SON OF GOD, HAVE
MERCY UPON ME A SINNER!
Holy Icon of our Lord Jesus Christ
This prayer is called the "Jesus Prayer," but it's also known in the Orthodox Church as "The prayer of the heart." This prayer can be said by not only monastics, but also any lay person can say the prayer. This humble prayer is prayed with a prayer rope in hand. The prayer rope was first made by monastics of the Church and the laity of the church then adopted the use of the prayer rope as well. Prayer ropes can be found in 25, 50, to 100 knots and sometimes more. The prayer rope also are made of different colors, black is used mainly by monastics, but any color can be used. What is required of this beautiful prayer is to help us keep Christ in our hearts, and to pray unceasing. Obtain the book: "The Way of the Pilgrim," to better understand the prayer of the heart. To begin the prayer, we would say on each knot: O LORD, JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, HAVE MERCY UPON ME A SINNER. We continue the prayer first with the lips, in a low whisper, and with the mind say the prayer, after much struggle with the prayer, the prayer enters the heart, one now has the prayer of the heart. Once the prayer enters the heart then we must constantly continue to say the prayer. Monastics for example are told to use their prayer ropes, and say 1000 knot prayers in their cell -room, we too must spiritually discipline ourselves to say the prayer as often as we can.... Once we have the prayer of the heart, suddenly with all the presures of the day, one may be working, or doing something around the house, and the heart says the prayer all by itself, without you asking it to do so...this in itself is true union with our God. We now have unceasing prayer with Christ our true God. I humbly suggest to you to obtain a prayer rope, and to begin the prayer... Amen.
Father Demetrios Serfes, Priest
Who Prays For You!
Prayer Within The Heart
by Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
Where there is prayer, God is present, especially when that prayer comes from within the heart. God loves to hear us pray when we pray from the heart, as He is quick to listen to us and to respond to us with a greater love than we would ever experience on this earth.
True prayer is in the heart. So many of us sometimes find it difficult to pray, and we need reminding that when we do pray we should do so with all of our mind, our heart, and our soul. The need then is to take the prayer from our mind - before it reaches our lips - and let it enter our heart: and then we let the heart say the prayer. The most commonly known prayer is the ‘Prayer of the Heart’, Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. Even the Orthodox ascetics knew that in order for them to progress to true prayer, they had to learn with faith to pray within the heart and therefore have communion with our Lord God. No matter what prayers we say in Church, at home, and indeed anywhere, prayer from within the heart is spiritually rewarding for us.
Of course we cannot put our trust in ourselves as we pray - we are frail and fallible. What we do need is the proper guidance to pray, and so when we do pray we turn to our loving Almighty God, confident that He will guide us, as He loves to hear us pray within the heart. Does He listen to our prayer, especially when it’s from within the heart? Yes! God knows that we want to pray, but time and again temptation comes our way, and of course the devil himself wants to prevent us from praying, or having any communion with our Lord God. Everything we do, every word we speak, every thought we have, every feeling that we experience is supposed to be in accordance with the words of the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are to act upon these teachings, and when we become weak in our spiritual lives we can then find great strength in praying within the heart.
In those times when we actually fail, and stop praying to God, the sense of being abandoned by God sets in, and the presence of His Divine Light is then replaced by a heavy darkness of the passions which are in revolt, a great change takes place in us, and conflict rends the soul - a bitter state of mind and heart to be in. But our gracious God has an eternal promise for us who believe in Him and would seek to rid ourselves of the hard-heartedness that besets us. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." (Ezekiel 36:26). He will! He does!
We, as Christians, cannot allow pride and self-sufficiency to take hold of us, thinking we do not need God - we do! The way to keep that Divine Light which is the love of our God constantly in our hearts is to pray from within the heart of flesh which He has given us by His Spirit.
Our faith in our God too can help win the battle. "But, I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and when thou are converted, strengthen thy brethren" (St. Luke 22:32). Therefore our prayer within the heart must be filled with faith as we are then strengthened and spiritually comforted.
When we do pray how do we do this prayer? When is the last time we actually prayed in prostration before God and cried out, weeping in prayer like the publican: "God be merciful to me a sinner," (St. Luke 18:13) or even cry out like the Holy Apostle Peter: "Lord, save me" (St. Matthew 14:30). How about the way the Holy Prophet and God-Seer Moses prayed? He kept his arms uplifted in prayer. When is the last time a tear fell from our eyes in prayer? When is the last time we lifted up our arms to our God in prayer? Then again when is the last time we prayed from our hearts within? In praying we need to come before our God with great humility and with compunction.
