciples, the teacher and his closest followers retire to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prays whilst his companions sleep. In this prayer of Jesus’ we have a glimpse of the intimacy and trust Jesus shares with God, his Father. Jesus, in great distress knowing what he is to suffer the following day, pleads with God that there might be some other way. And yet, Jesus’ determination to do God’s will is not broken as Jesus resign’s himself, in complete obedience, to follow his father’s plans.

Jesus prays on the cross.

“At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34, Luke 23:34,46.

Jesus, at the most poignant moment in Christian history, recognises the significance of his imminent death with a cry of utter desolation. Jesus, the Christ, the son of God, is abandoned (if only for a short time) and in this one act the whole of humanity is offered a fesh start – a new relationship with God.

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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.

See also

  • Hesychasm
  • Monasticism
  • Prayer rope

External links

  • Hesychasm
  • 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

with the Jesus Prayer in



Doamne Iisuse Hristoase, Fiul lui Dumnezeu, miluieşte-mă pe mine păcătosul (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner”)

The Jesus Prayer (or The Prayer) is a short formulaic prayer esteemed and advocated especially within the Eastern churches: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” The prayer has been widely taught and discussed throughout the history of the Orthodox Church. The ancient and original form did not include the words, “a sinner”, which were added later. It is often repeated continually as a part of personal ascetic practice, its use being an integral part of the eremitic tradition of prayer known as Hesychasm. The prayer is particularly esteemed by the spiritual fathers of this tradition (see Philokalia) as a method of opening up the heart (kardia) and bringing about the Prayer of the Heart (Καρδιακή Προσευχή). The Prayer of The Heart is considered to be the Unceasing Prayer that the apostle Paul advocates in the New Testament.Theophan the Recluse regarded the Jesus Prayer stronger than all other prayers by virtue of the power of the Holy Name of Jesus.

While its tradition, on historical grounds, also belongs to the Eastern Catholics, and there have been a number of Latin Catholic texts on the Jesus Prayer, its practice has never achieved the same popularity in the Latin Church as in the Eastern Orthodox Church, although it can be said on the Anglican rosary. As distinct from the prayer itself, the Eastern Orthodox theology of the Jesus Prayer enunciated in the 14th century by Gregory Palamas was generally rejected by Latin Catholic theologians until the 20th century, but Pope John Paul II called Gregory Palamas a saint, cited him as a great writer, and an authority on theology and spoke with appreciation of Palamas’s intent “to emphasize the concrete possibility that man is given to unite himself with the Triune God in the intimacy of his heart”. In the Jesus Prayer can be seen the Eastern counterpart of the rosary, which has developed to hold a similar place in the Christian West.


The prayer’s origin is most likely the Egyptian desert, which was settled by the monastic Desert Fathers and Desert Mothers in the 5th century.

A formula similar to the standard form of the Jesus Prayer is found in a letter attributed to John Chrysostom, who died in AD 407. This “Letter to an Abbot” speaks of “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy” and “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on us” being used as ceaseless prayer. However, some consider this letter dubious or spurious and attribute it to an unknown writer of unknown date.

What may be the earliest explicit reference to the Jesus Prayer in a form that is similar to that used today is in Discourse on Abba Philimon from the Philokalia. Philimon lived around AD 600. The version cited by Philimon is, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me,” which is apparently the earliest source to cite this standard version. While the prayer itself was in use by that time, John S. Romanides writes that “We are still searching the Fathers for the term ‘Jesus prayer.'”

A similar idea is recommended in the Ladder of Divine Ascent of John Climacus (circa 523–606), who recommends the regular practice of a monologistos, or one-worded “Jesus Prayer”. The use of the Jesus Prayer according to the tradition of the Philokalia is the subject of the 19th century anonymous Russian spiritual classic The Way of a Pilgrim, also in the original form, without the addition of the words “a sinner”.

Though the Jesus Prayer has been practiced through the centuries as part of the Eastern tradition, in the 20th century, it also began to be used in some Western churches, including some Latin Catholic and Anglican churches.


The hesychastic practice of the Jesus Prayer is founded on the biblical view by which God’s name is conceived as the place of his presence. Orthodox mysticism has no images or representations. The mystical practice (the prayer and the meditation) doesn’t lead to perceiving representations of God (see below Palamism). Thus, the most important means of a life consecrated to praying is the invoked name of God, as it is emphasized since the 5th century by the Thebaid anchorites, or by the later Athonite hesychasts. For the Orthodox the power of the Jesus Prayer comes not only from its content, but from the very invocation of Jesus name.

Scriptural roots

Theologically, the Jesus Prayer is considered to be the response of the Holy Tradition to 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”, whereas the Publican prays correctly in humility, saying “Lord have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:10-14).

Palamism, the underlying theology

The essence–energies distinction, a central principle in Orthodox theology, was first formulated by Gregory of Nyssa and developed by Gregory Palamas in the 14th century in support of the mystical practices of Hesychasm and against Barlaam of Seminara. It stands that God’s essence (Ancient Greek: Οὐσία, ousia) is distinct from God’s energies, or manifestations in the world, by which men can experience the Divine. The energies are “unbegotten” or “uncreated”. They were revealed in various episodes of the Bible: the burning bush seen by Moses, the Light on Mount Tabor at the Transfiguration.

Apophatism (negative theology) is the main characteristic of the Eastern theological tradition. Incognoscibility is not conceived as agnosticism or refusal to know God, because the Eastern theology is not concerned with abstract concepts; it is contemplative, with a discourse on things above rational understanding. Therefore, dogmas are often expressed antinomically. This form of contemplation, is experience of God, illumination called the Vision of God or in Greek theoria.

