While the Jesus Prayer can be considered a form of breath prayer, it is a much used and deceptively simple practice that deserves our attention.
Frist, the words are simple and might take one of several forms,
“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner”
“Lord Jesus Christ, son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”
“Lord Jesus, have mercy.”
Second, the practice is to repeat the words again, and again.
Adele Ahlberg Calhoun in Spiritual Disciplines Handbook (p. 206) quotes from the description of the Jesus Prayer found in “The Way of a Pilgrim.”
“Take a seat in solitude and silence. Bend your head, close your eyes and breathing softly, in your imagination, look into your own heart. Let your mind, or rather, your thoughts flow from your head down to your heart and say, while breathing: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” Whisper these words gently or say them in your mind. Discard all other thoughts. Be serene, persevering and repeat them over and over again.”
This description describes the beginning of the Jesus Prayer. It is not meant to end after a 5 or 10 or 30 minute period of seating quietly with the prayer. The prayer comes back to us again and again though out the day forming a “background” to our daily activities. The practice of the Jesus Prayer is a step toward the scriptural encouragement to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
What do you think? Want to give it a try today? And when you do, be open to the prayer coming back to your awareness thoughout the day.