The Jesus Prayer

About the Jesus Prayer

The Jesus prayer is a form of contemplative prayer. It ties your breath to prayer, making your very life a prayer. If you do it often enough, you will be thinking the prayer as you breathe, making it part of your natural rhythm.

It might seem strange to ask for mercy over and over again. After all, we know God is merciful. But this prayer makes the awareness of our need for God’s mercy part of our life.

To go further with the Jesus Prayer, feel all of the things you need the mercy of our Lord for as you breathe out. Send those to Him and feel Him taking those to Himself. Then as you breathe in, feel Him filling yourself with His grace and unconditional love. Jesus is your life and he removes what is not of God from you and fills you with God’s goodness. This is like your lungs removing what does not support you and filling you with oxygen.

While many might think this type of prayer is “new age” it has actually been prayed for many years. This prayer originated in the tradition of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, who lived in the Egyptian desert in the 5th century. These early Eastern Christians believed that this type of repetitive prayer opens up the mind and heart.

How to Pray the Jesus Prayer

Repeat over and over as you breathe.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God (breathe in)

Have mercy on me, a sinner. (breathe out)

Related Resources

Is This Prayer Catholic?

Yes, it is. This link provides a reference to it in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. See section 2616 on this page for further information.

Who Were the Desert Fathers and Mothers?

Learn about these early monks who went to the desert to simplify their lives and grow closer to Christ.

A Welcome Sight – A Lesson Plan on Seeing Jesus

The focus of this prayer echoes the words of Bartimaeus who cried “Son of David, have pity on me.” See a lesson plan based on this gospel reading.


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