For the Eastern Orthodox the knowledge or noesis of the uncreated energies is usually linked to apophatism.

Repentance in Eastern Orthodoxy

The Eastern Orthodox Church holds a non-juridical view of sin, by contrast to the satisfaction view of atonement for sin as articulated in the West, firstly by Anselm of Canterbury (as debt of honor)) and Thomas Aquinas (as a moral debt). The terms used in the East are less legalistic (grace, punishment), and more medical (sickness, healing) with less exacting precision. Sin, therefore, does not carry with it the guilt for breaking a rule, but rather the impetus to become something more than what men usually are. One repents not because one is or isn’t virtuous, but because human nature can change. Repentance (Ancient Greek: μετάνοια, metanoia, “changing one’s mind”) isn’t remorse, justification, or punishment, but a continual enactment of one’s freedom, deriving from renewed choice and leading to restoration (the return to man’s original state). This is reflected in the Mystery of Confession for which, not being limited to a mere confession of sins and presupposing recommendations or penalties, it is primarily that the priest acts in his capacity of spiritual father. The Mystery of Confession is linked to the spiritual development of the individual, and relates to the practice of choosing an elder to trust as his or her spiritual guide, turning to him for advice on the personal spiritual development, confessing sins, and asking advice.

As stated at the local Council of Constantinople in 1157, Christ brought his redemptive sacrifice not to the Father alone, but to the Trinity as a whole. In the Eastern Orthodox theology redemption isn’t seen as ransom. It is the reconciliation of God with man, the manifestation of God’s love for humanity. Thus, it is not the anger of God the Father but His love that lies behind the sacrificial death of his son on the cross.

The redemption of man is not considered to have taken place only in the past, but continues to this day through theosis. The initiative belongs to God, but presupposes man’s active acceptance (not an action only, but an attitude), which is a way of perpetually receiving God.

Distinctiveness from analogues in other religions

The practice of contemplative or meditative chanting is known in several religions including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam (e.g. japa, zikr). The form of internal contemplation involving profound inner transformations affecting all the levels of the self is common to the traditions that posit the ontological value of personhood. The history of these practices, including their possible spread from one religion to another, is not well understood. Such parallels (like between unusual psycho-spiritual experiences, breathing practices, postures, spiritual guidances of elders, peril warnings) might easily have arisen independently of one another, and in any case must be considered within their particular religious frameworks.

Although some aspects of the Jesus Prayer may resemble some aspects of other traditions, its Christian character is central rather than mere “local color”. The aim of the Christian practicing it is not limited to attaining humility, love, or purification of sinful thoughts, but rather it is becoming holy and seeking union with God (theosis), which subsumes all the aforementioned virtues. Thus, for the Eastern Orthodox:

  • The Jesus Prayer is, first of all, a prayer addressed to God. It’s not a means of self-deifying or self-deliverance, but a counterexample to Adam’s pride, repairing the breach it produced between man and God.
  • The aim is not to be dissolved or absorbed into nothingness or into God, or reach another state of mind, but to (re)unite with God (which by itself is a process) while remaining a distinct person.
  • It is an invocation of Jesus’ name, because Christian anthropology and soteriology are strongly linked to Christology in Orthodox monasticism.
  • In a modern context the continuing repetition is regarded by some as a form of meditation, the prayer functioning as a kind of mantra. However, Orthodox users of the Jesus Prayer emphasize the invocation of the name of Jesus Christ that Hesychios describes in Pros Theodoulon which would be contemplation on the Triune God rather than simply emptying the mind.
  • Acknowledging “a sinner” is to lead firstly to a state of humbleness and repentance, recognizing one’s own sinfulness.
  • Practicing the Jesus Prayer is strongly linked to mastering passions of both soul and body, e.g. by fasting. For the Eastern Orthodox not the body is wicked, but “the bodily way of thinking” is; therefore salvation also regards the body.
  • Unlike “seed syllables” in particular traditions of chanting mantras, the Jesus Prayer may be translated into whatever language the pray-er customarily uses. The emphasis is on the meaning, not on the mere utterance of certain sounds.
  • There is no emphasis on the psychosomatic techniques, which are merely seen as helpers for uniting the mind with the heart, not as prerequisites.

A magistral way of meeting God for the Orthodox, the Jesus Prayer does not harbor any secrets in itself, nor does its practice reveal any esoteric truths. Instead, as a hesychastic practice, it demands setting the mind apart from rational activities and ignoring the physical senses for the experiential knowledge of God. It stands along with the regular expected actions of the believer (prayer, almsgiving, repentance, fasting etc.) as the response of the Orthodox Tradition to Paul the Apostle’s challenge to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17). It is also linked to the Song of Solomon’s passage from the Old Testament: “I sleep, but my heart is awake” (Song of Solomon 5:2). The analogy being that as a lover is always conscious to his or her beloved, people can also achieve a state of “constant prayer” where they are always conscious of God’s presence in their lives.


The practice of the Jesus Prayer is integrated into the mental ascesis undertaken by the Orthodox monastic in the practice of hesychasm. Yet the Jesus Prayer is not limited only to monastic life or to clergy. Anyone may practice this prayer, laypeople and clergy, men, women and children.

