Well, I will give you a gift today so each of you will get this gift from me, and the gift is called the Jesus Prayer. So the Jesus prayer is a simple prayer that we can pray anytime throughout the day, and it can help us connect with God. Now some of you may have heard of these different breathing exercises that you do. So the Navy Seals do this., one of them is called box breathing, so they breathe in for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4, breathe in for 4, breathe out for 4. They do this to kind of calm themselves when they’re in a stressful situation and they’re panicking; they have to calm their mind and their body. There is also that 4-7-8 breathing; have you heard of that one? So you breathe in for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds, and then breathe out for 8 seconds, so that’s another thing that the military teaches. They often will; if you go to counseling, they’ll teach you these breathing exercises to relax you for counseling. So I’m giving you at least $100 value right now; you can save going to counseling for this one. But for myself, I’ve always felt like I’m wasting my time anytime I’ve experienced things like this, but if I could do this and allow it to be a prayer, I think it would be much more effective and fruitful for me.


Unbeknownst to me, years ago, there was this prayer called the Jesus Prayer. This prayer has been prayed by the church, especially some Eastern churches, for 1600 years, so from the year 400AD when the monks would go out into the desert and pray. They were called the desert fathers, so they would go into the desert and try to get away from all the noise, and they would fast and be in complete solitude. One of the things that they did was they would have a phrase from scripture that they held onto, and they would repeat it over and over and over again. We have one of the roots of the Jesus prayer in the gospel today with Bartimaeus, and Bartimaeus screams out to Jesus, Son of David, pity me. We hear from St John Chrysostom, one of the church fathers, says, “but poor Bartimaeus would not listen to the crowd he cried out all the more Son of David pity me.” Our Lord, who had heard him right from the beginning, let him persevere in prayer, and he does the same with you. He hears you, he knows what you need, but he allows us to persevere in our prayer. Why does he do that? Jesus hears our cries from the very first, but he waits he wants us to be convinced that we truly need him. So sometimes, when God doesn’t answer, it’s because he wants us to be confident that we need him. He wants us to beseech him, to persist like the blind man waiting by the road of Jericho. Let us imitate him, even if God does not immediately give us what we ask; even if many people try to put us off our prayers, let us still go on praying.

The Jesus Prayer is mentioned in the catechism, so in paragraph 2616, it says, “prayer to Jesus has answered by him already in his ministry’. Hence, it goes on to say that Jesus, in his ministry, was able to work miracles; he healed the blind man and cleansed the lepers, healed the sick, raised the dead, and cast out demons. Jesus did all of this in his ministry, but he wanted to continue to do it in our lives. So, this urgent request of the blind man that has mercy on us, son of David, or Jesus Son of David, to understand me has been renewed in this traditional prayer. This is the phrase of the prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God has mercy on me a sinner,” that’s the prayer. We hear in different places of scripture that we’re supposed to pray all the time to pray without ceasing; anybody got that mastered yet raise your hand if you do, no okay, me either I’m working on it. But we hear in Romans rejoice in Hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. How do we do that? How do we be constant in prayer? Ephesians says, “pray at all times in the spirit with all prayer and supplication to that end keep alert with all perseverance.” How do we persevere in prayer? Colossians continue steadfastly.

In prayer, being watchful in it with Thanksgiving and finally the ones we all probably know the most is 1st Thessalonians. Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances. So how do we fulfill this command in scripture to pray continually? The Jesus prayer is one of the solutions to that, and it’s based on a few different scripture passages. So, there may be a few there are a few different versions of it over these last 1400 years that have come about. What we heard today in the gospel, it’s based on the ten lepers who called to Jesus and said Jesus, master, pity us; it’s based on the publican and the Sinner who said God be merciful to me a sinner. Okay, so here we go, the words, Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God have mercy on me a sinner. These words are from scripture, and they’re compelling words, so one of the church fathers, Saint Ignatius, says the word should first be pronounced with extreme unhurriedness. Hence, as you try this on your own extreme unhurriedness Lord Jesus Christ, tell the whole phrase very, very slowly, and he says that you train your mind to say it almost like you’re a little child learning syllables. Lord Jesus Christ. He says it is especially helpful in holding the attention during prayer when we’re unhurried and we pronounce these words without hurrying to say the words in an audible voice when we pray alone. This also is to hold our attention more and more on Jesus. He says that experience will teach everyone who’s ever practiced prayer that saying aloud a few prayers of Jesus and all the blessings, in general, is a great help in preventing our mind from being distracted. Now, this is not only in worship but during the day. You know, when you get distracted during the day, and your mind is all over the place, you can pray this prayer. You know what you’re going through, and you have a temptation that’s attacking you over again; you can pray this prayer. Whenever you’re feeling anxious, whenever you’re feeling depressed or angry, or whatever it may be when you find yourself out of control, this prayer will unite you to Jesus.

