The Desert Fathers, monastic Christians in Egypt in the third and fourth centuries, often prayed the prayer many know as the “Kyrie Eleison” (Greek for “Lord, have mercy”). Also called the “Jesus Prayer” when pronounced as “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner,” it is rooted in Psalm 123:3, Luke 18:13, and Luke 18:38.
Based on the words of the boy Samuel (1 Samuel 3:9), I occasionally pray these words to quiet my soul and express my desire to hear from God.
I often pray this prayer of affirmation and dependence, from Psalm 121:2, in times of need and desperation. It reminds me that my help does not come from my own strength or the support of others, but from God.
This is a prayer of presence, and availability, based on the cry of the prophet in Isaiah 6:8.
I often pray this short prayer (based on Psalm 68:28, among others) to intercede for others, particularly when the need is great and the situation dire.
My children memorized this verse (Psalm 56:3) when they were four and five, I think. It has since helped not only them but also me to remain calm and trustful when tempted by worry and fear.
This prayer, of course, echoes Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42). Like the previous prayer, it helps to pray this “breath prayer” when you are anxious or impatient. It places the praying heart in a position of surrender, where great answers are likely to come.
Based on the prayer Jesus taught his earliest followers (Luke 11:2), I often breathe this prayer when I am overwhelmed by the sadness and horrors of the latest news or a devastating diagnosis. In just a few words, it expresses a heartfelt desire for the day when “the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God” (Revelation 12:10) will be fully realized and the Evil One will be defeated.
When a Roman centurion sent word to Jesus asking him to heal a sick servant, he told Jesus that he didn’t even feel worthy for the Lord to come into his house. He simply requested, “Say the word, and my servant will be healed” (Luke 7:7). Jesus commended the centurion’s faith, for his request showed that he knew Jesus could heal with a word. So I will often pray for someone’s healing–from sickness, addiction, emotional pain, depression, etc.–with this breath prayer.
I breathe this prayer–the last prayer recorded in the Bible (Revelation 22:20)–not only as a prayer for Christ’s return but also as a prayer for him to come repeatedly, constantly, into my situation and struggles.
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