In the Eastern tradition the prayer is said or prayed repeatedly, often with the aid of a prayer rope (Russian: chotki; Greek: komvoskini), which is a cord, usually woolen, tied with many knots. The person saying the prayer says one repetition for each knot. It may be accompanied by prostrations and the sign of the cross, signaled by beads strung along the prayer rope at intervals. The prayer rope is “a tool of prayer” and an aid to beginners or those who face difficulties practicing the Prayer.

The Jesus Prayer may be practiced under the guidance and supervision of a spiritual guide (pneumatikos, πνευματικός), and or Starets, especially when psychosomatic techniques (like rhythmical breath) are incorporated. A person that acts as a spiritual “father” and advisor may be an official certified by the Church Confessor (Pneumatikos Exolmologitis) or sometimes a spiritually experienced monk (called in Greek Gerontas (Elder) or in Russian Starets). It is possible for that person to be a layperson, usually a “practical theologician” (i.e. a person well versed in Orthodox theology but without official credentials, certificates, diplomas etc.).


There are no fixed rules for those who pray, “the way there is no mechanical, physical or mental technique which can force God to show his presence” (Metropolitan Kallistos Ware).

In The Way of a Pilgrim, the pilgrim advises, “as you draw your breath in, say, or imagine yourself saying, ‘Lord Jesus Christ,’ and as you breathe again, ‘have mercy on me.'” Another option is to say (orally or mentally) the whole prayer while breathing in and again the whole prayer while breathing out and yet another, to breathe in recite the whole prayer, breathe out while reciting the whole prayer again. One can also hold the breath for a few seconds between breathing in and out.

Monks may pray this prayer many hundreds of times each night as part of their private cell vigil (“cell rule”). Under the guidance of an Elder (Russian Starets; Greek Gerondas), the monk aims to internalize the prayer, so that he is praying unceasingly. Diadochos of Photiki refers in On Spiritual Knowledge and Discrimination to the automatic repetition of the Jesus Prayer, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, even in sleep. This state is regarded as the accomplishment of Paul the Apostle’s exhortation to the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

The Jesus Prayer can be used for a kind of “psychological” self-analysis. According to the Way of the Pilgrim account and Mount Athos practitioners of the Jesus Prayer, “one can have some insight on his or her current psychological situation by observing the intonation of the words of the prayer, as they are recited. Which word is stressed most. This self-analysis could reveal to the praying person things about their inner state and feelings, maybe not yet realised, of their unconsciousness.”

“While praying the Jesus Prayer, one might notice that sometimes the word ‘Lord’ is pronounced louder, more stressed, than the others, like: Lord Jesus Christ, (Son of God), have mercy on me, (a/the sinner). In this case, they say, it means that our inner self is currently more aware of the fact that Jesus is the Lord, maybe because we need reassurance that he is in control of everything (and our lives too). Other times, the stressed word is ‘Jesus’: Lord Jesus Christ, (Son of God), have mercy on me, (a/the sinner). In that case, they say, we feel the need to personally appeal more to his human nature, the one that is more likely to understands our human problems and shortcomings, maybe because we are going through tough personal situations. Likewise if the word ‘Christ’ is stressed it could be that we need to appeal to Jesus as Messiah and Mediator, between humans and God the Father, and so on. When the word ‘Son’ is stressed maybe we recognise more Jesus’ relationship with the Father. If ‘of God’ is stressed then we could realise more Jesus’ unity with the Father. A stressed ‘have mercy on me’ shows a specific, or urgent, need for mercy. A stressed ‘a sinner’ (or ‘the sinner’) could mean that there is a particular current realisation of the sinful human nature or a particular need for forgiveness.

“In order to do this kind of self-analysis one should better start reciting the prayer relaxed and naturally for a few minutes – so the observation won’t be consciously ‘forced’, and then to start paying attention to the intonation as described above.

Also, a person might want to consciously stress one of the words of the prayer in particular when one wants to express a conscious feeling of situation. So in times of need stressing the ‘have mercy’ part can be more comforting or more appropriate. In times of failures, the ‘a sinner’ part, etc….).”

Levels of the prayer

Paul Evdokimov, a 20th-century Russian philosopher and theologian, writes about beginner’s way of praying: initially, the prayer is excited because the man is emotive and a flow of psychic contents is expressed. In his view this condition comes, for the modern men, from the separation of the mind from the heart: “The prattle spreads the soul, while the silence is drawing it together.” Old fathers condemned elaborate phraseologies, for one word was enough for the publican, and one word saved the thief on the cross. They only uttered Jesus’ name by which they were contemplating God. For Evdokimov the acting faith denies any formalism which quickly installs in the external prayer or in the life duties; he quotes Seraphim of Sarov: “The prayer is not thorough if the man is self-conscious and he is aware he’s praying.”

“Because the prayer is a living reality, a deeply personal encounter with the living God, it is not to be confined to any given classification or rigid analysis” an on-line catechism reads. As general guidelines for the practitioner, different number of levels (3, 7 or 9) in the practice of the prayer are distinguished by Orthodox fathers. They are to be seen as being purely informative, because the practice of the Prayer of the Heart is learned under personal spiritual guidance in Eastern Orthodoxy which emphasizes the perils of temptations when it’s done by one’s own. Thus, Theophan the Recluse, a 19th-century Russian spiritual writer, talks about three stages:

  1. The oral prayer (the prayer of the lips) is a simple recitation, still external to the practitioner.
  2. The focused prayer, when “the mind is focused upon the words” of the prayer, “speaking them as if they were our own.”
  3. The prayer of the heart itself, when the prayer is no longer something we do but who we are.