Humility can help us to spiritually overcome the pride of our prayer, since humility does suspend pride. We cannot create our own world, but rather what we should be doing, in praying within the heart, is to realize that humility is quick to receive life from God.
Our Gracious Lord God will never abandon us when we struggle with prayer within the heart, just as our Lord watched over the ascetics within the Church, and the Saints of the Church. What is important for us all to realize is that our Lord watches over us and is aware when we are wrestling with the enemy. He is always with us and we should never be afraid. Even when we think everything around is failing, and the powers beyond us want us to fail, we must allow our faith to be strong, and turn to our Gracious God in prayer once again.
As Orthodox Christians we should seek to be pious in our prayer, putting our trust in God, and dwelling in prayer. Let us not be troubled, because we only make our enemy happy. Prayer from within truly delights our God!
Pray from within the heart, for when we pray we behold the Saints, and can discern the way those Saints followed, finding the true Divine Light of the presence of our Lord God in our hearts and in our lives. Pray! Pray within the heart!
Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us. Amen.
But just as essential is that we all should realize that we need to pray not just in times of crisis, in times of deep grief and anguish, but continually, seeking the Divine Will and Purposes until our hearts and His are completely in tune, as one.
The oneness that is so desirable takes time, patience and humility, and our working towards it includes the process of interceding for our present situation. So we pray for those who have lost their lives, and pray for those who have become victims! Then again we pray for those who are leading our country, that they too will be guided by Our Lord God in prudence, dispassion and circumspection, so that His wonderful peace may prevail among all men! Love your country, and love Our Lord God! Pray! Pray in your home, and pray in Church! Go to Church to pray and take your family with you! Encourage your children to pray by setting them a good and meaningful example. Never forget that true prayer brings great mercy from Our Lord God! Pray when you get up in the morning, pause to pray in your coffee break! Pray again during your midday meal! Pray for your family, pray for your relatives, pray for your friends and your neighbors as well. Pray for your country, pray for your civil authorities, and remember that every soul on this earth is truly precious in the sight of Our Lord God! Unceasingly pray! Pray without ceasing! Let us train ourselves to pray! "He who does not train himself to frequent prayer will never receive unceasing prayer" wrote the Holy Apostle St. Paul Epistle to the Thessalonians: (5:17). Please also read humbly from St. Paul Epistle to the 2nd Thessalonians chapter one verse four. Then again we should adhere to the prayers of the Church, the beautiful, spiritually uplifting prayers that so simply bring them to our eyes, and pray with love! What gives us true peace is the presence of Christ Our Lord, His saints, His apostles, His martyrs, His prophets, His ascetics, and His Mother, the Most holy Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary. What a great spiritual peace comes to us as members of this heavenly fellowship! All of this is the result of our love to pray! Pray! Our minds and spirits are healed when we pray, and we become united in the Lord! God Himself will never abandon us! What is spiritually rewarding for us all, during the various times of our lives, is that when we pray we are with peace with Our God. Now, if we have not learnt to pray, then we should urgently seek to know more about prayer. There is a great deal of information in the Holy Scriptures, as well as in the teachings of the Holy Fathers, and Saints, as well as the Ascetics of our beloved Holy Orthodox Church. We can also learn about prayer by standing with our Bishop in prayer. Have we ever attended the most beautiful service of a Hierarchal Divine Liturgy? We can also pray in Church with our parish priest, and perhaps even attend a monastic community and pray with the monks, and nuns -they love to pray! Pray with them! Open the Holy Scriptures of the Holy Prophet David and read the Psalms - they are so spiritually refreshing for us, and help us to learn what great prayer can be like. The Holy Prophet David had been called "A man after God's own heart" so his prayers in the Psalms are very good examples for us. Many of the pious of the Orthodox Church use the Psalms in prayer, and almost every monastic and ascetic of the Church are found praying the Psalms on a constant daily basis. The Orthodox Church even has a rule listing which Psalms should be read for a particular service or feast day. The Orthodox Church loves the Psalms! So open the book of Psalms and pray! Try it and discover the spiritual satisfaction that will come! Pray! As we pray we will have peace within ourselves, and with Our Lord God! With true Christ-loving prayer comes spiritual joy, and our love of Our Lord God will deepen and grow in maturity. We will also begin to learn that by prayer we behold one another as brothers and sisters in Christ Our Lord, all praying together with love! Pray! May God Bless America, and may Our Lord God help us, and watch over us all - and He will, when indeed we pray! Humbly I assure you of my God loving prayers, and beg your prayers for me a sinner! Peace to your soul! Your Friend In Christ Our Lord,
+Reverend Presbyter Demetrios Serfes