Here’s A One-Line Prayer You Can Always Use

Once a month Seeking the Spirit Within offers you a prayer practice you might like to try. This month it is “The Jesus Prayer.” It can be prayed anytime, anywhere. It can be prayed silently or out loud. We encourage you to pray this simple prayer and see how your soul responds.

September 16, 2020
Rev. Carmala Aderman

In anxious times, it can be hard to know how to pray

It’s hard to keep watching the news in the midst of the pandemic and this political season. I know I need to track what’s going on in the world but, quite frankly, it’s rather, um, icky.

Hurricanes. Wildfires. Economic recession. High unemployment. The pandemic. The election. A polarized nation. Yikes . . . it just goes on and on.

There are times I simply have to limit how much news I track. I even took a couple days away from the news altogether recently. You know the headlines … 

Redefining COVID-19: Months after infection, patients report breathing difficulty, excessive fatigue. (CNN, 9/13/2020)

Wildfires continue to blanket West Coast in smoke. (The Washington Post, 9/14/2020)

Former Omaha TV meteorologist who threatened county health director found guilty. (Omaha World Herald, 9/14/2020)

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.”

Luke 18:13

Followers of Christ get to be wise and humble

It’s so easy to get sucked down the vortex of fear and anxiety and despair. What’s a person to do?! 

In Matthew 10:16, Jesus sent his disciples out on a type of first internship. He told them, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise (sometimes translated “shrewd”) as serpents and innocent as doves.” (ESV) 


In the same reality. 

We are citizens of both the Kingdom of the world and the Kingdom of God. We need skills for living in those two realities. Wisdom/Shrewdness and Innocence. 

What does “wisdom” or “shrewdness” look like in this pandemic? For me it looks like 

  • wearing a mask and spatial distancing when I’m around other people 
  • washing my “high touch” points in the house a few times each week with hot bleach water
  • wiping down the parts of my truck I touch when I’m done driving after doing errands
  • acting as though I’m COVID-19 positive which means I don’t visit people in their homes and go places I otherwise would.

What does “innocent as a dove” look like? I yearn for my soul to come out of this more loving and humble. (It seems like reckless stewardship to come out of a perfectly good pandemic the same way I went into it. What a waste of a bad experience!) How do I offer myself to the Spirit’s work? One of my choices: many times a day I pray the Jesus Prayer.

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” 

Pray the simple “Jesus Prayer”

It’s an ancient Christian prayer. Luke was the first one to write it down for us in Lk 18:13 when the (naughty) tax collector cried it out to our Lord. A few hundred years later the monks of the Eastern Orthodox Church reclaimed its wisdom and taught us to pray it multiple times a day. The goal is to have our soul praying The Jesus Prayer all day long so it becomes a “Prayer of the Heart.” 

The Jesus Prayer is simply, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” You can pray it in bed and while cooking. At work and when you’re exercising. When you’re listening to someone and when you’re binge-watching Netflix. You can pray it any time and all the time!

My Jesus Prayer might go something like this . . .

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” (“Hear the longing of my heart!” I continue.) 

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” (“I’m humbling myself to you, Lord,” I add, just in case Jesus isn’t clear about my intention. Geez.) 

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” (“Please,” I plead.) 

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” (“Thank you that I can call on you.”) 

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” 

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” 

I relax. I trust that in the midst of yet another of history’s pandemics, our Lovely Lord is at work. In his crucifixion, he absorbed into himself all of my (and your) anxiety and fear. He defeated its power. The Kingdom of God is alive and well and in our midst. We get to live in it! 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, thank you for having mercy on us. 

Rev. Carmala Aderman, Graduate Certified Spiritual Director

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