Once this is achieved the Jesus Prayer is said to become “self-active” (αυτενεργούμενη). It is repeated automatically and unconsciously by the mind, having a Tetris Effect, like a (beneficial) Earworm. Body, through the uttering of the prayer, mind, through the mental repetition of the prayer, are thus unified with “the heart” (spirit) and the prayer becomes constant, ceaselessly “playing” in the background of the mind, like a background music, without hindering the normal everyday activities of the person.

Others, like Father Archimandrite Ilie Cleopa, one of the most representative spiritual fathers of contemporary Romanian Orthodox monastic spirituality, talk about nine levels (see External links). They are the same path to theosis, more slenderly differentiated:

  1. The prayer of the lips.
  2. The prayer of the mouth.
  3. The prayer of the tongue.
  4. The prayer of the voice.
  5. The prayer of the mind.
  6. The prayer of the heart.
  7. The active prayer.
  8. The all-seeing prayer.
  9. The contemplative prayer.

In its more advanced use, the monk aims to attain to a sober practice of the Jesus Prayer in the heart free of images. It is from this condition, called by John Climacus and Hesychios the “guard of the mind”, that the monk is raised by the divine grace to contemplation.

Variants of repetitive formulas

A number of different repetitive prayer formulas have been attested in the history of Eastern Orthodox monasticism: the Prayer of St. Ioannikios the Great (754–846): “My hope is the Father, my refuge is the Son, my shelter is the Holy Ghost, O Holy Trinity, Glory unto You,” the repetitive use of which is described in his Life; or the more recent practice of Nikolaj Velimirović.

Similarly to the flexibility of the practice of the Jesus Prayer, there is no imposed standardization of its form. The prayer can be from as short as “Lord, have mercy” (Kyrie eleison), “Have mercy on me” (“Have mercy upon us”), or even “Jesus”, to its longer most common form. It can also contain a call to the Theotokos (Virgin Mary), or to the saints. The single essential and invariable element is Jesus’ name.

  • Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. (a very common form) (Sometimes “τον αμαρτωλόν” is translated “a sinner” but in Greek the article “τον” is a definite article, so it could be translated “the sinner”.)
  • Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me. (a very common form in the Greek tradition)
  • Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me. (common variant on Mount Athos)
  • Jesus, have mercy.
  • Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us.
  • Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

In art

The Jesus Prayer is a core part of the plot in J. D. Salinger’s pair of stories Franny and Zooey. Its use in that book is itself referenced in Jeffrey Eugenides’s novel, The Marriage Plot. The prayer is also a central theme of the 2006 Russian film Ostrov.

Catholic Church

Part four of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is dedicated to Christian prayer, devotes paragraphs 2665 to 2669 to prayer to Jesus.

To pray “Jesus” is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him. This simple invocation of faith developed in the tradition of prayer under many forms in East and West. The most usual formulation, transmitted by the spiritual writers of the Sinai, Syria, and Mt. Athos, is the invocation, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners.” It combines the Christological hymn of Philippians 2:6-11 with the cry of the publican and the blind men begging for light. By it the heart is opened to human wretchedness and the Savior’s mercy. The invocation of the holy name of Jesus is the simplest way of praying always. When the holy name is repeated often by a humbly attentive heart, the prayer is not lost by heaping up empty phrases, but holds fast to the word and “brings forth fruit with patience.” This prayer is possible “at all times” because it is not one occupation among others but the only occupation: that of loving God, which animates and transfigures every action in Christ Jesus.

In his poem The Book of the Twelve Béguines, John of Ruysbroeck, a 14th-century Flemish mystic beatified by Pope Pius X in 1908, wrote of “the uncreated Light, which is not God, but is the intermediary between Him and the ‘seeing thought'” as illuminating the contemplative not in the highest mode of contemplation, but in the second of the four ascending modes.

Similar methods of prayer in use in the Roman Catholic Church are recitation, as recommended by John Cassian, of “O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me” or other verses of Scripture; repetition of a single monosyllabic word, as suggested by the Cloud of Unknowing; the method used in Centering Prayer; the method used by The World Community for Christian Meditation, based on the Aramaic invocation Maranatha; the use of Lectio Divina; etc.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

The name of Jesus is at the heart of Christian prayer. All liturgical prayers conclude with the words “through our Lord Jesus Christ”. The Hail Mary reaches its high point in the words “blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus”. The Eastern prayer of the heart, the Jesus Prayer, says: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Many Christians, such as Joan of Arc, have died with the one word “Jesus” on their lips.

Use by other Christians

In addition to Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, many Christians of other traditions also use the Jesus Prayer, primarily as a centering prayer or for contemplative prayer. The prayer is sometimes used with the Anglican rosary. The structure and content of the Jesus Prayer also bears a resemblance to the “Sinner’s Prayer” used by many evangelical Protestants.