He says that as we begin this prayer, it’s not only saying the words but also teaching breathing. So breathing in and breathing out; that’s where I get to the 4-7-8 breathing. We’re not talking about mindfulness breathing or the Eastern meditation or yoga breathing or anything like that; we’re talking about Christian breathing where we were focused on Christ. Jesus is with us and our bodies, and with every breath, we take his is with and through us. So he said we should use the name of Jesus as we do our breath. Let it cleave to your mouth, and this way, you will pray without ceasing. So the church fathers say that we should pray this every day, and they suggest 15 minutes in the morning or at night, to spend 15 minutes just saying Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me a sinner. Now some of you may not want to do 15 minutes you know that might be that might seem too long for you, can you try it for 10 minutes or can you try it for five minutes, or can you go 3 minutes or even just 1 minute of Lord Jesus Christ Son of David has mercy on me. Now to give you the experience I’m going to do, do this now with you. I’m going to lead us all in prayer and doing that, I think it’s essential that you close your eyes for a moment, try to still your body and be relaxed, and again the scripture passage is Lord Jesus Christ, son of God have mercy on me a sinner. So I want you to repeat out loud with me each phrase, to begin with, and we’ll say it very slow. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Another time Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, had an understanding of me as a sinner. now I want you to breathe, so the church fathers taught that breathing in and breathing out and saying this prayer that the more we do this by practicing this prayer with our breath that even when we’re not praying, and we just are breathing throughout our day, it’s going

It becomes so second nature to us that as we breathe, we’re going to be praying this prayer, so I’d like you to say silently to yourself in your mind and your hearts, you don’t have to say it out loud. Still, I will say the phrase for you breathe in and as you breathe in to say it to yourself Lord Jesus Christ the son of God and hold it for a moment, then as you breathe out, have mercy on me a sinner. We’ll do that again, breathe in, Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, hold it for a moment, breathe out, have mercy on me a sinner. Breathe in, Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God, breathe out, have an understanding on me a sinner. One more time, take as deep a breath as you can, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I’m going to give you just a moment to do that by yourself now, saying it to yourself in your hearts, breathing in Lord Jesus Christ Son of God breathe out have mercy on me a sinner. Try that for yourselves for a moment. You can open your eyes. so I would invite you to practice this because you will experience not only in that moment that you experience the breathing and the praying you’re going to experience great peace in that time. The more you get acquainted with that, the more you go on throughout the day when you get stressed or anxious or when you’re tempted to do something; you can close your eyes for a moment and breathe. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, son of God, a sinner. Quick at first, but then try to slow your breathing down and what you’ll find is you’ll be able to do this anytime throughout the day. So, you don’t have to let your emotions get out of control; the anger, the worry, the anxiety, the temptations, whatever may hit you. You can stop, close your eyes, breathe in Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, breathe out, have mercy on me a sinner. The more this becomes a practice for us, the more that we do this, then it will, and it’s happened to me we’ll be breathing and sometimes just saying the words as we live without even realizing it.

Our whole life can become a prayer. I like that analogy that the Navy Seals use this breathing exercise, not this one particular, but they use a breathing exercise when they’re intense times of stress. I think all of us are facing so many tense times of stress that by praying the Jesus prayer right at that moment, we can connect with them right when he is in our hearts. We can call on his name there is such a power in the name of Jesus, so just by saying his word, we are invoking Jesus. We ask him to help with whatever situation faces us and the same thing because we’re baptized in Jesus, and Jesus is in us in our baptism when we call upon his name, we can work miracles. We can work miracles. You can heal the sick; you can get through any difficult situation you’re in. you can bring about peace in your heart and the world. You can overcome Satan through the name of Jesus. So that’s my gift to you. I hope that you’ll practice the Jesus prayer and that it will become a part of your life, a part of your daily routine. I will have this homily on my website with more information about the Jesus Prayer if you want to learn about it. You can go to the holy family website or go to my website, TheProdigalfather.org, if you want to learn more about this prayer and practice it. So there you go, you just got $100 from me.

Learn everything you need to know about the Jesus Prayer here:

https://www.orthodoxprayer.org/Jesus%20Prayer.html