Jesus Prayer

Christogram with Jesus' Prayer in Romanian: 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 ( Greek: Η Προσευχή του Ιησού, i prosefchí tou iisoú; Syriac: ܨܠܘܬܐ ܕܝܫܘܥ ‎, Amharic, Geez and Tigrinya: እግዚኦ መሐረነ ክርስቶስ,Slotho d-Yeshu' , ) or "The Prayer" ( Greek: Η Ευχή, i efchí̱ – literally "The Wish") 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. [1]

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. [2] [3] 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 ( Ancient Greek: ἡσυχάζω, isycházo, "to keep stillness"). 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. [1] St. Theophan the Recluse regarded the Jesus' Prayer stronger than all other prayers by virtue of the power of the Holy Name of Jesus. [2]

While its tradition, on historical grounds, also belongs to the Eastern Catholics, [4] [5] and there have been a number of Roman Catholic texts on the Jesus' Prayer, its practice has never achieved the same popularity in the Western 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 St. Gregory Palamas was generally rejected by Roman Catholic theologians until the 20th century, but Pope John Paul II called Gregory Palamas a saint, [6] cited him as a great writer, [7] and an authority on theology [8] [9] [10] 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". [11] 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. [12]

Origins

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. [13]

A formula similar to the standard form of the Jesus' Prayer is found in a letter attributed to John Chrysostom, who died in 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. [14] However, some consider this letter dubious or spurious and attribute it to an unknown writer of unknown date. [15]

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. [16] 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. [17] 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.'" [18]

A similar idea is recommended in the Ladder of Divine Ascent of St. John Climacus (c. 523–606), who recommends the regular practice of a monologistos, or one-worded "Jesus' Prayer." [3] 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." [19]

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 Roman Catholic and Anglican churches.

Other Languages
Deutsch: Jesusgebet
Esperanto: Preĝo de Jesuo
français: Prière du cœur
한국어: 예수 기도
Bahasa Indonesia: Doa Yesus
ქართული: იესოს ლოცვა
Latina: Oratio Iesu
magyar: Jézus-ima
македонски: Исусова молитва
Nederlands: Jezusgebed
norsk nynorsk: Jesusbøna
português: Oração de Jesus
slovenčina: Ježišova modlitba
српски / srpski: Исусова молитва
svenska: Jesusbönen
українська: Ісусова молитва
vepsän kel’: Iisusan loičend