Other languages

  • Amharic: እግዚኦ መሐረነ ክርስቶስ
  • Arabic: يا رب يسوع المسيح ابن الله ارحمني أنا الخاطئ‎
    • Ya Rabbi Yasou’a al-Maseeh ibn Allah, arhamni ana al-khati. (al-khatia, if female) (Arabic transliterated)
  • Georgian: უფალო იესუ ქრისტე, ძეო ღმრთისაო, შემიწყალე მე ცოდვილი.
  • Armenian: Հիսուս Քրիստոս, Որդի Աստուծո, ողորմիր ինձ՝ մեղավորիս.
  • Bulgarian: Господи Иисусе Христе, Сине Божий, смили се над мене, грешния/грешната.
  • Chinese: 主耶穌基督,上帝之子,憐憫我罪人。
  • Church Slavonic: Господи Іисусе Христе Сыне Божїй помилѹй мѧ грѣшнаго/грѣшнѹю.
  • Croatian: Gospodine Isuse Kriste, Sine Boga Živoga, smiluj se meni grešniku.
  • Esperanto: Sinjoro Jesuo Kristo, Difilo, kompatu min pekulon.
  • Finnish: Herra Jeesus Kristus, Jumalan Poika, armahda minua syntistä.
  • French: Seigneur Jésus Christ, Fils de Dieu, aie pitié de moi pécheur.
  • German: Herr Jesus Christus, Sohn Gottes, erbarme dich meiner (hab Erbarmen mit mir Sünder).
  • Greek: Κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, Υἱὲ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐλέησόν με τὸν ἁμαρτωλόν.
  • Hungarian: Uram, Jézus Krisztus, Isten fia, könyörülj rajtam, bűnösön.
  • Indonesian: Tuhan Yesus Kristus, Putra Allah, kasihanilah aku, orang berdosa.
  • Italian: Signore Gesù Cristo, Figlio di Dio, abbi compassione di me peccatore.
  • Japanese: 主イイスス・ハリストス、神の子よ、我、罪人を憐れみ給え。
  • Gikuyu: Mwathani Jesu Kristo, Mwana wa Ngai, njiguire tha.
  • Kiswahili: Bwana Yesu Kristo, Mwana wa Mungu, unihurumie mimi mtenda dhambi.
  • Korean: 주 예수 그리스도, 하느님의 아들이시여, 이 죄인을 불쌍히 여기소서.
  • Latin: Domine Iesu Christe, Fili Dei, miserere mei, peccatoris .}}
    • Rendered in Catechism as “Iesu, Christe, Fili Dei, Domine, miserere nobis, peccatoribus.
  • Malayalam: കർത്താവായ യേശുക്രിസ്തുവേ, ദൈവപുത്രാ, പാപിയായ എന്റെ മേൽ കരുണയുണ്ടാകണമേ.
  • Malay: Tuhan Yesus Kristus, Putera Allah, kasihanilah aku, seorang pendosa.
  • Maltese: Mulej Ġesù Kristu, bin Alla, ħenn għalija l-midneb/midinba.
  • Romanian: Doamne Iisuse Hristoase, Fiul lui Dumnezeu, miluiește-mă pe mine, păcătosul.
  • Russian: Господи, Иисусе Христе, Сыне Божий, помилуй мя грешного/грешную.
  • Serbian: Господе, Исусе Христе, Сине Божији, помилуј ме грешног/грешну.
  • Spanish: Señor Jesucristo, Hijo de Dios, ten misericordia de mí, pecador.
  • Tagalog: Panginoong Hesukristo, anak ng Diyos, kaawan mo akong makasalanan.
  • Thai: ข้าแต่พระเยซูคริสต์ พระบุตรพระเจ้า โปรดทรงพระเมตตาลูก ผู้เป็นคนบาป เถิดพระเจ้าข้า.
  • Ukrainian: Господи Ісусе Христе, Сину Божий, помилуй мене грішного.
  • Zulu: Nkosi Jesu Kristu, iNdodana kaNkulunkulu, ngihawukele mina, isoni.

See also

  • Cardiognosis
  • Catholic prayers to Jesus
  • Fatima Prayer
  • High Priestly Prayer
  • Imiaslavie
  • Mystic prayer
  • Poustinia
  • Prayer beads
  • Prayer in Christianity
  • Sacred heart
  • Tabor Light


  1. ^ Greek: Η Προσευχή του Ιησού, i prosefchi tou iisou; Syriac: ܨܠܘܬܐ ܕܝܫܘܥ‎; Amharic, Geez and Tigrinya: እግዚኦ መሐረነ ክርስቶስ, Slotho d-Yeshu’ .
  2. ^ Greek: Η Ευχή, I Efchi – literally “The Wish”.
  3. ^ Ancient Greek: ἡσυχάζω, isycházo, “to keep stillness”.
  4. ^ Unite if referring to one person; reunite if talking at an anthropological level.


