-R. M. French: Abundant light in the Jesus prayer-
As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied. Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God. Luke 18:35-43
“You notice that prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, or what is known as the Jesus prayer — that is to say, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me’ — when frequently repeated, has the greatest power and very easily opens the heart and blesses it. This is to be noticed very clearly in the case of the apostles, who had been for a whole year disciples of Jesus Christ, and had already been taught the Lord’s Prayer by Him — that is to say, ‘Our Father’ (and it is through them that we know it). Yet at the end of His earthly life Jesus Christ revealed to them the mystery that was still lacking in their prayers. So that their prayer might make a definite step forward He said to them, ‘Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name. Verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name He will give it you.’ And so it happened in their case. For, ever after this time, when the Apostles learned to offer prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, how many wonderful works they performed and what abundant light was shed upon them.”
R.M. French translated The Way Of A Pilgrim And The Pilgrim Continues His Way (San Francisco: Harper, 1991) 151-152. Click to read a free copy of this classic spiritual formation resource.
To live a generous life is to serve as a conduit of spiritual and material blessings that come to us from God. Often, on the journey, we have needs that arise. Jesus anticipated this, which is why He instructed His disciples to ask the Father for what they need in His name. He also modeled responsiveness to such a request in how He responded to the blind man’s humble cry.
Taken the wrong way, this can lead many to thinking “the Jesus prayer” (as it is commonly called) is a magic formula for manipulating God to get what you want. Don’t go there! It’s arrogant rather than humble, and God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. See it not as formulaic, but rather, formational. Recounting this Scripture as a prayer teaches us humility.
I had breakfast with a mate this week who shared with me that God is teaching him a number of things, one of which is humility. If that’s you too, pray this prayer often. My wife, Jenni, in her spiritual direction encourages people to pray it as a breath prayer. Breath in saying to yourself ‘Lord Jesus Christ’ and breath out saying ‘have mercy on me a sinner’. Try it to train yourself in humility.
Why celebrate the abundant light in this prayer? Understanding the humble posture we must take coupled with the access to the Father we have through our Lord Jesus Christ is integral to the life of a generous disciple. We cannot live generously without dependence upon and connection to the Father through Jesus Christ. The only way to ‘generosity’ for all us as pilgrims is to take the path marked ‘humility’.
kurios M firstname.lastname@example.org
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