Religion

23rd Day of Lent | Evening Prayer

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When I was in college the pastor taught me to say the Jesus Prayer. It is one of the most ancient prayers in the Christian tradition and it goes like this:

O Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God,
Have mercy on me,
A sinner.

This prayer is a breath prayer, and the pastor explained how to say it like this:

“O Lord Jesus Christ,”

You start by drawing in a breath. As you do so you also draw in the words. You bring Jesus into your body along with the air you breathe.

“Son of God,”

You exhale your breath. You are proclaiming who Jesus is and the nature of his being. You publicly exclaim the glory of the person of Jesus.

“Have mercy on me,”

You draw in a second breath. You ask for mercy and you take it in. You fill yourself with the life-giving mercy of God.

“A sinner.”

You release the breath. You make a public declaration of who you are. You can hold no illusions about your own righteousness when you denounce yourself as a sinner in need of Jesus. However, this breath holds a secret. When you announce your true nature to the world you are also released from your sin. You exhale your sinfulness just like you exhale your spent breath. And like an old breath your sin is gone from you and forgotten. It has power over you no longer.

“O Lord Jesus Christ,” (Draw in Jesus)

“Son of God,” (Breath out God)

“Have mercy on me,” (Draw in mercy)

“A sinner.” (Expel sin)

This prayer is sweet and melodious. Using the breaths while you pray has a way of creating a deep and restful peace where you can focus on God and be transformed. It is one of my favorite prayers and one that is comforting to fall asleep to.

Amen.

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