  1. ^ a b c “Jesus Prayer”. OrthodoxWiki. 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  2. ^ a b On the Prayer of Jesus by Ignatius Brianchaninov, Kallistos Ware 2006 ISBN 1-59030-278-8 pages xxiii–xxiv
  3. ^ a b Frederica Mathewes-Green (2009). The Jesus Prayer: The Ancient Desert Prayer that Tunes the Heart to God. Paraclete Press. p. 76–. ISBN 978-1-55725-659-1. 
  4. ^ “Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2667”. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  5. ^ See also Rosaries in other Christian traditions.
  6. ^ (Pope John Paul II, Homily at Ephesus, 30 November 1979
  7. ^ Pope John Paul II, General Audience, 12 November 1997
  8. ^ Pope John Paul II, General Audience, 14 November 1990
  9. ^ Pope John Paul II, General Audience, 19 November 1997
  10. ^ Pope John Paul II, Jubilee of Scientists
  11. ^ Pope John Paul II’s Angelus Message, 11 August 1996.
  12. ^ Rosarium Virginis Mariae
  13. ^ Antoine Guillaumont reports the finding of an inscription containing the Jesus Prayer in the ruins of a cell in the Egyptian desert dated roughly to the period being discussed – Antoine Guillaumont, Une inscription coe sur la prière de Jesus in Aux origines du monachisme chrétien, Pour une phénoménologie du monachisme, pp. 168–83. In Spiritualité orientale et vie monastique, No 30. Bégrolles en Mauges (Maine & Loire), France: Abbaye de Bellefontaine.
  14. ^ Epistula ad abbatem, p. 5
  15. ^ Nikolopoulos, 1973
  16. ^ McGinn, Bernard (2006). The essential writings of Christian mysticism. New York: Modern Library. p. 125. ISBN 0-8129-7421-2. 
  17. ^ Palmer, G.E.H. The Philokalia, Volume 2. London: Faber. p. 507. 
  18. ^ John S. Romanides, Some Underlying Positions of This Website, 11, note
  19. ^ a b French, R. M. (1930). French, R. M., ed. The Way of a Pilgrim. Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Retrieved 2016-02-05. 
  20. ^ a b (in Romanian) Vasile Răducă, Ghidul creştinului ortodox de azi (Guide for the contemporary Eastern Orthodox Christian), second edition, Humanitas Ed., Bucharest, 2006, p. 81, ISBN 978-973-50-1161-1.
  21. ^ (in Romanian) Sergei Bulgakov, Ortodoxia (The Orthodoxy), translation from French, Paideia Ed., Bucharest, 1997, pp. 161, 162-163, ISBN 973-9131-26-3.
  22. ^ a b c d Steven Peter Tsichlis, The Jesus Prayer Archived 2005-02-07 at the Wayback Machine., Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Retrieved March 2, 2008.
  23. ^ Eastern Orthodox theology doesn’t stand Thomas Aquinas’ interpretation to the Mystycal theology of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (modo sublimiori and modo significandi, by which Aquinas unites positive and negative theologies, transforming the negative one into a correction of the positive one). Like pseudo-Denys, the Eastern Church remarks the antinomy between the two ways of talking about God and acknowledges the superiority of apophatism. Cf. Vladimir Lossky, op. cit., p. 55, Dumitru Stăniloae, op. cit., pp. 261–262.
  24. ^ (in Romanian) Vladimir Lossky, Teologia mistică a Bisericii de Răsărit (The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church), translation from French, Anastasia Ed., Bucharest, 1993, pp. 36–37, 47–48, 55, 71. ISBN 973-95777-3-3.
  25. ^ The Vision of God by Vladimir Lossky SVS Press, 1997. (ISBN 0-913836-19-2)
  26. ^ (in Romanian) Fr. Dumitru Stăniloae, Ascetica şi mistica Biserici Ortodoxe (Ascetics and Mystics of the Eastern Orthodox Church), Institutul Biblic şi de Misiune al BOR (Romanian Orthodox Church Publishing House), 2002, p. 268, ISBN 0-913836-19-2.
  27. ^ The Philokalia, Vol. 4 ISBN 0-571-19382-X Palmer, G.E.H; Sherrard, Philip; Ware, Kallistos (Timothy) On the Inner Nature of Things and on the Purification of the Intellect: One Hundred Texts Nikitas Stithatos (Nikitas Stethatos)
  28. ^ a b John Chryssavgis, Repentance and Confession - Introduction Archived 2008-03-17 at the Wayback Machine., Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Retrieved 21 March 2008.
  29. ^ a b An Online Orthodox Catechism, Russian Orthodox Church. Retrieved 21 March 2008.
  30. ^ Olga Louchakova, Ontopoiesis and Union in the Jesus Prayer: Contributions to Psychotherapy and Learning, in Logos pf Phenomenology and Phenomenology of Logos. Book Four – The Logos of Scientific Interrogation. Participating in Nature-Life-Sharing in Life, Springer Ed., 2006, p. 292, ISBN 1-4020-3736-8. Google Scholar: .
  31. ^ a b (in Romanian) Hristofor Panaghiotis, Rugăciunea lui Iisus. Unirea minţii cu inima şi a omului cu Dumnezeu (Jesus prayer. Uniting the mind with the heart and man with God by Panagiotis K. Christou), translation from Greek, second edition, Panaghia Ed., Rarău Monastery, Vatra Dornei, pp. 6, 12-15, 130, ISBN 978-973-88218-6-6.
  32. ^ a b c (in Romanian) Puterea Numelui sau despre Rugăciunea lui Iisus (The Power of the Name. The Jesus Prayer in Orthodox Spirituality) in Kallistos Ware, Rugăciune şi tăcere în spiritualitatea ortodoxă (Prayer and silence in the Orthodox spirituality), translation from English, Christiana Ed., Bucharest, 2003, p. 23, 26, ISBN 973-8125-42-1.
  33. ^ (in Romanian) Fr. Ioan de la Rarău, Rugăciunea lui Iisus. Întrebări şi răspunsuri (Jesus Prayer. Questions and answers), Panaghia Ed., Rarău Monastery, Vatra Dornei, p. 97. ISBN 978-973-88218-6-6.
  34. ^ “Song of songs 5:2; – Passage Lookup — New King James Version”. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  35. ^ “greek news: Οι τρόποι της ευχής”. 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  36. ^ a b c “On the Jesus Prayer”. 2004-11-27. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  37. ^ (in Romanian) Paul Evdokimov, Rugăciunea în Biserica de Răsărit (Prayer in the Church of the East), translation from French, Polirom Ed., Bucharest, 1996, pp. 29-31, ISBN 973-9248-15-2.
  38. ^ (in Romanian) Ilie Cleopa in Dicţionarul teologilor români (Dictionary of Romanian Theologians), electronic version, Univers Enciclopedic Ed., Bucharest, 1996.
  39. ^ “The Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios” by Dionysios Farasiotis
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^ “Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2666-2668”. Catholic Church. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  43. ^ John Francis’s translation of Jan van Ruysbroeck, The Book of the Twelve Béguines (John M. Watkins 1913), p. 40
  44. ^ Thomas Keating, Centering Prayer and the Christian Contemplative Tradition (Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, Bulletin 40, January 1991) Archived 2012-03-10 at the Wayback Machine.
  45. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 435
  46. ^ p.51

