While we all follow recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many of us will miss meeting together for worship. Yet there are other ways to feel close to God. As a spiritual director and pastor, I am posting a spiritual practice each week on this blog, to help everyone learn new ways to experience God’s presence.
A good one to start with is called the Jesus Prayer. It is one of the most famous prayers in the history of the Christian faith. It appears in the gospel story of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:19).
The power of this practice comes through repetition. Our logical minds are puzzled by its use. How can just repeating the same words over and over have any effect? It helps to let go of an expected outcome or reasoning, and simply let the practice open your awareness and your self to God.
HOW TO DO IT: Decide how long you want to spend in this prayer. Choose the version that suits you best:
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”
“Jesus, have mercy.”
“Christ, have mercy.”
You can do it in a seated position or while walking around. Breathe in a relaxed manner. Repeat the prayer silently for the period of time you have chosen. If there are distractions, simply note them and return to the prayer.
When you have finished, reflect on the experience. You may wish to write about your experience in a journal. Did you notice anything shift within you? What was your experience of God or Christ during the practice? Say a short prayer of gratitude to conclude the practice.
I am grateful to Marjorie Thompson, author of Soul Feast, for the guidelines for this prayer.