“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner” is a longer form of the Jesus Prayer. Two shorter forms are the following: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me” and “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” Sometimes the middle phrase,” Son of the living God,” is used. I like the term “living God” but not for use in this prayer. I think it detracts from the meaning of calling on Jesus for mercy. I like the idea, in general, of having a relationship with a “living God” because that implies a vibrant give and take in the present moment.
An early biblical reference for this prayer occurs in I Chronicles 16:34 (King James Version). “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” This verse reoccurs in Psalm 106:1 prefaced by PRAISE ye the LORD. The New International Version’s translation of this verse is “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” The New English Version’s translation of this verse is “It is good to give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures for ever.” So it’s nice to think love is mixed with mercy when reciting the Jesus Prayer.
One last biblical reference occurs in Luke 18:13 (King James Version). “. . . God be merciful to me a sinner.” Also, the Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy) is used in the Christian liturgy.
“The prayer’s origin is most likely the Egyptian desert, which was settled by the monastic Desert Fathers in the fifth century” (Wikipedia). The Desert Fathers and Mothers were masters of intense succinct prayers.
“Abba Macarius was asked, ‘How should one pray?’ The old man said, ‘There is no need at all to make long discourses; it is enough to stretch out one’s hands and say, ‘Lord, as you will, and as you know, have mercy.’ And if the conflict grows fiercer, say, ‘Lord, Help!’ He knows very well what we need and he shows us his mercy” (Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers edited by Tim Vivian, p. 436).
So if you are so stressed out that you can’t remember the entire Jesus Prayer, yell “Help!” in your mind or out loud in the middle of a crowded shopping mall. (See my upcoming article, “Why Should You Pray the Jesus Prayer?”)
Photo Credit: Photo by Randy OHC at Flickr Creative Commons.