External links

  • The Jesus Prayer by Steven Peter Tsichlis (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America)
  • Saying the Jesus Prayer by Albert S Rossi (St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary)
  • The Jesus Prayer by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom
  • On Practicing the Jesus Prayer by Ignatius Brianchaninov
  • Introduction to the Jesus Prayer by Mother Alexandra
  • Prayer of Jesus or Prayer of the Heart by Jonah Mourtos
  • The Power of the Name by Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia
  • Becoming the Jesus Prayer by Michael Plekon
  • The Jesus Prayer by Ken E. Norian, TSSF
  • The Jesus Prayer: Learning to Pray from the Heart, by Per-Olof Sjögren, trans. by Sydney Linton; First Triangle ed. (London: Triangle, 1986, cop. 1975) ISBN 0-281-04237-3
  • Hieromonk Ilie Cleopa preaching on the levels of the Prayer of the Heart (video)
  • The Psychological Basis of Mental Prayer in the Heart (online book) by Theophanes (Constantine)
  • The Jesus Prayer A site for gazing (English and Greek)
  • Russian tradition in worship of God’s Name and the Jesus Prayer (in Russian)
  • On the Jesus Prayer Greek site in English with practical advice.
  • “Death to the World” an Orthodox Ascetic Website.
  • Praying the Jesus Prayer Guide for practice and numerous articles
  • The Jesus Prayer Eastern Orthodox Christian library that provides access to selected resources about the Jesus Prayer.

This page was last edited on 29 May 2018, at 02:14.

The most normal form of unceasing prayer in the Orthodox tradition is the Jesus Prayer. The Jesus Prayer is the form of invocation used by those practicing mental prayer, also called the “prayer of the heart”. The words of the prayer most usually said are “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner”. The choice of this particular verse has a theological and spiritual meaning.

First of all, it is centered on the name of Jesus because this is the name of Him whom “God has highly exalted”, the name given to the Lord by God Himself (Лк. 1:31), the “name which is above every name” (Флп. 2:9-10, Еф. 1:21).

…for there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved (Деян. 4:12).

All prayer for Christians must be performed in the name of Jesus: “if you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (Ин. 14:13-14).

The fact that the prayer is addressed to Jesus as Lord and Christ and Son of God is because this is the center of the entire faith revealed by God in the Spirit.

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

And Jesus answered, “Blessed are you… for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heave… and on this rock I will build my Church…” (Мф. 16:16-18).

That Jesus is the Christ, and that the Christ is Lord is the essence of the Christian faith and the foundation of the Christian church. To believe and proclaim this is granted by the Holy Spirit.

…no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit (1Кор. 12:3).

…every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Флп. 2:11).

In calling Jesus the Son of God is to acknowledge God as His Father. To do this is, at the same time, to have God as one’s own Father, and this too is granted by the indwelling Spirit.

And when the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying “Abba! Father!” (Гал. 4:4-6).

When we cry “Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit Himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God… (Рим. 8:15-16).

Thus, to pray “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God” is already to be a child of God, and already to be certain that the Holy Spirit is in you. In this way, the Jesus Prayer brings the Spirit of God into the heart of man.

“Have mercy on me a sinner” is the publican’s prayer. When uttered with humble conviction it brings divine justification (Лк. 18:9-14). Generally speaking, divine mercy is what man needs most of all. It is for this reason that the numberless repetition of the request for the Lord’s mercy is found everywhere in the prayers of, the Church.

And finally, all men are sinners. To know this is a fact, and to confess it with faith is to be justified and forgiven by God (Рим. 3:10-12, Пс. 14:1-3).

The Jesus Prayer basically is used in three different ways. First as the verse used for the “prayer of the heart” in silence in the hesychast method of prayer. Second as the continual mental and unceasing prayer of the faithful outside the hesychast tradition. And third as the brief ejaculatory prayer used to ward off temptations. Of course, in the actual life of a person these three uses of the prayer are often interrelated and combined.

In the hesychast method of prayer the person sits alone in a bodily position with his head bowed and his eyes directed toward his chest or his stomach. He continually repeats the prayer with each aspiration and breath, placing his “mind in his heart” by concentrated attention. He empties his mind of all rational thoughts and discursive reasoning, and also voids his mind of every picture and image. Then, without thought or imagination, but with all proper attention and concentration he rhythmically repeats the Jesus Prayer in silence – hesychia means silence – and through this method of contemplative prayer is united to God by the indwelling of Christ in the Spirit. According to the fathers, such a prayer, when faithfully practiced within the total life of the Church, brings the experience of the uncreated divine light of God and unspeakable joy to the soul. Its purpose is to make man a servant of God.

…the mind when it unites with the heart is filled with unspeakable joy and delight. Then a man sees that the Kingdom of heaven is truly within us.

