In the third Christian century, called the Common Era by non-Christians, a steady stream of monastics made their way to the Egyptian desert. They became known to history as the Desert Fathers and Mothers. Their form of monasticism became the model for all others.
The Desert Monastics taught a very simple prayer. This prayer has come down to us through history as The Jesus Prayer. Read it with me here.
Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God
Have mercy on me
The Jesus Prayer in all its simplicity manages to include the existence of God, the divinity of Jesus Christ and the need of humankind, as one and all, for mercy in light of human sinfulness. There are other things you might see in these few words, but how much more does one prayer need to do for us?
For years as a pastor and evangelist I included this prayer as part of the invitation altar call I offered. Critics over the years accused me of being too evangelistic, a charge with which I do not fear to appear before my Lord.
The Desert Fathers who put this prayer before us were obviously committed believers. They did not have to ask if they needed mercy, even as devout Christians and so prayed it without ceasing.
I wonder if we might need to lift up this prayer now, as persons and as a nation. Last spring and summer riots deemed “peaceful protests” rocked some of the large cities in America. In the last week outraged conservatives stormed the US Capitol.
I listened to the US President Elect tremblingly offer a call for peace, but his call was extraordinarily bleak. His performance reminded me how much we will have to pray for the incoming administration. This is no time for weakness. Ours is a time to call out to God in Jesus Christ for mercy over our sinfulness.
Let us daily pray the simple Jesus Prayer