"Jesus": The Shortest, Simplest, and Most Powerful Prayer in the World
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Its simplicity and flexibility
What it is not: Magic
What it is not: Psychology
What it is: Power
What it is: Real presence
What it is: Grace
What it is: Sacramental
What it is: Sacred
I am now going to tell you about the shortest, simplest, and most powerful prayer in the world.
It is called the "Jesus Prayer", and it consists simply in uttering the single word "Jesus" (or "Lord Jesus", or "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner") in any situation, at any time and place, either aloud or silently.
There is only one prerequisite, one presupposition: that you are a Christian. If you have faith in Christ, hope in Christ, and love of Christ, you can pray the most powerful prayer in the world, because you have real contact with the greatest power in the universe: Christ himself, who assured us, in his last words to his apostles, that "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Mt 28:18).
It is also the simplest of all prayers. It is not one of the many "methods", because it bypasses methods and cuts right to the heart of practicing God's presence, which is the essence of prayer, the secret of which has been given to us by God the Father. The secret is simply God the Son, God incarnate, the Lord Jesus.
1. Its simplicity and flexibility
As the Catechism says, "The invocation of the holy name of Jesus is the simplest way of praying always.... This prayer is possible 'at all times' because it is not one occupation among others but the only occupation: that of loving God, which animates and transfigures every action in Christ Jesus" (CCC 2668).
Because it is so short and simple, this prayer can be prayed literally at any time at all and at all times, even times when longer and more complex forms of prayer are not practical or even possible. This includes times of anguish, pain, or stress, and times of deep happiness and joy.
It can be used by everyone (and has been): by the rankest beginner and the most advanced saint. It is not only for beginners; the saints use it too. It is not "cheating" just because it is so short. For it will make you pray more, not less. This only sounds paradoxical, for one of the things Jesus reminds us to do, when we invoke him by name, is to pray more!
It is so simple that it is like the center point of a circle. It is the whole circle. It contains in itself the whole gospel. The Catechism says: "The name 'Jesus' contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation" (CCC 2666). Into this name the Christian can pour all of his faith, with nothing whatsoever left over, for to be a Christian is to rest all of your faith on Christ, with nothing left over.
It is not only the shortest prayer but also the shortest and earliest creed. Twice the New Testament mentions this most basic of all the Christian creeds: the simple three-word sentence "Jesus is Lord" (I Cor 12:3) and the same creed in four words: "Jesus Christ is Lord" (Phil 2:11). It is also the most distinctively Christian creed, for "Lord" (Kyrios) means "God", and Christ's divinity and lordship over one's life is the distinctive, essential faith of Christians: no non-Christian believes that (if he did, he would be a Christian), and all Christians believe it (if they do not, they are not Christians) .