When you enter the place of the heart… give thanks to God, and praising His mercy, keep always to this activity, and it will teach you things which you will learn in no other way.

…when your mind becomes established in the heart, it must not remain idle, but it should constantly repeat the prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me!” and never cease.

For this practice, keeping the mind from dreaming, renders it invincible against all suggestions of the devil and every day leads it more and more to love and longing for God (St. Nicephorus, Discourse on Sobriety).

To practice the hesychast method of prayer requires always and without exception the guidance of a spiritual guide, one must not use this method unless one is a person of genuine humility and sanity, filled with all wisdom and peace. To use this method without guidance or humble wisdom, is to court spiritual disaster, for the temptations that come with it are many. Indeed, the abuses of the method became so great in recent centuries that its use was greatly curtailed. Bishop Theophan tells that the bodily postures and breathing techniques were virtually forbidden in his time since, instead of gaining the Spirit of God, people succeeded only “in ruining their lungs” (The Art of Prayer, lgumen Chariton).

Such abusive and abortive used of the method – itself something genuine and richly rewarding were already known in fourteenth century Byzantium when St. Gregory Palamas defended the tradition. And evidence exists from as early as the fourth century to show that even then people were using the prayer foolishly and to no avail by reducing it to a “thing in itself” and being captivated by its form without interest in its purpose. Indeed, the idolatrous interest in spiritual technique and in the pleasurable benefits of “spirituality” and “mysticism” are the constant temptations of the spiritual life – and the devil’s most potent weapon. Bishop Theophan called such interest “spiritual hedonism”; John of the Cross called it “spiritual gluttony” and “spiritual luxury”. Thus, by way of example from various times and places, come the following admonitions.

Those who refuse to work with their hands under the pretext that one should pray without ceasing, in reality do not pray either. Through idleness… they entangle the soul in a labyrinth of thoughts… and make it incapable of prayer (St. Nilus of Sinai, Texts on Prayer).

As long as you pay attention only to bodily posture for prayer and your mind cares only for the external beauty of the tabernacle (i.e. proper forms), know that you have not yet found the place of prayer and its blessed way is still far from you.

Know that in the midst of all spiritual joy and consolation, that it is still more necessary to serve God with devotion and fear (St. Nilus of Sinai, Texts on Prayer).

It is natural for the mind to reject what is at hand and dream of something else to come… to build fantasies and imaginings about achievements before he has attained them. Such a man is in considerable danger of losing what he has and failing into self-delusion and being deprived of good sense. He becomes only a dreamer and not a man of continual prayer (i.e. a hesychast) (St. Gregory of Sinai, Texts on Commandments and Dogmas).

If you are truly practicing the continual prayer of silence, hoping to be with God and you see something sensory or spiritual, within or without, be it even the image of Christ, or an angel, or some saint, or if an image of light pervades your mind in no way accept it… always be displeased with such images, and keep your mind clear, without image or form… and you will suffer no harm. It has often happened that such things, even when sent by God as a test before victory, have turned into harm for many… who have then done harm to others equally unwise… leading to pride and self-conceit.

For the fathers say that those who live rightly and are faultless in their behavior with other men… who seek God with obedience, questioning and wise humility… will always be protected from harm by the grace of Christ (St. Gregory of Sinai, Instructions to Hesychasts).

The use of the Jesus Prayer outside the hesychast method for unceasing prayer is to repeat the prayer constantly and continually, whatever one is doing, without the employment of any particular bodily postures or breathing techniques. This is the way taught by St. Gregory Palamas in his short discourse about how unceasing mental prayer is the duty of all Christians. Anyone can do this, whatever his occupation or position in life. This also is shown in The Way of the Pilgrim.

The purpose and results of this method of prayer are those generally of all prayer: that men might be continually united with God by unceasing remembrance of His presence and perpetual invocation of His name, so that one might always serve Him and all men with the virtues of Christ and the fruits of the Spirit.

The third method of using the Jesus Prayer is to have it always ready for moments of temptation. In this way, as St. John Climacus has said, you can “flog your enemies, i.e. the temptations, with the name of Jesus for there is no stronger weapon in heaven or on earth” (The Ladder of Divine Ascent). This method works best when one practices the prayer without ceasing, joining “to every breath a sober invocation of Jesus’ name” (Evagrius of Pontus). When one practices the continual “prayer of the heart”, and when the temptations to sin enter the heart, they are met by the prayer and are defeated by grace.

Man cannot live in this world without being tempted. When temptation comes to a person, there are only three possible results. Either the person immediately yields to the temptation and sins, or he tries to ward off the temptation by the power of his will, and is ultimately defeated after great vexation and strife. Or else he fights off the temptation by the power of Christ in his heart which is present only by prayer. This does not mean that he “prays the temptation away”. Or that God miraculously and magically descends to deliver him. It means rather that his soul is so filled with the grace and the power of God that the temptation can have no effect. It is in this sense that the Apostle John has written: “no one who abides in Christ sins” (1Ин. 3:6).

He who sins is of the devil… The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God commits sins; for God’s nature abides in him, and he cannot sin for he is born of God. By this may be seen who are children of God, and who are children of the devil (1Ин. 3:8-10).

One becomes a child of God, born of God in the Church through baptism. One continues as a child of God and does not sin only by continual prayer: the remembrance of God, the abiding in Him, the calling upon His name without ceasing in the soul. The third use of the Jesus Prayer, like the first two, is to accomplish this end: that man might not sin.

Orthodox Church in America

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